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Bouncing Baby
The film Bouncing Baby, featured here, is a prime example of the works produced by the Vim Comedy Company in Jacksonville, Florida, during the early years of silent films. Favorable weather, political support, and cheap real estate and labor helped to make Jacksonville a major center for motion picture production in this period. The mayor of Jacksonville in 1915−17, J.E.T. Bowden, set out to restore business confidence in northeastern Florida after a recessionary slump and extended an open invitation “to the moving picture fraternity of this country ...
Interposition Resolution by the Florida Legislature in Response to Brown v. Board of Education, 1957, with Handwritten Note by Florida Governor LeRoy Collins
In 1957, the Florida State Legislature passed a resolution in opposition to the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education, the Topeka, Kansas, case that ended legal segregation in public education. Racial segregation was originally found to be constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark Plessy v. Ferguson case in 1896. The decision laid the foundation for what became known as Jim Crow laws by declaring segregation legal if the facilities were “separate but equal.” The Brown decision removed that foundation, and many ...
A Grant of Indian Territory from the Upper Creek Indians as also the Lower Creeks and Seminoles to Colonel Thomas Brown Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Southern District of North America
This document is an enclosure originally submitted by Henry Lee IV to Florida territorial judge Augustus Brevoort Woodward in September 1824. Lee sought Woodward’s assistance in securing claim to property purchased by his father, General Henry Lee, from Thomas Brown in 1817. On March 1, 1783, several “Kings and Warriors” representing Upper Creek, Lower Creek, and Seminole towns affixed their names and family marks to a document granting Thomas Brown, a British superintendent of Indian affairs, substantial territory west of Saint Augustine in what was then British East Florida ...
Florida's Canal Main Street
Interest in constructing a water route across the Florida peninsula goes back to the colonial rule of the Spanish and the British and continued when Florida became a territory of the United States in 1821. The earliest American surveys for a possible canal in Florida were undertaken in the wake of excitement surrounding the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825. President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the first significant work on a cross-Florida canal as part of New Deal public works programs in Florida. After much debate, construction on route ...
Seminoles with Irons During Round-up and Branding at the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation
The cattle industry in Florida began soon after the nation’s oldest city, Saint Augustine, was established in 1565. Spaniards imported livestock to meet the needs of the small but critical colony. By the dawn of the 18th century, Spanish, African, and Native American cattlemen worked cows on the vast wet prairies and scrublands found throughout northern and central Florida. La Chula, the largest ranch in Spanish Florida, boasted thousands of head of cattle in the late 1600s. Seminole migrants took up cattle herding in northern Florida following the destruction ...
Portrait of Seminole Indian Cowboy Charlie Micco at the Brighton Indian Reservation
Seminole Indians dominated Florida’s cattle industry during the early 19th century. The Seminoles themselves, not originally cattle people, inherited abandoned Spanish livestock in the 18th century and adopted herding into their own culture. Seminole cattle all but vanished as a result of fighting during the Seminole Wars (1817−18, 1835−42, and 1855−58). Following the removal of the vast majority of the Seminoles and the seizure of their cattle, the remaining Florida Indians adapted their herding culture to the abundant supply of wild hogs found in central and ...
Ringling Circus Clown Emmett Kelly in Sarasota, Florida
Emmett Kelly (1898−1979), pictured here, portrayed the melancholy hobo-clown Weary Willie for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for more than a decade. His act differed from that of the typical jovial clown and made Weary Willie one of the most memorable components of the Ringling Brothers show. The Ringling Brothers built the show from humble beginnings in Baraboo, Wisconsin, into the largest and best-known American circus. They began their ascent in show business in 1884 when they combined with the Yankee Robinson circus. The following year the Ringlings bought out Yankee Robinson and became sole proprietors of the traveling show. The Ringling Brothers quickly acquired smaller circus shows and sought out the top performers from around the world. In 1919, the Ringlings merged their two largest ventures—Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey—into a single, combined circus, the “Greatest Show on Earth.” In 1927, the circus moved its winter quarters from Bridgeport, Connecticut, to Sarasota, Florida. Members of the Ringling family had wintered in Sarasota since 1911. This photograph, taken in 1947, is by Joseph Janney Steinmetz, a world-renowned commercial photographer whose images appeared in such publications as the Saturday Evening Post, Life, Look, Time, Holiday, Collier's, and Town & Country. His work has been referred to as "an American social history," which documented diverse scenes of American life. Steinmetz moved from Philadelphia to Sarasota in 1941.
Killing Time
Highways to the southern states of the United States opened up during the second decade of the 20th century, allowing men and women from around the country to see the unique sites of Florida's interior, away from the cities on the east and west coasts. After the completion of the highway from Montreal to Miami in 1915, the number of automobile tourists increased dramatically. The original “tin can tourists” of the 1920s pioneered camper travel, and the practice became ever more popular after World War II, as young families ...
Rescue Train Swept off the Tracks by the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane
On September 2, 1935, a powerful hurricane slammed into the middle Florida Keys. Known as the Labor Day Hurricane, it was the first Category 5 storm to strike the United States in recorded history. The hurricane claimed at least 485 lives, including about 260 World War I veterans working on a section of the Overseas Highway in a federal relief project. The veterans came from the ranks of the Bonus Army, a group of soldiers who camped at the steps of the U.S. Capitol in the early 1930s to ...
Devastation in Miami from the 1926 Hurricane
Florida, especially the southeastern portion of the state, experienced rapid growth in the early 20th century. The land boom of the 1920s brought thousands of new residents and ushered in a period of unprecedented construction. The prosperity initiated by the arrival of the Plant and Flagler railroads and prolonged by endless boosterism came to a screeching halt in mid-September 1926. A catastrophic hurricane made landfall near Miami Beach in the early morning hours of September 18, 1926. Known as the Great Miami Hurricane, the storm cut a path of destruction ...
Coffins Stacked Along the Bank of a Canal After the Hurricane of 1928, Belle Glade, Florida
Just two days before the second anniversary of the Great Miami Hurricane that wreaked havoc in South Florida, another powerful storm made landfall in the state. The Category 4 hurricane caused at least 1,500 deaths in the Caribbean before making landfall in Palm Beach County on September 16, 1928. The storm resulted in an estimated $25 million in damage along Florida’s Atlantic Coast, from Fort Pierce to Boca Raton. The greatest damage occurred inland, however, especially along the southern shore of Lake Okeechobee. As the hurricane passed over ...
Marjory Stoneman Douglas World War I Service Card
Marjory Stoneman Douglas, best known as an environmentalist and author of The River of Grass (1947), served in the United States Navy during World War I, from April 1917 to May 1918. Frank Bryant Stoneman, Marjory’s father and editor-in-chief of the Miami Herald, sent his daughter to cover the story of the first woman in the Miami area to enlist in the armed forces during World War I. Douglas was the first to arrive at the recruiting office, and became the very woman she was sent to report on ...
Wakulla Springs Glass-Bottom Boat Tour Chant by Luke Smith
The sound recording presented here features a chant recited by Luke Smith at the 1981 Florida Folk Festival in White Springs, Florida. Smith, a longtime guide on the Wakulla River, sings about the underwater environment and summons fish to the boat. His chant is reminiscent of African-American spirituals and field hollers common throughout the Deep South of the United States. Alligators, snakes, rare birds, and native exoticism are part of Florida’s tourism industry. Narrated boat tours at sites such as Wakulla Springs State Park, located at the spring south ...
Waters of Destiny
The systematic drainage of the Florida Everglades began in earnest in 1905. Napoleon Bonaparte Broward, then Florida’s governor, committed significant state funds and solicited federal assistance in order to reclaim from underutilization the vast swamplands south of Lake Okeechobee. The ultimate goal of the Everglades reclamation was to access rich “muck” soil, covered in many areas by a thin layer of freshwater. Muck soil consisted of thousands of years of organic material accumulated on top of limestone bedrock. The muck made for ready and productive topsoil, but was quickly ...
Whip Cracking Demonstration—L.K. Edwards, Junior
Fredric Remington introduced Americans to the “Florida Cracker” cowboy in the August 1895 issue of Harper’s Magazine. Remington sketched and wrote about the fiercely independent breed of Florida cattlemen, who herded cattle and battled rustlers along the frontier. For Remington and many of his contemporaries, the Florida they knew resembled a frontier as much as any region of the United States in the late 19th century. The term “cracker” derives from the sound created by the popping of a bull whip. Florida crackers carried whips and used them, along ...
Clarence Earl Gideon, Petitioner, vs. Louis L. Wainwright, Director, Department of Corrections, Respondent
In the landmark case of Gideon v. Wainwright, the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed the right of an individual to legal counsel, even in cases not involving capital offenses. Clarence Earl Gideon was convicted of burglary and sentenced to five years imprisonment in a case in which the trial judge had refused his request for counsel. As an inmate, Gideon wrote and filed a lawsuit against the secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections, asking for a writ of habeas corpus on the grounds that he had been denied legal ...
Saint Augustine Map, 1589
This engraved hand-colored map or view-plan by Baptista Boazio depicts Sir Francis Drake's attack on Saint Augustine on May 28-29, 1586. Boazio, an Italian who worked in London from about 1585 to 1603, made maps to illustrate accounts of English expeditions and campaigns. He prepared a series of maps marking Drake's route for Walter Bigges' work on Drake's expedition to the West Indies, first published in 1588 and followed by later editions. This map highlights an episode from Drake's Caribbean expedition, pictorially portraying how the English ...
Florida Constitution of 1838
On December 3, 1838, delegates from across the Territory of Florida gathered in the town of Saint Joseph to draft a constitution in preparation for statehood. Although Saint Joseph was to disappear from the map within a decade, after suffering a devastating hurricane and repeated outbreaks of yellow fever, the work of the constitutional convention survived, resulting in this document. The 1838 constitution established a one-term governor, a bicameral legislature, tight restrictions on banking (a response to the national banking crisis of 1837), and a strict separation of church and ...
Iowa-Florida Act
In December 1838, delegates from the Territory of Florida met in the town of Saint Joseph to adopt a constitution, a necessary step toward becoming a state. It was not until March 3, 1845, however, that both houses of the United States Congress approved “An Act For The Admission of the States of Iowa and Florida Into The Union.” Florida was to be admitted to the union as a slave state and Iowa as a free state, thereby preserving the delicate political balance within the U.S. Senate between free ...
Ordinance of Secession, 1861
This document is a one-page handwritten copy of the Ordinance of Secession passed on January 10, 1861, by the members of the Florida Convention of the People (commonly referred to as the Secession Convention). Pursuant to an act of the Florida legislature approved on November 30, 1860, Governor Madison S. Perry issued a proclamation calling an election on Saturday, December 22, 1860, for delegates to a convention to address the issue of whether Florida had a right to withdraw from the Union. The Secession Convention met in Tallahassee on January ...
Will of Zephaniah Kingsley, 1843
Zephaniah Kingsley was a wealthy planter and slave owner in northeast Florida. His heirs included his wife, a freed slave named Anna M. J. Kingsley, and their children. Kingsley was both a defender of slavery and an activist for the legal rights of free blacks. Born in Bristol, England, in 1765, Kingsley moved to Charleston, South Carolina, then a British colony, in 1770. By the 1790s, Kingsley was active in maritime commerce, including the slave trade. In 1803, he became a citizen of Spanish Florida and began acquiring land in ...
Thousands of Live Alligators on Free Exhibition
This broadside, dating from about 1950, is an advertisement for Osky’s, also known as Osky’s Curio Shop or Osky’s Alligator Store, a Jacksonville mercantile store that sold gift items, rare or bizarre decorative items, and goods made out of alligator skin, including lamps, purses, and wallets. The shop also exhibited live alligators and other reptiles. Jacksonville was home to many of Florida’s earliest tourist attractions, including the Florida Alligator Farm. Operating for several decades on Jacksonville’s historic Bay Street, Osky’s promoted itself through postcards ...
From Flies and Filth to Food and Fever
The Florida Bureau of Health issued this broadside in 1916. It reflects the increasing awareness on the part of health institutions in the early 20th century of the microbial sources of disease, and it illustrates the efforts of state and local health agencies to combat what was seen as a primary cause of disease: unsanitary living conditions. Rendered in a style similar to the wall hangings and kitchen calendars produced for homes by advertisers, the illustrations depict the interaction between pests and food. The broadside reflects the early efforts of ...
Spanish Land Grant Papers of John B. Gaudry
The Spanish Land Grants were claims filed to prove ownership of land after the transfer, in 1821, of the territory of Florida to the United States. Starting in 1790, Spain offered land grants to encourage settlement in the sparsely populated and vulnerable Florida colony. When the United States assumed control of the territory, it agreed to honor any valid land grants. Residents had to prove the validity of their grants through documentation and testimonials in dossiers filed with the U.S. government. Claims either were confirmed (found to be valid ...
Mary McLeod Bethune with a Line of Girls from the School
Mary McLeod Bethune was a pioneering American educator and civil rights leader. Born Mary Jane McLeod on July 10, 1875, in Mayesville, South Carolina, the daughter of former slaves, Bethune won scholarships to attend Scotia Seminary in Concord, North Carolina (now Barber-Scotia College), and the Institute for Home and Foreign Missions in Chicago (now the Moody Bible Institute). In 1904, she moved to Daytona Beach, Florida, to found her own school. Her one-room school house became the Daytona Normal and Industrial School for Negro Girls before merging with Cookman Institute ...
Portrait of Mauma Mollie
Mauma, a Partridge family slave, was transported to South Carolina on a slave ship from Africa. She came to Jefferson County, Florida with John and Eliza Partridge in the 1830s, and was Frances Weston Partridge’s nurse. Henry Edward Partridge recorded in his diary in 1873: “We buried either in 57 or 58 our faithful old ‘Mauma’ Mollie – her who had nursed nearly all of the children of the family; been a friend as well as faithful servant to my Mother; in whose cabin we had often eaten the homely ...
Fort Jefferson Lighthouse
This photograph shows Fort Jefferson Lighthouse, one of 30 historic lighthouses in the state of Florida. The origins of the structure go back to 1825, when a 65-foot (20-meter) tower was completed at Bush Key (now known as Garden Key) in the Dry Tortugas and fitted with a light consisting of 23 lamps in 14-inch (35-centimeter) reflectors. Construction of Fort Jefferson began in 1847. The fort covered the entire island and incorporated the lighthouse in its south wall. In 1856 a taller lighthouse was constructed, and in 1858 the Garden ...
Convicts Leased to Harvest Timber
This early-20th-century photograph shows the harsh working conditions for African-American prisoners caught up in the convict labor system of the state of Florida, which had a notorious reputation for its severe penal labor system. Throughout the American South, African-Americans were far more likely than whites to be incarcerated for minor crimes, and imprisonment and forced labor were tools used by local and state governments to enforce Jim Crow racial restrictions. Agreements between correctional institutions and private corporations such as lumber companies and turpentine manufacturers enabled companies to use convict labor ...
Soldiers Performing Exercises on the Beach
The state of Florida served as the location for a variety of U.S. military training activities during World War II. Pilots and sailors used Florida ports, miles of uninhabited shoreline, and the forests of the state’s interior for military exercises. Marines and Army infantry slogged through Florida marshes and trained for beach assaults. In this image, soldiers training with gas masks are shown on a beach in south Florida. In 1941, Miami was still completely dependent on tourism for its economic livelihood. After the United States entered the ...
Confrontation Between Black Demonstrators and Segregationists at a "White Only" Beach
This photograph documents one episode in the struggle over civil rights that raged throughout the American South in the early 1960s. In the summer of 1964, national civil rights leaders hoped to push for integration of public areas in St. Augustine, Florida, including its bathing beaches. An especially violent confrontation over public access occurred on June 25, when white men attacked blacks on Butler Beach in defiance of the police, who were trying to keep the groups apart. The confrontation drew the attention of national civil rights leaders such as ...
River Steamboat "Okeehumkee" by Landing
The rivers and springs of Florida attracted tourists from the northern states of the United States, and from abroad, after the end of the Civil War. This image, from about 1886, shows the Okeehumkee, one of the Florida steamboats specially designed to navigate narrow, often shallow interior waterways to ferry tourists and merchants to cities and settlements away from the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Vermont-born Hubbard L. Hart (1827–95) was an entrepreneur and developer of travel routes in Georgia and Florida who pioneered a line of Florida steamboats, which ...
Nighttime View of a Space Shuttle Launch from the Kennedy Space Center
This photograph shows a launch of the Space Shuttle, the world’s first reusable spacecraft, from the Kennedy Space Center on the Atlantic coast of Florida. The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) developed the shuttle to lower the costs of travel into space and to support the construction of the International Space Station and other space missions. The first shuttle, the Columbia, lifted off on April 12, 1981. Four other shuttles--Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour–were built over the life of the program. The Challenger and the ...
Walt Disney with Company at Press Conference
Walt Disney (1901–66), the American film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, animator, and entrepreneur, was best known for creating such iconic characters as Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse, for whom Disney himself was the original voice. In the 1930s and 1940s, he produced full-length animated films that included Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Pinocchio (1940), and Bambi (1942). In 1955, Disney opened Disneyland, a theme park located in Anaheim, California that featured many attractions based on Disney film characters. This 1965 photograph shows Disney and his brother ...
Addie Billie
This portrait, taken in January 1989, is of Addie Billie, a member of the Seminole tribe of Florida, in old age. As a younger woman, Billie had campaigned to improve the quality of life of the Mikasuki-Seminoles. Today’s Seminoles are the descendants of Native Americans who may have lived for millennia in the southeastern United States. Seminole culture was firmly established in Florida by the 1800s, but it was also threatened by the newly created United States, which desired the removal of Seminole peoples from the territory. The Seminoles ...
View Showing Oranges Being Harvested in the Groves
This image, taken by Charles “Chuck” Barron, a Tallahassee-based photographer, in the mid-20th century, shows a crop of oranges in a mature orange grove being harvested by hand. Barron worked both as a freelance photographer and as an employee of the state of Florida. Citrus trees and shrubs are native to East Asia, but were introduced into Florida by the Spanish in the late 16th century. By the time the United States acquired Florida in 1821, extensive groves of wild orange trees could be found in various parts of the ...
Portrait of Author Ernest Hemingway Posing with Sailfish
Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961) was an American writer who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954. He was born in Oak Park, Illinois, and began his writing career as a newspaperman in Kansas City at the age of 17. His experiences in Europe informed his early novels. Hemingway served with a volunteer ambulance unit in the Alps in World War I, lived in Paris for much of the 1920s, and reported on the Greek Revolution and the civil war in Spain. His sense of these events resulted in The ...
All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Player Marg Callaghan Sliding into Home Plate as Umpire Norris Ward Watches
Many minor baseball league teams had disbanded by late 1942, because of young men of military age being drafted to serve in World War II. The All-American Girls Baseball League was founded as a nonprofit association in 1943 by a group of powerful financial figures in professional baseball, concerned that baseball parks across the United States might collapse. They included the owner of Wrigley Field in Chicago, businessman Phillip K. Wrigley; Brooklyn Dodgers president and general manager Branch Rickey; and Paul V. Harper, a Chicago attorney who was a trustee ...
Women Getting their Hair Done at the Chez Marie Beauty Shop
This image shows women getting their hair done at a beauty salon in Miami, Florida in 1939, near the end of the Great Depression in the United States and on the eve of the outbreak of World War II. Women’s hairstyles were becoming longer and fuller as permanent waves (perms) became popular and more widely available. The modernist furniture and the use of technology to deliver a standard service were trends of the times. The photograph was taken by William Arthur Fishbaugh, who as a young man traveled widely ...
Midwinter Crowd at Miami Beach
Winter tourism became a major factor in the development of Miami and south Florida from the 1920s onward. Development, particularly of hotels, grew apace, with the increasing popularity of this tourism and retirement haven, and much helped by the spread of commercial aviation. By 1940 Miami had about two million vacationers a year. President Harry S Truman was there for the dedication of the Everglades National Park in 1947. Some of the new hotels, such as the 1948 Sherry Frontenac, had fine Art Deco details. This photograph, taken on December ...
Two Women on Water Skis Wearing Tutus and White Gloves
Dick and Julie Pope founded Cypress Gardens in 1936, one of the many roadside attractions that began to line the highways of Florida and other U.S. states in the 1920s. Located between Orlando and Tampa in Winter Haven, the lush botanical gardens attracted tourists driving south through central Florida on U.S. Highway 27, known as the Orange Blossom Trail. During the early 1940s, Pope hired women to walk around the park wearing antebellum-style dresses. He introduced water-skiing shows during World War II to entertain soldiers who visited the ...
Seminole Josie Billie with Family and Dog
This photograph, taken in the Big Cypress Swamp in Florida near Deep Lake in April 1921, depicts Josie Billie and his family. Born on December 12, 1887, Billie was the son of the first Indian to receive a formal education in Florida. A Seminole medicine man and long-time public spokesman for the Florida Seminoles, Billie was also a Baptist minister. He was a frequent participant in the Florida Folk Festival and lived on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation in Hendry County until his death in 1980. The image is ...
Billboard for the Sale of Subdivision Real Estate Lots
The draining of swamp lands, continued penetration of rail lines, and expansion of highways all paved the way for the Great Florida Land Boom of the mid-1920s. This image, taken a few years before the speculative rush reached its peak, shows the promotion of Florida as both a paradise for residents and a cash engine for potential investors. Cities such as Miami and St. Petersburg grew tenfold in population in less than two decades as the amount of money being invested in home construction and hotel development began to soar ...