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A Guide to Women's History Collections

Left to Right: Billie Holiday, two women with a stack of legislative bills, Seminole Women, Wakulla Swimmers

Introduction

The State Archives of Florida, under the Florida Department of State, 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, the permanently valuable records that are created or received during the course of state business.

The State Archives collects records in five main areas. State Government Public Records are the core of the Archives collections. These records document the activities of Florida's territorial and state government from 1821 to the present. The Manuscript holdings of the State Archives of Florida are composed of various collections from: private citizens; religious organizations; businesses; and other non-public entities. The Florida Photographic Collection consists of more than 1 million still images and thousands of motion picture films and tapes of Florida people, places and events from the middle of the 19th century to the present. The Genealogical Collection contains books, microfilm, online resources and other publications that provide an extensive information resource for genealogists. The Archives Local Public Records Collection includes a limited amount of materials from various county and municipal governments around the state. All record categories are valuable in terms of researching women's history.

This guide to collections relevant to women's issues and history was compiled in part by conducting a search of the State Archives of Florida Online Catalog, which is available to patrons both in the Archives and remotely. The Online Catalog allows searching and browsing of information about the State Archives of Florida's holdings of almost 50,000 cubic feet of state and local government records and historical manuscripts. The catalog provides descriptions of more than 3,500 collections, and lists the contents of containers and folders in many of those collections.

In addition to the records listed in this guide, the Archives holds other collections containing materials relevant to women's issues and history. In particular, subject files and correspondence of governors, legislators and state agencies often contain relevant records. Folder and box titles are searchable using the Online Catalog, a process which can be useful in locating files on women contained within larger collections.

Legislative committee records consist of Florida Senate and House committee files, as well as audio recordings of hearings. Subject matter includes legislation directly affecting women, such as that dealing with welfare reform, labor and equal opportunity, and women in the military. The Archives also holds the United States census for Florida from 1830 to 1920, as well as a range of census records for various other states, which can be helpful in compiling statistical information. County and other local record series, though not listed in this guide, are also a rich source of information. The Archives' local government series consist primarily of microfilm copies of county court records from Florida's 67 counties, including: probate; marriage; birth; military; and property records concerning women.

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