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PROJECT OVERVIEW

 

“Faces” in the Piney Woods:  Traditions of Turpentining in South Georgia is an oral history project of the South Georgia Folklife Project at Valdosta State University. It reflects the perspective of the field of folklore and focuses on the occupational folklife of South Georgia turpentine workers. For much of the past century, Georgia was the nation’s leading producer of gum naval stores, or the industry of extracting products such as turpentine and rosin from living slash and longleaf pine trees. The last bucket of gum for commercial turpentine was dipped by Major Phillips on August 9, 2001, outside Soperton in Treutlen County, Georgia.  The end of domestic turpentining in the United States inspired the project team to interview former turpentiners about their lives and traditions. The work of gathering and processing the raw gum was done chiefly by African American men, although countless European American small gum farmers turpentined on their own land or on land leased from others. These workers developed specialized knowledge, terminology, customs, and lore which folklorists call “occupational folklife.” This site contains information gathered from 1998-2004 through background research, photographs, video, and oral interviews.  It includes information on work in the woods and life in the turpentine camps as told by those who lived it.

 

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Last modified: 03/17/05

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