Creature from the Black Lagoon Released (March 5, 1954)

On March 5, 1954, Universal International Pictures released Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Still from Creature from the Black Lagoon, Wakulla Springs, ca. 1953

The creature emerges from Wakulla Springs, ca. 1953

The film’s plot centered around an Amazonian expedition gone awry when a scientific team encountered the mysterious “Gill Man.” The creature became enamored with a member of the team, played by Julie Adams, and kidnapped her after escaping from the scientists’ grasp.

Film crew at Wakulla Springs, October 18, 1953

Film crew with 3-D camera at Wakulla Springs, October 18, 1953

The filmmakers visited Wakulla Springs, south of Tallahassee, while scouting locations for the film. They were introduced to a young FSU student and part-time lifeguard at the springs named Ricou Browning. Director Jack Arnold eventually cast Browning to play the part of the creature during underwater scenes. Browning parlayed this experience into a subsequent career in film and television.

Ricou Browning becoming the Creature, Wakulla Springs, ca. 1953

Ricou Browning becoming the creature, Wakulla Springs, ca. 1953

The filmmakers used Florida’s natural beauty again as a backdrop while filming the sequel, Revenge of the Creature (1955). Revenge featured footage shot at Silver Springs, Marineland, and along the St. Johns River. Scenes from the third and final installment in the series, The Creature Walks Among Us (1956), were also filmed in the Sunshine State.

Ginger Stanley in the grip of the creature, Silver Springs, ca. 1955

Ginger Stanley in the grip of the creature, Silver Springs, ca. 1955

Tallahassee Established as Territorial Capital (March 4, 1824)

On March 4, 1824, Governor William P. Duval designated Tallahassee as the capital of the Florida territory.

"View of the City of Tallahassee," by Norris, Wellge & Company (1885)

“View of the City of Tallahassee,” by Norris, Wellge & Company (1885)

The map above, published by Norris, Wellge & Company in 1885, provides a bird’s eye view of the city fifty years after its designation as capital of the Florida territory. According to a census taken in 1825, 996 peopled lived in Leon County. The city’s population at that time probably did not exceed 200.

By 1890, Leon County’s population reached nearly 18,000, while the city limits contained about 2,200 residents. Like many other communities in the late 19th century South, the majority of Tallahassee’s population lived in the rural areas surrounding the city.

Today, the City of Tallahassee is home to almost 182,000 people, with a metropolitan area population of about 375,000.

Tallahassee CORE Flier (July 1963)

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

The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) formed in 1942 with the purpose of challenging segregation laws in the United States through non-violent protest and civil disobedience.

CORE played a central role in several of the largest peaceful integration campaigns during the Civil Rights Movement, including Freedom Rides from the 1940s to the 1960s, the March on Washington in August 1963, the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964, and numerous sit-in demonstrations throughout the United States in the 1960s.

CORE leadership in Tallahassee created this flier in July 1963 (click thumbnails below for larger images). It summarizes the accomplishments of the movement in Tallahassee and the ongoing efforts by activists to defeat segregation in Florida’s capital city.

Tallahassee CORE pamphlet page 1

Reproduced in the flier is a telegram written by local CORE chairperson Patricia Stephens Due to President John F. Kennedy. Due asked the president to stop federal grants from funding St. Augustine’s 400th anniversary celebration.

Due wrote that government support for these events would amount to a “celebration of 400 years of slavery and segregation.” Other prominent civil rights leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., raised similar concerns that the celebrations planned for St. Augustine in 1964 would marginalize the African-American role in Florida’s colonial history.

Tallahassee CORE pamphlet page 2

Two months before this flier appeared, over 200 student demonstrators, mostly from Florida A&M University, were arrested for picketing in front of segregated theaters in downtown Tallahassee. The flier also notes the latest campaign against pool segregation, and that Priscilla Stephens, sister of Patricia Stephens Due, had been arrested for attempting to integrate a city pool.

The Stephens sisters organized the first Tallahassee chapter of CORE in 1959. Throughout the early 1960s they played a prominent role as organizers, participants, and spokespeople for the movement.

Tallahassee CORE pamphlet page 3

Tallahassee CORE pamphlet page 4

To learn more see, Tananarive Due and Patricia Stephens Due, Freedom in the Family: A Mother-Daughter Memoir of the Fight for Civil Rights (New York: Ballatine, 2003) and Glenda Alice Rabby, The Pain and the Promise: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Tallahassee, Florida (Athens: University of Georgia, 1999).

FAMU Hospital

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

Emancipation, and the period of Reconstruction that followed, brought civil rights to freed slaves throughout the former Confederacy for the first time. Black communities organized and built churches, schools, hospitals, businesses, and civic organizations. These institutions developed separately from their white counterparts during the era of legal segregation known as Jim Crow.

The legal gains of the 1860s and 1870s proved short-lived, and full equality remained only a dream until the triumphs of the modern Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s.

Dr. R.L. Anderson and nurse Lillie Mae Chavis with a patient, 1953

Dr. R.L. Anderson and nurse Lillie Mae Chavis with a patient

The Florida A&M University Hospital symbolized efforts by the black community to provide for its own health and wellness during segregation. Officially dedicated as a hospital on February 7, 1951, the institution first opened as a sanitarium in 1911. Before integration led to its closure in 1971, FAMU Hospital served as the only facility of its kind for African-Americans within 150 miles of Tallahassee.

Nurse Grace Kyler working with polio patients, 1953

Nurse Grace Kyler working with polio patients

Teacher Christine Jenkins with patients, 1953

Teacher Christine Jenkins with patients

The photographs featured in this blog post show scenes from FAMU Hospital in September 1953. These images are part of the Tallahassee Democrat Photographic Collection, which is currently in the process of digitization.

Want to learn more? This Friday, February 28, 2014, Florida A&M University and the Florida Division of Historical Resources will unveil a historic marker commemorating FAMU Hospital. The ceremony begins at 10 AM at the intersection of Palmer Avenue and Adams Street on the campus of Florida A&M University.

Nurse Idelle Anderson using an autoclave, 1953

Idelle Anderson operating an autoclave

Nurse station, 1953

Nurse’s station

Historic Photograph Identification Day (February 18, 2014)

On Tuesday, February 18, the State Archives of Florida, in partnership with the John G. Riley House and Museum, will hold a historic photograph identification day in room 307 of the R.A. Gray Building (500 South Bronough Street, Tallahassee, 32399). This event is free and open to the public, and will run from 9 AM to 4 PM.

Unidentified cigarette girls, Tallahassee, 1956

Unidentified cigarette girls, Tallahassee, 1956

Unidentified civil rights demonstrators, Tallahassee, 1962

Unidentified civil rights demonstrators, Tallahassee, 1962

Visitors will be able to review a slideshow of images selected from the recently digitized Tallahassee Democrat photographic collection, focusing on unidentified scenes of African-American life in Tallahassee in the 1950s and 1960s. Unidentified images from other photographic collections will also be included in the slideshow program.

Unidentified gardener, Tallahassee, 1940s

Unidentified gardener, Tallahassee, 1940s

Unidentified 3-year-old on his birthday, Tallahassee, 1959

Unidentified 3-year-old on his birthday, Tallahassee, 1959

The images selected depict a variety of scenes in Tallahassee and the surrounding area, from civil rights demonstrations to school dances, businesses, civic and religious organizations, and Florida A&M University students and functions. Archives staff will be on hand to record identification information from attendees on the people, places, and events shown in the photographs.

Unidentified couple on their wedding day, Tallahassee, 1954

Unidentified couple on their wedding day, Tallahassee, 1954

Unidentified Boy Scouts at Camp Semialachee, Leon County, 1957

Unidentified Boy Scouts at Camp Semialachee, Leon County, 1957

First Tallahassee Sit-In (February 13, 1960)

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

On February 13, 1960, Patricia Stephens (later Due), and other local CORE members held the first of several sit-ins at department store lunch counters in downtown Tallahassee.

First Tallahassee civil rights sit-in, February 13, 1960

First Tallahassee civil rights sit-in, February 13, 1960

On February 20, students from Florida A&M University (FAMU) and Florida State University (FSU) held another, larger sit-in at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in downtown Tallahassee. When they refused to leave, 11 were arrested and charged with “disturbing the peace by engaging in riotous conduct and assembly to the disturbance of the public tranquility.” Several of the students chose “jail over bail” and remained in police custody while their story circulated around the country and garnered additional support for the movement.

In the months and years that followed, additional demonstrations and picketing took place at downtown stores and theaters in Tallahassee and elsewhere in Florida. The participants in these events were the “Foot Soldiers for Change” who worked tirelessly to defeat segregation in the United States.

To learn more, see Glenda Alice Rabby, The Pain and the Promise: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Tallahassee, Florida (University of Georgia Press, 1999).

Mary McLeod Bethune Learning Unit

Check out our online learning unit to learn more about educator and civil rights pioneer Mary McLeod Bethune. The unit explores the life and legacy of Bethune, using primary source documents from the collections of the State Library and Archives of Florida. Lesson plans included in the unit are correlated to state and national standards.

Mary McLeod Bethune and girls from her school, Daytona Beach, ca. 1910

Mary McLeod Bethune and girls from her school, Daytona Beach, ca. 1910

Black History Month Webinar

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

Looking for Black History Month resources? Check out our Florida Electronic Library/Florida Memory webinar to learn more about online resources for the study of African-American history and culture in Florida: http://bit.ly/1jAFz5w.

Abraham, Black Seminole war leader and interpreter, ca. 1838

Abraham, Black Seminole war leader and interpreter, ca. 1838

Civil Rights Photo Exhibit

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

Floridians played a prominent role in the long struggle for civil rights. Visit our online photo exhibit to learn more about important events and individuals in the Civil Rights Movement in Florida.

NAACP march on the Capitol, Tallahassee, early 1960s

NAACP march on the Capitol, Tallahassee, early 1960s