A Guide to Civil War Records
The purpose of this guide is to identify and describe the state, federal, and private records pertaining to Florida’s Civil War era (1860-1865) housed at the State Archives of Florida. We hope this guide will assist and promote research into this time period.
About the State Archives of Florida
The State Archives of Florida is the official repository for the public records of the State of Florida. The Archives is mandated by law to collect, preserve, and make available for research the historically significant records of the State, as well as private manuscripts, local government records, photographs, and other materials that complement the official State records.
There was no official State Archives before 1967. Following the United States' acquisition of Florida in 1821, the Territorial Legislative Council created the office of Keeper of the Public Archives; however, that position was abolished in 1848. Starting in 1925, the Florida State Library assumed archival functions within the state. Dr. Dorothy Dodd served as the first State Archivist and helped to preserve many early Florida records from destruction. Then in 1967, the Archives and History Act officially established the Florida State Archives. Originally located in the Old Leon County Jail, the State Archives moved to its current location, the R.A. Gray Building, in 1976. Today, the State Archives program is operated within the Division of Libraries and Information Services, under the Department of State.
Access to Records
Records at the State Archives are available to patrons in accordance with the laws of Florida and the operating rules of the Archives. All public records are open for use except for those specifically restricted by law or rule. You may obtain copies of the laws and rules regulating the Archives and access to the records of Florida government from the reference desk. Some personal papers or manuscript materials donated to the Archives may be subject to special conditions or restrictions imposed by the donor(s).
How to Use this Guide
The following guide is divided into three sections. The first section provides a short history of Florida's role in the Civil War. The second part is a listing of all the government records by record group.
A record group is the entire collection of a particular creating body, usually grouped at the division or departmental level, e.g. Governor’s office or Florida Military Department. Sometimes, however, the record group is simply the custodian of the records at the time of their transmittal to the State Archives. Listed below the record group are the various series and their descriptions. A series is one collection of records created by an agency for a particular function or purpose. This is the level at which collections are pulled. Therefore, the series number (denoted with either S or a M, followed by the number, e.g. “S 1210”, “M76-131”) also serves as the call number. For more detailed information on a specific collection, click on the series number to go directly to the full description found in the State Archives of Florida online catalog.
The third section is a listing and description of the various manuscript collections. These are collections created by private citizens and non-governmental organizations, such as the Daughters of the Confederacy.
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.)
- 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)
Finally, there are three appendices. The first is a listing of Florida-related Civil War records located in other repositories across the state and nation. The second is a comprehensive listing of articles, books, dissertations, and other writings on the Civil War in Florida, as well as a listing of related web resources. The last appendix is a series of links of Civil War museums and historic sites in Florida.
If you have any questions, you can contact the State Archives of Florida by email, or call at (850) 245-6700. Reference staff is also available onsite to answer any questions or concerns in person. For researchers, it is a good idea to contact the Archives ahead of time to ensure the best possible experience. Also, check the Archives' website for a listing of rules and regulations.