WPA County Histories

About These Documents

Escambia County Okaloosa County Walton County Holmes County Bay County Jackson County Calhoun County Liberty County Gulf County Gadsden County Franklin County Leon County Wakulla County Jefferson County Taylor County Madison County Lafayette County Suwannee County Hamilton County Columbia County Baker County Nassau County Duval County Union County Bradford County Clay County Putnam County Alachua County Gilchrist County Dixie County Levy County Marion County Flagler County Volusia County Seminole County Lake County Orange County Sumter County Citrus County Hernando County Pinellas County Hillsborough County Polk County Osceola County Brevard County Indian River County St. Lucie County Martin County Okeechobee County Highlands County Hardee County Manatee County Sarasota County DeSoto County Charlotte County Glades County Lee County Hendry County Palm Beach County Collier County Broward County Monroe County Monroe County Dade County No Histories for Santa Rosa County No Histories for Washington County No Histories for St. Johns County No Histories for Pasco County
WPA Florida County Map, 1936
Also see list of counties

This collection contains brief county histories and related notes collected or written during the Great Depression by agents of the Works Progress Administration’s Historical Records Survey. The manuscripts are in varying stages of completion and often focus on specific details relating to each county’s formation, courthouses, boundaries, early settlers and so on. The histories were designed to provide context for the WPA’s Inventory of the County Archives of Florida, a county-by-county survey of local governmental documents available in courthouses around the state. The idea was to create a useful guide to these records while providing employment to historians, lawyers, teachers and other professionals whose jobs had fallen victim to the economic downturn of the 1930s.

Field workers began surveying county courthouses for the project in 1935, noting the various kinds of records available and the scope and extent of each collection. They were also tasked with preparing a short historical introduction for each survey. Each county survey was to be published in its own volume. The first volume was released in February 1938, but only 12 volumes appear to have ever been completed. Both the published volumes of the Inventory of the County Archives of Florida and the manuscript histories for those volumes never published are held by the State Library of Florida and included in this collection. The manuscript histories presumably would have been edited and published as other county volumes.

These documents are valuable reference guides for researching the history of particular Florida counties. The manuscripts are in many cases meticulously researched and footnoted and include information obtained from older citizens and records that would be difficult – if not impossible – to reproduce. Furthermore, the field workers emphasized specific dates in their writing, which makes these documents particularly helpful for tracing events in a county’s history, such as when a courthouse was constructed or when a major boundary change occurred.