Skip to Search

Seminole music

Finding aid prepared by Joyce Dewsbury

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections
August 2004

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Boehmer, William
Title: Seminole music
Dates: Date unknown
Abstract: A recording of Seminole music made at the Brighton Reservation in the 1930s.
Extent: 0.01 Linear feet. Reel audio recording, 7 1/2 ips, Mono. Duration: 00:31:13.
Identification: Recording Number 14
Language(s): English

Biographical/Historical Note

At the time of this recording, William Boehmer was a teacher at the Indian Day School at the Brighton Reservation in Florida. Later, he was community services officer of the Seminole Indian agency in Hollywood, Florida.

Scope and Content

The original format of this recording is unknown. The digital audio file was produced from a reel-to-reel tape made at the Library of Congress in 1955.

A hand written note by R.T.King (oral historian) enclosed in the box with the reel-to-reel tape states the following. "The second song on the tape is introduced by a Mr. William Boehmer. Mr. Boehmer was formerly the teacher at the Indian Day School on the Brighton Reservation, and he indicates in his introduction that the recording is being made at the school. This would date the recording as being sometime after 1937, as the school was not in existence until the late 1930s." The note also states that the tape was "evidently copied from was cylinder recordings made by Miss Densmore," but this is crossed out.

Recordings 1-11 are Florida Seminole. With the exception of number 2 all are dance songs from the Green Corn Dance or Hunting Dance. Number 12 is not Seminole. The subject was apparently a black woman, born in 1831. It may have been added accidently when the Library of Congress made this tape or it may have been part of the original recording.

00:00:00-00:02:07 A man sings.

00:02:10-00:02:25 Introduction by Mr. William Boehmer followed by a Seminole girl singing a traditional Seminole song.

00:02:56-00:03:41 Several men sing.

00:03:47-00:08:01 A longer song with some call and response pattern. One male singer leads off with a phrase followed by several men singing.

00:08:11-00:10:27 Another song with some guttural sounds.

00:10:31-00:12:07 A song with a call and response pattern and whooping sounds.

00:12:19-00:13:34 A man sings a solo and there is a sound of a rattle shaking.

00:13:39-00:16:32 A beating of a drum is heard with a chorus of voices and intermittent yipping. The volume increases at intervals.

00:16:11-00:20:34 A sort of background drone and a main voice. Phrases are repetitive. The phrases end in almost a singing cheer with two tones.

00:20:45-00:23:39 Sound is very faint. The lead singer is a woman and one or two other women sing along.

00:23:46-00:27:48 A group of men sing. Again one male voice leads with a beginning phrase and then the other male voices join in. This song concludes with two distinct yips.

00:27:57-00:31:13 A woman's voice can be heard speaking. A woman then sings. The words are difficult to understand but the song is reminiscent of the song "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child".

Access or Use Restrictions


The recording is available for research.

Usage Restrictions

This recording may not be reproduced without the permission of the Library of Congress.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Seminole music, Audio Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Selected Subjects and Access Terms

Seminole Indians--Music

For further information, please contact: Special Collections Access Services.

University of Florida Home Page