Notasulga, Alabama

Zora Neale Hurston was born in Notasulga, Macon County, on January 15, 1891. Her parents were John Cornelius Hurston II and Lucy (Lula) Potts Hurston. John Hurston was born in slavery in 1861, "on de other side de Big Creek"; whereas, his wife was born in 1865, to freed slaves who became small landholders. Notasulga was part of the Old South, located a few miles from Booker T. Washington's Tuskegee Institute.

Eatonville, Florida

Zora Neale Hurston's father, John Cornelius Hurston, moved to Eatonville in 1892 or 1893, a year or two after Hurston's birth. Eatonville had come into existence in the 1880's, when Joe Clarke, an African–American ex–slave from Georgia, asked Lewis Lawrence, a white philanthropist from New York, to assist him in creating a town for black citizens. Lawrence first donated ten acres that he had purchased from Josiah Eaton for the founding of a church and, later, sold 12 more acres to Clarke for the establishment of the town. Other white residents of Maitland sold 100 acres to Clarke, who re–sold small 40' x 100' lots to black settlers. Twenty–seven African–American men incorporated Eatonville on August 18, 1887. John Hurston was one of the early leaders of the town, serving as mayor for three terms and as pastor of the Macedonian Baptist Church. Zora Neale Hurston lived in the town from 1892 or 1893 until 1904, when her mother died. She attended Hungerford Academy and attended her father's church. In her later life, she returned often to the town for visits and was inspired by her professor at Barnard College, Franz Boas, to record the town's folk history, tales, and songs for posterity. In 1938, she joined the Federal Writers' Project of the WPA and worked on The Florida Negro. She continued to gather folk tales and songs and records music in the Everglades. In 1939 she staged two productions of folklore from The Great Day entitled The Fire Dance in association with the FPA. In June 1939, she collected folklore and songs for the L of C and the Folk Arts Committee of the WPA.

Jacksonville, Florida

Zora Neale Hurston moved to Jacksonville two weeks after her mother's death on September 18, 1904. She joined her sister Sara and brother Bob, who were attending school at Florida Baptist Academy. Her oldest brother, John Cornelius also lived and worked in the city. Life was difficult for Hurston during the period that she resided in Jacksonville. Not only did her father refuse to pay for her schooling but he asked her school to adopt her. By late 1905, she was out of school and had to make a living on her own or depend on her siblings for housing and food. Few records exist concerning Hurston's life from 1905–14, but she was probably residing off and on with her brothers, Robert and John in Jacksonville. In Jacksonville, for the first time, she encountered racism, which, in her words, "made me know that I was a little colored girl." Ironically, on June 27, 1939, Hurston married Albert Price, III, a member of Jacksonville's black Sugar Hill society. They filed for divorce on November 9, 1943.

Sanford, Florida

When John Hurston migrated to Florida in 1892 or 1893, he first settled in Sanford and became the pastor at Zion Hope Baptist Church. Sanford, located ten miles north of Eatonville, had a large African–American community in the early 1900's. Zora Neale Hurston lived in the community on two occasions: in 1912, when she lived with brother Dick for a short period of time and in 1933, when she moved to a boarding house in July to write Jonah's Gourd Vine. She finished the book in seven weeks and was evicted from her room on the day the book was accepted for publication in early October.


The New Negro Movement in the arts, otherwise known as the Harlem Renaissance, began in 1919 when black soldiers returned from the Great War and ended in 1934 during the Great Depression. Alain Locke in The New Negro explains that rather than use militancy to gain African–American rights and recognition, "the more immediate hope rests in the revaluation by white and black alike of the Negro in terms of his artistic endowments and cultural contributions, past and prospective." Zora Neale Hurston entered the Harlem Renaissance in 1924, when she submitted a story, "Drenched in Light," to Opportunity, the official publication of the National Urban League. The editor, Charles S. Johnson, published the story and began to correspond with Hurston, soon urging her to move to Harlem. She took a leap of faith and "jumped at the sun," making the move in January 1925. She soon met the other writers and intellectuals of Harlem and was able to continue her studies at Barnard College. Her engaging personality, her amusing stories of Eatonville, and her raw creative talent soon made her a shining star of the Harlem Renaissance. She enjoyed meeting all of the "Niggerati" and "Negrotarians," as she described them.

Carla Kaplan in Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters notes that Hurston resided at the following New York residences:


  • 163 West 131st Street, New York
  • 1014 Rivington Street, Roselle, New Jersey
  • 624 West 4th Street, Plainfield, New Jersey
  • 260 West 139th Street (September)
  • 27 West 67th Street (November)
  • 108 131st Street (December)


  • 43 West 66th Street (summer)–Hurston moves out in April 1932


  • Dewey Square Hotel


  • Hotel Theresa (spring)


  • Lives on 55th Street (fall)
  • 124th Street (November)
  • 140 West 112th Street (fall)
  • Moves to the Bronx
  • 1950: 239 West 131st Street (September to early December)

St. Augustine, Florida

Zora Neale Hurston's first marriage to Herbert Sheen took place on May 19, 1927, in St. Augustine. Her folklore expeditions often took her to America's oldest town. In the summer of 1929, she was hospitalized at Flagler Hospital with liver problems and in 1942, she settled here in April to revise Dust Tracks on a Road. She briefly taught part–time at Florida Normal College, a black school. Her stay in St. Augustine was significant for another reason–she established a lifelong friendship with the other famous female author in Florida, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. They visited at Castle Warden Hotel in St. Augustine, which was owned and operated by Rawlings's husband, Norton Baskin. Rawlings also invited Hurston to visit her home in Cross Creek. Hurston left St. Augustine to live in Daytona Beach in 1943.

Polk County, Florida

Zora Neale Hurston found a treasure trove of folklore and music in the turpentine camp near Loughman, Florida, in March of 1928. During this folklore expedition, she also visited Mulberry, Pierce, and Lakeland. She returned to the turpentine camp at Loughman in the summer of 1934 to revise Mules and Men.

Eau Gallie, Florida

Zora Neale Hurston first discovered Eau Gallie in April 1929 when she rented a house near the Indian River and worked on Mules and Men. Twenty years later, in 1951, she was able to move back into her same home. She lived in her home for five years and enjoyed working on the house and in the garden. During this period she had medical problems and financial difficulties. She earned money by covering the Ruby McCollum trial for Mules and Men, from October 1952–May 1953. She also worked on her Herod the Great manuscript, which was rejected by several publishers. She was evicted from her home in March 1956 and moved out two months later.

Daytona Beach, Florida

In 1933, Zora Neale Hurston was invited by Mary McLeod Bethune to stage her play, From Sun to Sun, at Bethune–Cookman College in Daytona Beach. The play was also performed at Daytona Beach's segregated public auditorium. Bethune asked Hurston to start a school of drama at the college in December 1933. Hurston accepted and moved to Daytona in January 1934. Unfortunately, the plan for the drama school did not materialize, mainly because Hurston had no resources with which to work and, therefore, could stage no productions. She did succeed in taking a dance troupe–The Primitive Negro Folklore Group–– to perform at the National Folk Festival in St. Louis. Eleven years later, in 1945, Hurston briefly returned to Daytona Beach to live in a houseboat, the Sun Tan.

Miami, Florida

Zora Neale Hurston moved to Miami in 1929 to work on the revision of her folklore manuscript, Negro Folk–Tales from the Gulf States. Some of this material was later published in Mules and Men. In January 1950, Hurston returned to give a reading at the Dade County Library. In financial difficulties, she found work as a maid on Rivo Island. Her employer discovered her identity when she noticed the March 18, 1950, issue of The Saturday Evening Post, which published Hurston's "The Conscience of the Court." Later that year Hurston moved into the home of George Smathers at 443 N.E. 38th Street in Miami, in order to support him in his Senate campaign against Claude Pepper and also to assist his father Frank in writing an autobiography, entitled It's Wonderful to Live Again.

Fort Pierce, Florida

Zora Neale Hurston spent the last years of her life in Ft. Pierce. It became her place of residence after she was evicted from her Eau Gallie home. She had been living in a trailer on Merritt island in December 1957, when C.E. Bolen invited her to write articles for The Fort Pierce Chronicle, a black weekly. She also was a substitute teacher at Lincoln Park Academy in February 1958 and helped establish a black playground in the city. During this period, her health problems increased, culminating in a series of strokes in 1959. In May of 1959, she applied for welfare to cover her medicines and in June she received food vouchers. On October 29, she entered the St. Lucie County Welfare Home. Hurston died on January 28, 1960, of hypertensive heart disease. She was buried in an unmarked grave at the Garden of Heavenly Rest in Ft. Pierce.

Caribbean Islands

When Zora Neale Hurston became an anthropologist, she was not only compelled to explore her African–American heritage in Florida but also to travel further afield, to the Caribbean. She used scholarship money, grants, and advances on her books to finance fieldtrips to Caribbean islands. In October 1929, she traveled to the Bahamas for two weeks, doing research and filming dances. She experienced a violent hurricane, which later became the climax to Their Eyes Were Watching God. She was able to return to the Bahamas in January and February of 1930 to finish her fieldwork, which was published in an article entitled "Dance Songs and Tales from the Bahamas" in the Journal of American Folklore (July–September issue). Six years later in April of 1936, Hurston went to Kingston, Jamaica, to study the Maroons and stayed with them until late August. Afterwards, she visited Haiti and lived there until the end of the year. In early November 1936, she began writing Their Eyes Were Watching God and finished it the third week of December. She returned to Haiti in May 1937 and became very ill, possibly from her voodoo research. When she recovered, she traveled to the south end of Haiti in July, spent August sightseeing, and returned to the U.S. in September. Tell My Horse is the book that she published from her research in Jamaica and Haiti. It appeared in October 1938. Nearly ten years were to pass before Hurston was able to return to the Caribbean. On May 4, 1947, she set sail to Honduras with the money that she obtained from a Scribner's advance for Seraph on the Suwanee. While in Honduras, she settled on the north coast at Puerto Cortes, staying at the Hotel Cosenza, and worked on Seraph on the Suwanee. She left Honduras on February 20, 1948. A year later, beginning in July 1949, she sailed to the Bahamas for five months on the boat of her friend, Fred Irvine.