Twine Photographic Collection

In commemoration of Black History Month, this series of blog posts highlights African-American history in Florida.

Richard Aloysius Twine (1896-1974) photographed the African-American community of Lincolnville, just south of St. Augustine, in the 1920s.

Richard A. Twine, ca. 1925

Richard A. Twine, ca. 1925

Twine, born in St. Augustine on May 11, 1896, had a brief but notable career as a professional photographer in Lincolnville. Founded by freed slaves after the Civil War, Lincolnville’s homes and businesses formed the center of St. Augustine’s black community in the early 20th century.

Emancipation Day Parade, ca. 1925

Emancipation Day Parade, ca. 1925

The Twine home on Kings Ferry Way was damaged by fire and about to be torn down in 1988 when, fortuitously, the demolition crew discovered 103 glass-plate negatives in the attic. The negatives were restored and placed in the custody of the St. Augustine Historical Society. A partnership in the 1990s allowed the Archives to copy Twine’s negatives, and later, make them available on the Florida Memory website.

Demps family outside their home, ca. 1925

Demps family outside their home, ca. 1925

Lincolnville residents played a critical role in the local Civil Rights Movement, particularly as foot soldiers in the sit-ins, wade-ins, and other demonstrations held in the early 1960s. Today, the remaining historic buildings in Lincolnville are part of the Lincolnville Historic District.

Knights of St. Johns, ca. 1925

Knights of St. Johns, ca. 1925

Resources for Black History Month

Looking for Black History Month resources? Find them on Florida Memory.

African American history in Florida dates back to the first explorers of the early 16th century. Our Black History Month resources page provides links to resources for students and teachers, or anyone who wants to learn more about the prominent role of African Americans in Florida history.

Mary McLeod Bethune, Daytona Beach, ca. 1904

Mary McLeod Bethune, Daytona Beach, ca. 1904

Civil Rights Exhibit at the State Archives

Stop by the lobby of the R.A. Gray Building (500 South Bronough Street) in Tallahassee during the month of February to see our photographic exhibit: “Images of the Civil Rights Movement in Tallahassee, 1956-1963.”

Presented in recognition of Black History Month, and in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, the images featured in the exhibit honor only a few of the many events and individuals critical to the Civil Rights Movement in Tallahassee.

Sit-In at Woolworth’s lunch counter (February 13, 1960)

Sit-In at Woolworth’s lunch counter (February 13, 1960)

The above photograph shows the first of several sit-ins held at department stores in downtown Tallahassee. Seated and wearing dark glasses is prominent activist and local Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) organizer Patricia Stephens (later Due).

Patricia Stephens (later Due) being arrested by Tallahassee Police (May 30, 1963)

Patricia Stephens (later Due) being arrested by Tallahassee Police (May 30, 1963)

The above photograph was taken on the day Tallahassee Police arrested 260 FAMU students for protesting in front of the segregated Florida Theater.

Alvan S. Harper Photographic Collection

In commemoration of Black History Month, this series of blog posts highlights African American history in Florida.

Nellie Franklin, ca. 1900

Nellie Franklin, ca. 1900

Photographer Alvan S. Harper captured scenes of middle class African Americans in Tallahassee from the 1880s to the 1910s. Portraits such as those taken by Harper provide a small window into Tallahassee’s black community during the indignity of the Jim Crow era.

Many of the photographs in the collection remain unidentified, including two featured in this post. If you have any additional information about images in the Harper Collection, please contact the State Archives of Florida:

Woman wearing dress with roses on bodice and holding a fan, Tallahassee, ca. 1900

Some of Harper’s best negatives were lost when his studio was torn down in the 1920s. The negatives had been given to a Tallahassee historian who, because they were dirty, left them on a porch where they were mistaken for trash and taken to the dump.

Man in striped tie and pants, holding newspaper, Tallahassee, ca. 1900

About 2,000 more Harper negatives were found in 1946 in the attic of the house he had owned. A Tallahassee photographer printed 250 negatives and circulated the prints in the community for identification. The negatives were turned over to the State Library, and later transferred to the Florida Photographic Collection after it was founded in 1952.

Contact the Museum of Florida History for more information about the Alvan S. Harper traveling exhibit, part of the museum’s TREX Program.

Bok Tower Celebrates 85 Years

On February 1 & 2, 2014, Bok Tower Gardens will celebrate its 85th anniversary.

Tower among the pines, 1948

Tower among the pines, 1948

Head to Lake Wales this weekend, stroll through the gardens, visit the historic Pinewood Estate, and listen to the iconic Carillon bells.

Busy day at Bok Tower Gardens, ca. 1935

Busy day at Bok Tower Gardens, ca. 1935

Bok Tower Gardens was the dream of Dutch immigrant Edward W. Bok, a winter resident of the Mountain Lake community near Lake Wales. The natural beauty of the setting inspired him to build the tower, the gardens, and a Mediterranean-revival mansion originally named “El Retiro,” meaning retreat in Spanish. The gardens, designed by famed landscape architect Frederic Law Olmstead, sit nearly 300 feet above sea level atop Iron Mountain, one of the highest points along the Lakes Wales Ridge. Bok Tower Gardens was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

Infrared photograph taken by the Florida Department of Commerce, July 1949

Infrared photograph taken by the Florida Department of Commerce, July 1949

Since opening in 1929, Bok Tower Gardens has hosted millions of visitors. Learn more about the activities planned at the site for Founder’s Day.

What Rhymes With Gigantic?

At the State Archives, one of our favorite genres of music can be best described as Florida Cheese, the sometimes catchy, sometimes grating, always brain infesting jingles used to promote the state over the years.

This song, titled “Florida Belongs to You,” was created by the Florida Development Commission during the Askew administration (1971-1979) and captures the essence of Florida Cheese.

Florida Belongs to You

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Take a ride, see the sights
Have your fun, in the sun
See the old, see the new
For Florida belongs to you

Plan a trip and do it soon
Here today, tomorrow the moon
Take the kids, have a ball
For Florida’s the greatest of them all

From the Gulf, to the Atlantic, and the Keys just beyond
It’s beautiful and so gigantic and you can dream you’re Ponce de Leon

Tell the world, sing it loud
It’s your state, say you’re proud
More to see, lots to do
For Florida belongs to you”

Martin Luther King and St. Augustine, 1964

People in the United States and around the world celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

King played a prominent role in organizing the Civil Rights Movement in the South. His most important contributions to the struggle in Florida occurred in St. Augustine in the summer of 1964.

On June 11, 1964, Dr. King and several other activists were arrested for attempting to integrate the Monson Motor Lodge. When interviewed during his brief incarceration, King pledged to challenge segregation in St. Augustine “even if it takes all summer.”

Martin Luther King in St. Augustine, X, 1964

Martin Luther King in St. Augustine, June 12, 1964

Dan R. Warren, State Attorney for the Seventh Judicial Circuit, convened a Grand Jury to hear King’s perspective on the situation in the Ancient City. The photograph above shows Dr. King in the backseat of a highway patrol car with a police dog moments after he testified before the Grand Jury about segregation in St. Augustine, a city he referred to as the “most segregated” in America.

Quotes attributed to King appear in Dan R. Warren, If It Takes All Summer: Martin Luther King, the KKK, and States’ Rights in St. Augustine, 1964 (University of Alabama, 2008), 95.

Gangster in the Neighborhood

Al “Scarface” Capone was born on January 17, 1899. Both before and after he served hard time for tax evasion, the Chicago gangster resided in an estate on Palm Island in Biscayne Bay.

J. Fritz Gordon, Al Capone, and Julio Morales in Havana, Cuba, 1930

J. Fritz Gordon, Al Capone, and Julio Morales in Havana, Cuba, 1930

Capone first took up residence in Miami Beach in 1928, when he purchased an estate on Palm Island for $20,000. Ostensibly acquired as a winter health retreat, the gangster invested between $40,000 and $70,000 into the home. Palm Island residents, and the city of Miami Beach in general, opposed the presence of the mobster in their midst and wrote numerous letters to the governor of Florida pleading for Capone’s ouster from the state.

Aerial view of the Capone compound on Palm Island, 1930

Aerial view of the Capone compound on Palm Island, 1930

The letter below is one such citizen complaint regarding Capone living on Palm Island (click on thumbnails for a larger image). The letter was sent to Governor Doyle Carlton by Clarence M. Busch in March 1929. Busch lived immediately across the street from Capone and, like other property owners on Palm Island, wanted the gangster booted from the neighborhood.



Governor Carlton shared Busch’s dislike for Capone. Beginning in March 1930, Carlton, who ran for office on an anti-gambling platform, undertook an effort to ban the gangster from the state. Capone and his legal team avoided banishment from Florida, but the mobster faced near constant harassment from Miami Beach police. He was arrested several times on various charges and the local city council even pursued special resolutions aimed at limiting his tenure in the area.

Palm Island residents expressed a sigh of relief in 1931 when Capone was indicted on federal tax evasion charges. The gangster served several years behind bars on Alcatraz Island before returning to Florida in 1939. He lived the remainder of his days on Palm Island, and died in 1947.

To learn more about Al Capone and his legal troubles in Dade County, see William G. Crawford Jr., “Judge Vincent Giblin: The Life and Times of a South Florida Attorney and Judge,” Tequesta 70 (2010): 59-119.

Secession (January 10, 1861)

On January 10, 1861, Florida seceded from the Union.

In the wake of Abraham Lincoln’s election to the presidency on November 6, 1860, Governor Madison Starke Perry called for Florida to prepare for secession and to join with other southern states in organizing an independent confederacy.

The state legislature voted to hold a statewide election on December 22 for the selection of delegates to a convention that would meet in Tallahassee beginning on January 3, 1861, to decide whether Florida should secede. Of the sixty-nine delegates eligible to vote on January 10, 1861 for the adoption of an ordinance of secession, sixty-two voted yea and seven nay.

Florida Ordinance of Secession, signed January 10, 1861

Florida Ordinance of Secession, signed January 10, 1861

The State Archives of Florida holds the only known copy of the Florida Ordinance of Secession.

New on Florida Memory: The Patriot Constitution of 1812

In March 1812, a group of Georgia settlers known as the Patriot Army, with de facto support from the United States government, invaded Spanish East Florida. The Patriots hoped to convince the inhabitants of the province to join their cause and proclaim independence from Spain. Once independence was achieved, the Patriots planned to transfer control of the territory to the United States.

The Patriots seized Fernandina without firing a shot, but could not convince the government at St. Augustine to surrender. By July 1812, the “invasion” had reached a stalemate, with the Patriots encamped at Fort Mose, and the Spanish government firmly in control of St. Augustine and Castillo de San Marcos. Over the ensuing several months, the Patriots fought a series of skirmishes against the Spanish and their Seminole and black allies. The most significant fighting took place when the Patriots attempted to penetrate the strongholds of the Seminoles and their African-American allies near the Alachua Prairie.

page one of the Patriot Constitution of 1812

The Patriots eventually lost their tenuous support from the U.S. government and abandoned the Florida project in early 1813. During their time in control of Fernandina, the Patriots formed a temporary government and drafted a constitution to govern their territory. That document is transcribed and available on the Florida Memory website, along with other miscellaneous items related to the short-lived Republic of East Florida.

The original Patriot Constitution and associated documents reside in the collections of the Florida Historical Society (FHS) in Cocoa. The FHS lent the original documents to the State Archives in 2013 for digitization.