March 18, 2013, marks the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision Gideon v. Wainwright. The decision confirmed the right of the individual to counsel, even in cases not involving capital offenses. U.S. Attorney General and Senator Robert Kennedy described the case as having changed the course of American legal history.
Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus submitted by Clarence Earl Gideon
The case began when an obscure inmate in a Florida prison, Clarence Earl Gideon, picked up a pencil and began writing his own lawsuit against the Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections. Before the case was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, however, the Florida Supreme Court heard the appeal of the original conviction. Clarence Earl Gideon was convicted of robbery after the judge in a circuit court refused his request for counsel and he was forced to defend himself. He was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison. The Florida Supreme Court confirmed the circuit court ruling, denying Gideon’s appeal for a writ of habeas corpus, which would have freed him on the grounds that he had been imprisoned illegally.
In 1963, the Supreme Court unanimously overturned the ruling of the Florida court, thereby establishing the principle that state courts were required to provide defendants in criminal cases with legal counsel. The case was retried (this time with representation for Gideon) five months after the Supreme Court decision. Gideon was acquitted.
View Gideon’s historic petition for writ of habeas corpus on Florida Memory.
Florida State Prison mug shots of Clarence Earl Gideon: Raiford, Florida (1961)
Portrait of Clarence Earl Gideon (1961?)
A. Philip Randolph, the first president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, was born in Crescent City, Florida, and grew up in Jacksonville. The son of a Methodist minister, he attended the City College of New York, and later published The Messenger, a radical black magazine.
The 1937 contract between the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and the Pullman Company cut working hours, increased pay, and improved working conditions.
Randolph was also a major influence in ending discrimination in defense plants and segregation of the U.S. military. He was director of the August 28, 1963 March on Washington, D.C. — the largest civil rights demonstration in American history.
Group portrait of members attending the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters convention in Washington, D.C.
The membership of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters included the African-American porters and maids who worked on the railway trains. Randolph, Benjamin McLaurin, and Julius and Eliza Rosier Glass were natives of Jacksonville. Julius was a fireman on the Florida East Coast Line.
Portrait of A. Philip Randolph
Eartha M.M. White tells this true life ghost story based on an incident from before the Civil War. The story was told to Eartha White by her mother, Clara White, who was raised in slavery on Amelia Island in Fernandina, Florida.
More Info: Catalog Record
Eartha M. M. White was a humanitarian, businesswoman and philanthropist from Jacksonville. She created educational opportunities and provided relief to African-Americans in northeastern Florida. White helped found several organizations and institutions, including the Clara White Mission, Mercy Hospital and the Boy’s Improvement Club. She was designated as a Great Floridian by the Florida Department of State in the year 2000.
Eartha M.M. White and her mother Clara White: Jacksonville, Florida (ca. 1910)
This recording was made in January 1940 as part of the Federal Writers Project. The voice introducing the story is that of Robert Cook. Cook also traveled with Zora Neale Hurston to gather folklife recordings and photographs across the state.
In Florida, the Federal Writers Project was based out of Jacksonville, and directed by historian Carita Doggett Corse. Seven recording expeditions were conducted in the 1930s and ’40s in Florida by Alan Lomax, Zora Neale Hurston, Stetson Kennedy, Robert Cook, and others.
The field recordings were made on acetate disks, usually recorded at 78 rpm. The originals are still housed with the Library of Congress.
Happy Valentine’s Day! To celebrate, we present these images of ’80s rock band, In the Pink. Where were you in 1985?
Derby, beret, ten gallon, baseball, sombrero, cowboy, fascinator or fez; what’s your hat? A few of our favorites…
Want to see more hats?
The daguerreotype was the earliest practical photographic process, but exposure times could be as long as a half-hour. Head clamps held the subject in place so they didn’t wiggle. A later photographic process allowed for fast exposure, but was blue! Another was prone to spontaneous combustion. Archives Supervisor Jody Norman will talk about the history of the photographic process, from the dangers and limitations of early methods to the advent of digital photography.
If you are interested in the history of the photographic process, register for this free webinar, and join us from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. EST on January 17, 2013!
Card playing during Japanese New Year’s celebration in Delray Beach, Florida
This image comes from the Florida Folklife Collection. Did you find another great image of Floridians celebrating the New Year? Share with us in the comments!
“Mac” Malcolm Daniel McCoy seated on a speed limit sign: Tallahassee, Florida
Gator Xing road sign in Lee County, Florida (1994)
The peaceful solitude of Sanibel Island is ideal for a honeymoon. Follow the adventures of honeymooners Lyn and Jim Agramonte, as photographed by the Florida Department of Commerce in January 1957.
Picnic on the beach
Visit to an abandoned house
Jim, who was born in London, shows Lyn the art of exploring abandoned seaman’s homes – he explored abandoned houses in England when a boy.
Visit to the Sanibel Island Lighthouse
Bidding farewell to Sanibel Island