My thesis will focus on Marjorie’s perception of the Florida pioneers, known as the Florida Crackers, with whom she lived in the scrub forest. My research will focus on her justification for the illegal activities – such as moonshining and hunting out of season – these Cracker families participated in as a method of subsistence. This will fit into greater historiographical literature on the culture of class and the exemption of certain classes to laws that threaten their livelihood. I believe that in a time of development and transition, such as of land development and the tourist economy of Florida in the early 20th century, will give us a clear picture of the consequences of what happens when a dominant society imposes rules upon an isolated, self-sustaining culture.
Marjorie’s writings and observations, both her personal and published works, will offer a unique perspective, as she was both an observer and a participant.
I am currently reading biographies on MKR and her personal letters in this beginning stage of my research. I feel it is important to understand her as a character – her impulses, her goals, and her perceptions of life in Florida – in order to understand her opinions on the exemption of Cracker families from the law.
This is from Gordon E. Bigelow’s Frontier Eden, the first extensive biography written on Marjorie:
The move from Rochester to Cross Creek has something of a grand gesture in it, and to all her other motives must be added her romantic desire to play a role which combined features of several rural myths: that of the simple farm wife tending to her house and garden and barnyard, and that of the female squire riding to the hounds or galloping about on a blooded horse supervising her acres and in the evening acting the gracious hostess in a long gown. Each of these myths got written into her stories and each in some measure she played out in real life.
The reason I love reading about Marjorie is because I see so many similarities between us. If I am to be honest, I should mention that I, too, have romantic notions about this thesis project. My “myths” are: that of a diligent scholar becoming learned in any particular subject area, and the thrill of getting lost in the archives full of wondrous material to explore, and that of a half-insane writer who has restless nights working off an inspiration for hours on end to write something great. Surely, like Marjorie, I will also discover the extent to which my myths resemble the reality of my endeavor.
I am so excited to have my very own research cart, labeled and reserved for me, at the UF Special Collections Library. Like Marjorie, I can on some level play out these myths I have in mind.