View Full Version : Zora Neale Hurston's ukulele

03-25-2019, 07:58 AM
I came across a photo of Zora Neale Hurston from 1927, posing with a ukulele and a rather cool coat. (She apparently wore a shoulder holster with a pistol under that coat, too.) There doesn't seem to be any information out there on her ukulele - can anyone tell what it is?

It looks like it might be a Martin headstock, maybe a style 0, but the tuner buttons appear to be white (maybe?). In 1927, it could have been several things. Not much to go on, but it's a cool photo either way.

Full size image at the Yale library (https://brbl-media.library.yale.edu/images/1063950_quarter.jpg)


03-25-2019, 04:33 PM
The body shape with the narrow waist reminds me of the Jonah Kumalae style. The early Portuguese builders had similar shapes.

03-25-2019, 06:06 PM
That's so cool! And look at that hat! My grandmother was still dressing like that in the 60s, but as far as I know, she never played ukulele. Great find.

03-26-2019, 08:27 AM
It is a bit of a narrow waist - that's a good point. There's more you can glean from these old photos than you might think at first. A narrow-waisted soprano, no binding visible, possibly white buttons on the peg (maybe silver), available in 1927 in the Eastern US. That's a decent start for one blurry photo.

03-27-2019, 03:35 PM
That is awesome. I would’ve never thought “Zora Neale Hurston” and “ukulele” would ever appear in the same thought, yet here they are in the same photo. Wow. Thank you for sharing.