The Black Experience
A Guide to African American Resources in the State Library and Archives of Florida

Cover of Women's History Guide

Florida Photographic Collection

Over 850,000 still images and over 2,000 movies and video tapes comprise the Florida Photographic Collection, a nationally recognized component of the State Archives of Florida and the largest and most comprehensive grouping of Florida-related images in existence. The Photographic Collection visually documents the people, places, and events that have contributed to the State's history and development from the mid-15th century to the present. The earliest items in the collection are copies of colonial-era maps and prints, while photographic documentation begins from the middle of the nineteenth century.

The earliest photograph dates back to 1845, while the Photographic Collection's films and videos date from the 1950s to the present. The black experience in Florida is reflected in a wide range of images from several of the collections that form part of the Florida Photographic Collection

University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station.
Photographs, 1910-1946, 755 images
S 1830

The Florida Agriculture College was established in 1884 by provisions of the 1862 Morrill Land Grant Act of Congress, which donated public lands to individual states for the purpose of providing education in the agricultural and mechanical arts. With the passage of the Hatch Act in 1887, Congress provided for the creation of an agricultural experiment station at each of the land grant institutions to promote research for the development and improvement of the rural home and rural life. In 1888, the Agricultural Experiment Station was established at the Florida Agriculture College then located at Lake City. In 1906 the Florida Agriculture College and the East Florida Seminary were combined and relocated to Gainesville where the Agricultural Experiment Station remained an integral part of the College of Agriculture at the new University of the State of Florida (now the University of Florida). Cooperative extension work with the federal government began in 1914 with the passage of the Smith-Lever Act in Congress. Extension services for those persons not attending the university included instruction, demonstrations and publications in agriculture, home economics and rural energy.

This series of photographs documents the programs and activities of the Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of Florida and its cooperation with the United States Agricultural Extension Service. The series includes black-and-white images of county agents providing instruction in vegetable canning and livestock judging; numerous images of recreational camps for boys and girls at the Agricultural Experiment Station's educational institutions; and images of Agricultural Experiment Station fields, crops, specimen plants, grass drying machines, farm equipment and machinery, and records of growing conditions and agents.

Florida Forest Service.
Program and Project Photographs, 1931-1940, 800 images
S 1831

The Florida Forest Service was one of a succession of state offices responsible for overseeing the commercial, industrial, and natural resources of Florida's forests. The Florida Forest Service was established in 1928, succeeding the Florida Board of Forestry. It cooperated with federal and state agencies, counties, towns, corporations, and individuals in disseminating information about Florida forests, managing fire prevention and control programs, and enforcing laws pertaining to forests and woodlands.

In 1929 the Florida Forest Service began a reforestation program, producing pine seedlings for sale to Florida landowners to encourage them to replace the trees that had been harvested during early logging activities. The first nursery was established at the state prison at Raiford. The Civilian Conservation Corps, established in 1933, gave great impetus to the forestry program. In 1934 Florida's first forestry training camp for agriculture students was held in cooperation with the forest industry, and in 1935 legislation was passed resulting in the formation of the Board of Forestry and Parks. The Forest Service acquired over 200,000 acres of forest land that decade. In 1969, the Florida Forest Service became the Division of Forestry within the new Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

This series of photographs documents the programs and activities of the Florida Forest Service, including black-and-white images of virgin forests, controlled burnings, seedling plantings, turpentining, nurseries, state parts, and various Civilian Conservation Corps projects.

Frisbie, Louise
Winter Haven and Florida Photographs, 1910-1950, 1,433 images
M84-50

Louise Frisbie was a life-long Floridian, distinguished historian, and prodigious collector of photographs. She was a member of the Polk County Historical Commission for many years and was editor of the Polk County Historical Quarterly for four years. She was honored by the Florida Senate for her contributions to the preservation of regional history and by the Polk County Historical Association for service to the association and to the county. She authored three books pertaining to Florida history: Peace River Pioneers; Yesterday's Polk County; and Florida's Fabled Inns.

This collection consists of approximately 1,433 black-and-white images of homes, hotels, and businesses, primarily from Winter Haven but also from throughout Florida. Numerous photographs were taken by Robert Dahlgren, a prominent Winter Haven photographer during the first half of the twentieth century. Also included in this collection are portraits of men, women, and children

General Photographic Collection, 1845-2001, 800,000 items
M82-5

The "General Collection" embodies the bulk of the Florida Photographic Collection, which was established in 1952 by Allen Morris, a political columnist and compiler of The Florida Handbook. Realizing that the visual documentation of Florida's history was being lost to neglect and destruction, Morris initiated steps to prevent further loss. With the assistance of Dr. Doak Campbell, President of Florida State University, Morris began to assemble photographs of Florida people and places. The collection became part of the library on the F.S.U. campus, housed first in Dodd Hall and later in R.M. Strozier Library. In 1982 the collection became part of the State Archives of Florida and was moved to the Archives facility in the R.A. Gray Building, where it continues to expand in size and scope.

This collection of photographic images forms a comprehensive visual history of Florida. Comprised of photographs provided to the State Archives by hundreds of individual donors, the collection reflects the homes, families, work, pastimes, and social, cultural, and natural environments of Floridians from the mid-1800s to the present.

The "General Collection" is comprised of three primary components: a browsable "Reference Collection" of mounted, captioned prints; a "Print Collection" of unmounted prints; and a "Negative Collection" of unprinted negatives.

Harper, Alvan S., 1847-1911.
Photographic Collection, 1884-1910, 1,600 images
M87-30

Alvan S. Harper was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania in 1847. Between 1870 and 1884, he was a professional photographer in Philadelphia. A chance meeting with Judge J.T. Bernard of Tallahassee, who was in Philadelphia as a commissioner from Florida to the 1876 Centennial Exposition, may have led to Harper's move to Tallahassee in 1884.

Harper was soon advertising that he would take "artistic photographs" in his first studio, a room in the house he was renting. He moved twice before buying a house and building his own studio where he worked between 1889 and his death in 1911. Some of Harper's best negatives were lost when his studio was torn down in the 1920s. The negatives had been given to a Tallahassee history buff who, because they were dirty, left them on a porch where they were mistaken for trash and taken to the dump. About 2,000 more Harper negatives were found in 1946 in the attic of the house he had owned. A Tallahassee photographer printed 250 negatives and circulated the prints among the community for identification. The negatives were turned over to the State Library and transferred to the Florida Photographic Collection after it was founded in 1952.

This collection consists of the surviving glass negatives of noted portrait photographer Alvan S. Harper. The collection includes about 200 portraits of Philadelphia people, some identified; about 100 views of Tallahassee buildings and street scenes, along with a few from Monticello, Quincy, St. Marks, and Panacea; and about 1,300 portraits of groups and individual men, women, and children, mostly unidentified. Especially noteworthy are Harper's portraits of middle class African Americans.

One-hundred twenty-five Harper photographs are published in the book The Photographs of Alvan S. Harper, Tallahassee, 1885-1910, edited by Joan Perry Morris and Lee H. Warner (Tallahassee: University Presses of Florida, 1983).

Museum of Florida History.
Florida Photograph and Film Collection, 1890-1929, 2 cubic feet
S 1738

This series comprises an artificial collection of photographic and film documentation of family life and the tobacco industry in Florida, collected by the Museum of Florida History. The collection includes two photograph albums of the Hermann Fleitman family of Live Oak Plantation, Leon County, depicting plantation and hunting scenes, sports (including golf and baseball), a few house interiors, and some images of African Americans. The collection also includes three 16mm motion picture films and 59 glass slides concerning the tobacco industry in Tampa.

Twine, Richard Aloysius, 1896-1974.
Lincolnville, Saint Augustine Photographic Collection, 1922-1927,
103 images
M91-15

Richard Aloysius Twine, born in St. Augustine on May 11, 1896, had a brief but notable career as a professional photographer in Lincolnville, Florida. Lincolnville was the center of the black business and residential community in St. Augustine during the first few decades of the 20th century. Few buildings remain of Lincolnville today. The Twine home on Kings Ferry Way had been damaged by fire and was about to be torn down in 1988 when, fortuitously, the demolition crew discovered 103 glass negatives in the attic. The negatives were restored and placed in the custody of the St. Augustine Historical Society.

These black-and-white images reflect the social and cultural environment of the Linconville community in the 1920s. Images depict individuals and groups on both public and private occasions, including marriage ceremonies, funerals, school graduations, and cultural and community events. Perhaps the most celebrated occasion photographed by Twine was the Emancipation Day Celebration, a special observance which united the black community. Portraits of older men and women are especially poignant, with their facial expressions reflecting the burdens that must have weighed heavily upon them.

Originals held by the St. Augustine Historical Society, St. Augustine, Florida.