Guide to African American Resources in the State Library and Archives of Florida

Cover of Women's History Guide


This resource guide is intended to present an overview of the resources that are available for the study of African American history in the State Archives of Florida. It is an update of the material presented in the 1988 (revised 2002) publication The Black Experience: A Guide to African American Resources in the State Library and Archives of Florida. This revised guide includes recent acquisitions in addition to older resources which remain important. We hope that this publication will benefit historians, genealogists, students, and other researchers by making those records in the Archives relating to African Americans better known, more accessible, and easier to use.

A vast array of sources documents the black experience in Florida. This publication describes available sources from state and local government records, manuscripts (non-government records and papers), the Florida Photographic Collection, films and videos, and the State Archives holdings of selected National Archives Microfilm Publications. It also describes sources found in the Florida Collection of the State Library of Florida and lists sources in several other repositories. Additional information about the State Archives of Florida's holdings is available via the Archives' online catalog.

Among the Archives' state government holdings, the governors' administrative correspondence represents a rich source of documentation. Files relating to topics such as slaves, slavery, freedmen, the civil rights movement, segregation and desegregation, lynching, busing, black education, Florida A&M University, affirmative action, riots, and the Legislative Black Caucus are among the myriad subjects related to black history found in the governors' records. Similar topics can also be found throughout the Archives' state government records collection.

Included in the manuscript collection are slave books, bills of sale for slaves, church membership rosters, baptism records, marriage records, the Black Teachers Association records, and the papers of Leona Cooper, Eunice Liberty, and Judge Joseph Lee, a prominent black Republican during Reconstruction and in subsequent years.

Photographs are abundant. Hundreds of images show African Americans in everyday settings, serving in state government capacities, and working in various agricultural industries. The Federal Emergency Relief Administration's Photo Album contains a wealth of photographs depicting black life in Florida, including a number of photographs depicting black adult education, black school nurseries, and African Americans working on road construction and in mattress factories. The collection also include photographs by photographers such as Richard Twine and Alvan S. Harper. Most of the images, which number in the thousands, can be viewed via the online Florida Photographic Collection.

A welcome supplement to this online version of the guide is the film and video collection containing footage of personalities such as Jake Gaither and civil rights activist Reverend C.K. Steele, and of topics such as Florida A&M University, a black funeral, civil disturbances, and sports events. Other additions include links to the full descriptions from the Archives online catalog for all the collection listed here, as well as an expanded list of other repositories and relevant publications.

Other African American-related resources at the State Archives can be found on the Florida Memory Project Web site. Black History Month At the State Archives of Florida lists many of these resources. These include several educational units from the Online Classroom and photographic exhibits found on the Florida Photographic Collection section of the Florida Memory Project. Finally, we have extensive Florida Folklife Collection page, with a searchable online catalog to descriptions of all of the collection’s images and audio recordings as well as numerous downloadable audio and visual files. The Florida Folklife Collection is a rich collection of folklife records documenting the ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity reflected in the communities of our state.

In addition to the collection of the State Archives, the sources found in the Florida Collection of the State Library of Florida are also listed. These include a biography file, containing newspaper clippings and articles on prominent African Americans, a card file on legislators, black newspapers, the Gavin Papers (a collection relating to a black family in Wakulla County), a microfilmed copy of the Mary McLeod Bethune Papers, and an amalgam of published sources.

Other Sources:

While the titles listed in this volume represent the State Archives' richest sources of documentation on black history in Florida, the Archives holds many additional collection not listed here which the enterprising researcher could find useful for black history research.

Records Descriptions:

The following information is provided for each collection described in this guide:

  • The creator or creating agency
  • Series or collection title
  • Inclusive dates of the records (semicolons denote gaps in date spans, approximate dates are noted by c., and undetermined dates by N.D.)
  • Volume
  • Series or collection number:
  • S=State government records
  • L=Local government records
  • M=Manuscripts
  • Restrictions (when applicable)
  • Series or collection description (may include history, form of material, subjects)
  • Reproduction note (if available in a form other than the original and not otherwise noted)
  • Language note (if other than English)

For example:

Professional Practices Commission.
Official Minutes, 1964-1980,.75 cubic foot
S 1037
Restricted by Florida Statutes Chapter 987.6543.

The Commission was established in 1963 (Ch. 63-363, Laws) to develop criteria for the teaching profession in the areas of ethical and professional performance, and to recommend actions in cases of violation of those standards. In 1969, the Commission became a Council and part of the Department (Ch. 69-106, Laws). The Council was dissolved in 1980 (Ch. 80-190, Laws). The series contains the minutes of the Commission and Executive Committee meetings.

Reproduction Note: Also available on microfilm.
Language Note: Some documents in Spanish.