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Pestilence, Potions, and Persistence
Early Florida Medicine

As the state with the oldest permanent European settlement, Florida also boasts the first hospital in North America, founded in St. Augustine before the start of the 17th century.

Since European and American immigrants first began arriving in Florida, health and illness have been primary concerns.


Medical Exhibit

The warm and humid state—with beaches, swamps, and deep forests—was once shrouded in mystery and allure, symbolizing at different times both the ability of environment and climate to heal and nurture and their potential to do harm.

This exhibit includes documents, photographs, and publications from the collections of the State Library and Archives highlighting the role of health and wellness in the lives of Florida's citizens and in the development of the state.

Documents included in the exhibit range from descriptions of the health effects of travel in the new territory from some of Tallahassee's first citizens, to recollections of midwives who worked during the 1930s.

Personal letters from early settlers, official correspondence from the first State Health Officer, and papers from t he Midwife Certification Program give glimpses of how people experienced health concerns and needs each day, and how the state responded both in times of crisis and through long-range efforts to improve the health of the state overall.