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Zora Neale Hurston (January 7, 1891 – January 28, 1960), was an African-American novelist, memoirist, and ethnographer best known for Their Eyes Were Watching God, her 1937 novel.

Her love of story would lead her not only to create her own, but to collect stories from the oral traditions of the African-American South and the Black cultures of the Caribbean.

Hurston quickly became a big name in the Harlem Renaissance movement of the 1920s. She pursued a dual career as a writer (producing fiction, plays, and essays) and as an anthropologist.


Zora was the first black student at Barnard College, the women’s college connected with Columbia. There, starting in 1925, she studied with the noted anthropologist Franz Boas, who recognized her talent for storytelling and interest in black cultures of the American South and Caribbean. She was 37 when she graduated in 1928 with a B.A. in anthropology.


In 1936, Zora received a Guggenheim fellowship, which allowed her to delve even more deeply into her research. She traveled to Jamaica and Haiti, with the grant, collecting stories and collecting material.

Her research resulted in two nonfiction collections about the culture and language of the peoples she researched — "Mules and Men" and "Tell My Horse".

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