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Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

News stories and historical documents relating to the practice of conjure. Brought to you by our sister-site, Southern-Spirits.com
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fausto
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Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by fausto » Sat Jun 20, 2009 9:37 pm

This is a link to a series of recordings made by Zora Neale Hurston while she collected folklore in Florida in the 1930's. Maybe not directly related to hoodoo, but I thought they were interesting.

http://www.floridamemory.com/Collection ... urston.cfm#

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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by catherineyronwode » Mon Jun 22, 2009 10:51 pm

Thanks for the link.
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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by Papa Rouj » Fri Jun 26, 2009 4:59 am

That's a really great link!!!

Thanks...

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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by benitaw78 » Sat Aug 15, 2009 5:30 am

Hello everyone! I found some interesting history about a Conjurer in Charleston South Carolina named Gullah Jack. Since my dad is from there I'm always researching rootworkers from that area. I don't know if Mrs. Cat already has it in her archives (and if so sorry to repost), but I thought I'd post it up.

Also I'm researching an interesting conjurer named John Domingo from Charleston S.C. From the brief history of him, he seemed like a man with a lot of clout! His nickname was the"Black Constable" and I have a feeling it wasn't because of his skin tone..lol. When I find more info I will post it. Or if anyone can find more about him, let me know.

Anyhow hope you enjoy the story of Gullah jack.

BTW...I copied and pasted this from Wikipedia the free encyclopedia, so it is not protected by exclusive copyright:

Gullah Jack (died July 12, 1822), also known as Couter Jack and sometimes referred to as "Gullah" Jack Pritchard, was a Methodist, an African conjurer, and a slave to Paul Pritchard in Charleston, South Carolina. Gullah Jack is historically known for aiding a free black man named Denmark Vesey in planning a large slave rebellion that would become known as Denmark Vesey's slave conspiracy in 1822. Using his Africa-based influence, Gullah Jack recruited for Vesey's plot African-born slaves as soldiers and provided them with charms as protection against the "buckra" (whites). He is also said to have used his spiritual powers to terrify others into keeping silent about the conspiracy. Historians believe Jack's strong African culture, contrasted against Vesey's preaching, helped attract many of the slaves that joined the revolt.

The Vesey plot involved taking over the state armory to arm rural slaves who would rise up and assist the others in revolt. The slaves would then kill the whites of Charleston, take the city, and finally use the city's ships to escape, supposedly, to Haiti, where slaves had overthrown the white government and now ruled. Eventually, the Vesey plot was leaked by other slaves that were coerced to confession. Consequently, South Carolina authorities hanged Vesey, Gullah Jack, and 34 other leading conspirators.

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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by CopperFox » Thu Jan 21, 2010 4:24 pm

Hello, Friends.

Recently I posted a link to an essay by Charles W. Chestnutt; it had a great deal of typographical errors, unfortunately. The following link includes the full text of that essay (w/o the typo's) plus several others by various authors. I hope you will enjoy reading them as much as I have.

Enjoy,

Michelle
:ugeek: Folklore-Geek-Extraordinaire :ugeek:

http://etext.virginia.edu/railton/proje ... texts.html
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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by MysticRootworker » Thu Jan 21, 2010 8:12 pm

Michelle
Thanks for the info. :-)

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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by Devi Spring » Sat Jan 23, 2010 3:59 pm

Thanks !
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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by Hoodoo Girl » Sat Jan 23, 2010 4:54 pm

Thank you for the helpful info! :D

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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by coastwitch » Sat Jan 23, 2010 5:45 pm

For a good starter list of historical articles on black folk magic, conjure, hoodoo, and rootwork, please see this page at Southern-Spirits.com --

AN ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY OF HOODOO SOURCE MATERIAL by Catherine Yronwode
http://www.southern-spirits.com/hoodoo- ... raphy.html

In addition, many short articles of historicl value are archived at the Southern-Spirits.com web site and can be reached via the site's index page:

SOUTHERN SPIRITS: GHOSTLY VOICES FROM DIXIE LAND
http://southern-spirits.com
coastwitch

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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by CopperFox » Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:24 pm

Hello, friends.

You are all most welcome. I especially enjoyed the Chesnutt piece about the "goophered" vineyard. When I locate more relevant public domain links, I will post them to this thread in the future for our continued entertainment and education.

To hear that hoodoo blues sound that Ms. cat so often refers to, go to npr.org and check out their story about Mississippi Delta Blues, featuring articles and music by Tommy Johnson and other hoodoo bluesmen. Update: 2-18-2010, this article is moving to the NRP archives at week's end, but should still be accessible via a site search.
Enjoy, it's good stuff!

Michelle

Also wanted to add: you might want to check the Wikipedia article on Robert Johnson, it's fairly well done. As hoodoo practicioners there is much to be read into what is reported and under-reported, especially the manner in which the crossroads ceremony Johnson purportedly gained his guitar mastery through is rather glossed over as the stuff of myth. I could find no mention of the crossroads ritual in the article for Tommy Johnson, not surprising, since many confuse the two musicians and their respective stories.
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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by Turnsteel » Tue Feb 16, 2010 7:06 pm

Hey y'all

A dear friend of mine passed me a link a while ago and I wanted to share it with you all here.

http://qucommunication.com/FACIpdf.pdf

This is Folklore From Adams County Illinois the first book written by famous (in some circles at least) Harry M. Hyatt. If you are unfamiliar with Mr. Hyatt's work you can read about it here: http://www.luckymojo.com/hyatt.html

The book is full of wonderful bits of folklore and in the section under "witchcraft" good down home hoodoo!

Now if only his other books were online, lol.
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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by CopperFox » Tue Feb 16, 2010 8:18 pm

HD --

Thank you so much for passing on that gem. Now, if only a site like Sacred Texts would/could publish the Hyatt volumes...which, by the way for those unfamiliar with that site -- they do have the full text of The Long Lost Friend up for your reading pleasure.

Veilen dank,

Michelle
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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by ConjureMan » Tue Feb 16, 2010 10:56 pm

Ah, good old Sacred Text.
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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by catherineyronwode » Wed Mar 17, 2010 10:16 am

Sacred Texts cannot publish books that are protected under copyright law, and neither can archive.org or the Gutenburg Project. End of story.
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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by Daytona12 » Mon May 03, 2010 6:19 pm

What is a Gullah Geech? I have heard they are conjure rootworkers and are they just as effective as regular rootworkers? DO they go more in depth in magical work?

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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by MysticRootworker » Mon May 03, 2010 6:24 pm

I only know that some Gullah live in South Carolina around Charleston. It is a culture of people. I guess that is the right way to say it. I have had the pleasure to meet several when I have visited there. They are artisians with their beautiful sweetgrass baskets. As for Geech, I am interested in hearing more about this.

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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by Devi Spring » Mon May 03, 2010 6:26 pm

Geech is a way to refer to the unique dialect that they speak, and can also be used to refer to someone who is part of the Gullah culture.
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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by catherineyronwode » Mon May 03, 2010 7:17 pm

Gullahs are descendants of slaves who came from the area of present day Angola in African. Gullah / Angola, get it?

Geechie, Geeshey, Geeshie, etc. are alternative spells for another name for these folks.

There are people of Geechie decent all over the USA, and a famous female blues singer, Geeshie Wiliey, was born in Mississippi. Angola is the name of a town in Louisiana.

The names Gullah and Geechie do not refer to hoodoo or rootwork per se or anyone having special talents or gifts for magical or spiritual practices. They refer only to the ethnic tribal group of the person's ancestry -- like Italian, or Mongolian, or Sephardic, or Aymara.

I am moving this thread to the Hoodoo in History section of the forum, where it belongs, as it is not about asking for help with someone's situation in life. :-)
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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by catherineyronwode » Sun Aug 08, 2010 5:54 pm

Thanks for posting!
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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by owlsfoot » Mon Dec 06, 2010 2:38 pm

Just an interesting tidbit of historical interest I came across the other day that I thought I would share: In searching for the origins of the phrase "to hit a straight lick with a crooked stick" (used by Hurston, et al.), I came across this early reference, by one Rev. Edward Corbet, England, 1642:

"Do not contemne thy weak brother. God can raise his thoughts, or direct his follie to a happie end, he can make him an Instrument of glorie, who is now a subject of weaknesse, and can strike a streight stroake with a crooked stick."

There are a couple of other mid- to late 17th Century variants of the phrase I found as well, all by English clergymen. The phrase may be a loose adaptation of a Biblical verse, a general Biblical reference, or an older bit of Anglo folklore--it may not be possible to trace out the precise origins. But apparently the phrase was brought to the States by English settlers, and was at some point adopted by African-American (and other) communities in the South, where it has enjoyed good use.

Ah, the fascinating twists and turns of folkloric history.

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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by catherineyronwode » Mon Dec 06, 2010 5:44 pm

I have not known this to be an especially Black phrase -- i have heard it from White folks in the South.
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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by owlsfoot » Fri Dec 10, 2010 11:09 pm

Cat: That's interesting. To this point I have personally only heard (or seen) Black folks use it. That must simply be circumstantial, then.

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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by Miss Bri » Sat Dec 11, 2010 8:08 am

This is a saying that many in my family use and we are white. Well, technically we are a big old mess of different races, ethnicities, and cultures but on our census forms most of us are going to check the "caucasian" box :-)
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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by Sunnyafternoon » Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:17 pm

I have been unsuccessful finding a copy of Harry Hyatt's works. The few scattered copies for sale cost a fortune.

1) Does anyone know a library or college who has an inter-library loan program for graduate students?

2) When I've told people in academia what these books were about they seemed either horrified or offended.

3) Has anyone any suggestions?

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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by catherineyronwode » Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:38 pm

1) Hyatt printed 3,000 copies of each book. He gave most of Volumes 1 and 2 away to university libraries around the company and to large public libraries in the South. When he published volumes 3, 4, and 5 he thought the libraries would buy them, to complete their sets, after his generous gifts, but they did not. As a result, when he died there were more copies of volumes 3, 4, and 5 left unsold.

Lucky Mojo sold Hyatt sets for years -- hundreds of complete 5-volume sets -- and after copies the first two volumes ran out, we followed by selling hundreds of sets of the remaining 3 volumes. You are simply late for the party, my dear. I have two sets, my husband has a set.

Everyone who was around from the mid 1970s to the early 2000s has a set -- and, as i said, many libraries either have the Volume 1 and 2 "freebies" or the complete 5-volume sets.

When i was selling them in the 1990s, people complained because i charged $100.00 per volume and you had to buy all 5 volumes as a set. I used to have a whole back section of the office filled with these sets in unopened printers' boxes from the 1970s and i was lucky if i sold one set per week. Once the stock of remaining copies was depleted, the market set its own new value on the books.

Funny how the sudden explosion of interest in hoodoo suddenly drove the price through the roof.

2) Too long a story for this Forum. I can tell you a lot, but you will have to schedule a paid phone consultation (reading) with me for at least half an hour and i will tell you the story behind the story. In detail.

3) Inter-library loan -- all you need to do is get into your local inter-library loan system.

Please read these two pages for more information and for how you can help rebuild the Hyatt collection in the date-order and by the location the material was collected:

http://luckymojo.com/hyatt.html

http://luckymojo.com/hyattinformants.html

Also consider picking up a copy of "Folk Beliefs of the Southern Negro" by Newbell Niles Puckett (1926; reprinted several times).

Good luck
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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by Mama Micki » Wed Aug 22, 2012 6:35 am

Provided that his estate consents, and the copyright issues are dealt with (although this book may now be in public domain), an ambitious person or company should look into reprinting the Hyatt books.
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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by Doctor Hob » Wed Aug 22, 2012 10:26 am

That would be wonderful. I managed to pick up volumes 3,4, and 5 a few months ago, but I despair at ever finding the first 2.
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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by blackmirror » Tue Dec 03, 2013 10:56 pm

Greetings!

For anyone interested in the history and folklore of Savannah, GA and the surrounding area,i recommend "Drums and Shadows" by Mary Granger. (Quite a few mentions of rootwork.)

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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by Adde3 » Wed Jan 01, 2014 8:45 pm

It is a phrase that originated in the black community during slavery but in some areas it made it's way into the general dialect of the south. I remember hearing old people say someone has a straight lick with a crooked stick usually when someone does something extraordinary.
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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by kittymojo » Thu Feb 06, 2014 5:32 am

Loved the Mary Alicia Owens! Thank you for the link.

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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by jwmcclin » Thu Feb 06, 2014 7:20 am

lousydowser thanks, I need a good read.
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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by liminalSister » Thu Aug 28, 2014 2:42 pm

Hello Everyone!

I was looking on the forum for this info and I didn't see an answer to this. I know Harry Hyatt used field recording equipment to assist in gathering the source materials for his books. I wonder if any of those wax cylinders still exist? Is anyone in contact with his estate? Wouldn't it be amazing to hear some of the original men and women describing their work? When I bought my volume 4 of the set I seem to recall the seller telling me this copy (still in its shipping box) came from the Hyatt family storage where they had sat unsold during his life (what a shame)

In any case I have always been curious about the original recordings..

Thanks!
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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by catherineyronwode » Thu Aug 28, 2014 11:07 pm

No, the wax cylinders do not exist. They were expensive, and once each cylinder was transcribed, Mr. Hyatt sent it in to be resurfaced for re-use. This is why he transcribed everything phonetically; he knew the recordings would be wiped out.

He did make a shellac record of one person, a very short clip.

That's it.
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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by Lovemydogs » Wed Sep 17, 2014 6:26 pm

Hello,

I was interested in ordering Hoodoo - Conjuration -
Witchcraft - Rootwork" book
by
HARRY MIDDLETON HYATT but I could not find the link to order that book and I would like to add that book to a list of other materials that I am waiting to purchase.

Could anyone suggest anything?

Thank You. 8-)

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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by J-Mo » Thu Sep 18, 2014 3:45 am

Hello lovemydogs,

To my knowledge, after a decade of selling them, Hyatt's books "Hoodoo - Conjuration -Witchcraft - Rootwork" are no longer carried by Lucky Mojo because the stock left behind at Mr. Hyatt's death was all sold. A limited number of these books were published, so they are rare and costly.

However Lucky Mojo has provided information on Hyatt and his informants. Check out the following links.

http://www.luckymojo.com/hyatt.html

http://www.luckymojo.com/hyattinformants.html

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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by Frank Owen » Fri Sep 19, 2014 12:01 am

Greetings lovemydogs.

The best thing to do, with the Hyatt books, is first, contact your library and see if they can get them on inter-library loan. I did, and actually got one, and they let me have it for 3 months!!
Some libraries will get them as reference materials and you will have to go to the library and take notes.

And finally , a well known online book chain, one you all know, often turns up copies, or even sets of these books. Be forewarned they are EXPENSIVE, but worth tracking down (if the rest are like the vol one which I have for another 3 weeks!

Just keep an eye out, and do not hesitate to try your library's Inter-Library Loan System!

Good Luck!

Frank

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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by catherineyronwode » Sat Sep 20, 2014 11:34 pm

Interlibrary loan is a great way to get these and other rare books. I also recommend that everyone who is seriously interested in hoodoo read "Folk Beliefs of the Southern Negro" by Newbell Niles Puckkett.
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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by Dr_TJ Soul » Wed Oct 29, 2014 4:43 pm

Hello all,

I am here looking for more money information. I have a reasonable library, but I dont own any of Harry Hyatt Books. I recently found a deal on a few Harry Hyatt books. I know that most books have a wide variety of information, but I was wondering if there is one Harry Hyatt book with a strong amount of money information.

Thanks
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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by ProfessorAmes » Wed Oct 29, 2014 7:04 pm

Hi Dr_TJ Soul,

The Hyatt books are difficult to obtain, particularly volume 1 and 2 as they were published in a much more limited basis. Interlibrary loan is your best bet to get the books to you.

The structure of the books is not by spell type, but by interview (generally so). So, while gathering the information he recorded whatever type of information they provided. In the later volumes, there was some attempt to index the structure of the book, like a table of contents, but no indexing by spell type or such. There is mention of a final volume 6 to include an index (and I assume cross index by subject) by his assistant Michael Edward Bell. This was never published to my knowledge.

You have to remember that Hyatt was a folklorist, his interest was in capturing the stories and the people involved in the tradition. This was not intended as "how to" book at all.

Hope that helps.
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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by Dr_TJ Soul » Thu Oct 30, 2014 5:16 am

Thank you Professor Ames
I appreciate it.

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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by catherineyronwode » Mon Sep 04, 2017 8:27 am

This is a repost of a dialogue between Papa Gee and myself. I am bringing it here because it may be of interest to my students and others who are working with the "Hoodoo - Conjure - Witchcraft - Rootwork" and "Folk-Lore from Adams County Illinois" collections by Harry M. Hayatt.

Papa Gee:

found a 1935 folklore from adams county illinois harry hyatt for $150. Worth buying for that price?
I couldn't stand it. Afraid someone would snatch it up and bought it. Looks in wonderful condition.
have you sold all your other sets of Hyatt books?

Catherine:

$150.00 is a fair price for FACI, 1935. When i bought from the storage shed in which Harry Hyatt's unsold books were kept, i paid $20.00 a copy and sold them for $50.00 a copy and they sold very slowly, as did the 1965 edition of FACI and the 5 volumes of HCWR. It took me about 7 years to sell all the books i acquired (hundreds of them), at $50.00 per volume.

All of Hyatt's stored books entered the marketplace in due time, and i have had none for sale for the past 10 years. After my supply was exhausted, prices rose dramatically as the books became "objects of virtue" in their own right -- unopened tomes that some people sought to possess for reasons of perceived prestige.

I recommend that all professionals and home practitioners read the HCWR books.

In them you will find mostly older, rural tricks (Hyatt's average interview subject was born in the 1880s - 1890s) and although hoodoo drugstore products were in wide use by then (as one can see by reading the earlier "Black and White Magic of Marie Laveau" or "Mules and Men" books by other authors), relatively few tricks made with products were collected by Hyatt as he clearly stated that his mission was to refer back one or two generations. He preferred unschooled and rural informants, and he marked as "N.G." (no good) some interviews with root doctors who purchased from or worked at hoodoo drug stores. This does not make him a bad collector of folklore, but rather one who set himself a carefully delimited set of goals and fulfilled those goals admirably.
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OnyxRose
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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by OnyxRose » Thu Oct 01, 2020 7:30 pm

I’m late posting here, but I found out recently on YouTube (like, several months ago) that Geetchies actually came from Sierra Leone. I’m not sure if it were all or most of them. But there was even one video that seemed to show the President of Sierra Leone visiting them on the Islands off the Carolina coastline...apparently to acknowledge them.

It was a surprise to me, because my mom told me as a kid that we were part Geetchie. She said it only once, but the name was strange enough for me to remember. Later when I grew up, I discovered only a couple of women who claimed Geetchie heritage, one in person and one on a video online. Those were even bigger surprises, since I thought we were the only ones. (I live on the Left Coast.) So I knew about Creoles, but not Geetchies.
Since I thought maybe Geetchie was an African tribe, I asked someone at where I worked at the time who happened to be from Africa if she heard of them. She said “no,” of course. I thought that was strange. However, later I asked a Native American, and she enthusiastically told me she absolutely had heard of them. I was totally confused then. Like thinking, “Were Geetchies actually Native American? I saw grandma had skin as dark as India ink when mom and I once visited her and grandpa in Valdosta, Georgia for Christmas vacation, but....” It didn’t make sense.

Me, being clueless.

At the risk of saying too much about myself, great grandma Darkas...the woman whom The Federal Writers’ Project called Aunt Darkas...was on my mom’s side of the family. And she just might have been Geetchie, since mom had only one African line in her family, and that was female...her, her mom, her grandma...all the way back to when a woman and her son were bought from an African chief for what I would consider as some worthless trinkets. (That certainly wasn’t money as we would recognize it.) The name “Darkas” was peculiar enough for me to think there probably weren’t that many people in the US with such a name, let alone women. (I even mispronounced it in my head as a kid. “Darkas? Is it Darkas...or Darkness? She must have really meant “Darkness.” [insert total red-faced embarrassment here]) Anyway, there was probably only one “Darkas,” and I’m almost willing to bet she was my great grandma, and that she was Geetchie.

Okay, that was weird to type. I’m just an ordinary person. Mentioning notable people in the family makes me nervous.
“Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people....” I Kings 3:9

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Rapacia
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Re: Ethnographic Sources for Historical Information on Hoodoo

Unread post by Rapacia » Thu Oct 08, 2020 5:01 pm

You can find all five Middleton volumes on archive.org. At least as of now. I mention this to report possible copyright infringement, not to suggest its existence on archive.org as a legitimate way to obtain the material.

Also, a site called Memphis Conjure claims to sell the volumes as downloads, $10.00 each.

Who owns the copyright to Middleton's books?
Rapacia
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