West Florida History Center

West Florida History Center


My grandfather, John B. Vaughn, was 37 years old when he took his seat as Escambia County’s newly elected delegate to the Florida House of Representatives. He took his seat of the first time when the legislature convened on February 5, 1889 for a special session called by Governor Francis P. Fleming. The record indicates that he lived at a community called Saltmarsh. Does anyone know where Saltmarsh was located? On May 31, 1889, he co-sponsored bill to incorporate the Town of Bluff Springs, and served on the initial Board of Aldermen. Was Saltmarsh the original name of what became Bluff Springs?
One of the really satisfying things related to what I do, writing historically based fiction, is getting to share some of the things I learn or just stumble upon, with others. Researching history isn’t a chore for me … I love it. I had a chance to pass along some of those bits of knowledge to a group of history teachers at an “in service day” that was sponsored by the Charlotte County Library. Thank you library administrators Tracy Herman and Chris Grabowsky for setting up this event.

For the past several years, I’ve been working on a four book historical novel series that tells Florida’s tale as it journeys into the 20th century. It will be titled, “Clayton’s Chronicles,” and will begin at the battle of King’s Mountain in South Carolina (a surprising, but appropriate place to begin a Florida story) and end in the 1950s when modern Florida started to evolve.

This museum and library process provides me with tractor trailer loads of information that screams for exposure. Plenty of this research fits into my novels … the truth is, there is way too much to include, novels the length of War and Peace are too difficult to sell to publishers. (Not necessarily readers) Many of these stories beg to be told. What I’ve done is to gather these interest grabbers into time period packages and present them at historical societies, libraries, civic clubs, book clubs, community centers, and schools. And, of course, at book stores.

Providing little historical tidbits that folks aren’t familiar with pleases these audiences! Facts like the story of how Florida’s Civil War debt was paid off and what a fishing trip had to do with it, intrigues people. Who invented the concept of air conditioning and why … the fact that the entrance to one of today’s most prestigious and “swanky” beach communities was once a squalid cattle port … the most important single vehicle used in the amphibious landings in the Pacific in WWII was originally designed as a rescue device … and one of the critical reasons Edison picked the place he decided to winter in Florida had to do with what he could grow there … all those facts and many, many more like them, fascinate folks.

Q. and A. after the presentation. I love the interchange.
The conversations with my audiences are great vehicles to learn what potential readers prefer and, maybe more important, what they don’t like! It’s interesting to form bonds with these folks and to observe how much sincere interest they have in what I’m doing.

Sharing is a wonderful thing … try it some time … I believe you’ll like it.

History of West Florida and the Florida Panhandle and promoting the collections of the University Archives and West Florida History Center, John C.

Pace Library, University of West Florida, Pensacola The University Archives and West Florida History Center holds 1.5 million research records including newspapers (1821-present), rare books, letters and manuscripts, photographs, audiotapes, maps, and other information resources for use in history, genealogy, environmental, and other types of research on the West Florida region.

Here are the origins of the oldest public library in the Americas 10/10/2022

Here are the origins of the oldest public library in the Americas

Another "Palafox" reference. Though Pensacola's Palafox street was undoubtedly named for José de Palafox y Melzi, Duke of Saragossa (1775-1847), a Spanish general -- this is a fascinating story of another Palafox...https://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/are-origins-oldest-public-library-americas-rcna51478

Here are the origins of the oldest public library in the Americas The library owes its existence to one of Puebla’s early Catholic bishops, Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, who in 1646 donated his private library of 5,000 volumes to a local religious college.


University Archives & West Florida History Center

It's National Archives Month!

How the West Florida History Center Can Help Your Library and Clients 07/26/2022

How the West Florida History Center Can Help Your Library and Clients

We prepared a five minute "lightning talk" about our Archives for the Panhandle Library Area Network and are pleased to share it here. It covers our purpose, collections, and services in one neat package!

How the West Florida History Center Can Help Your Library and Clients Presenter: Dean DeBolt


We deal with older media all the time in gifts to the center.

Photos from West Florida History Center's post 06/30/2022

"When in the course of human events..." the handwriting looks familiar on Thomas Jefferson's draft of the Declaration of Independence. That sends us to our collections this close-to-the-Fourth weekend and yes, the handwriting looks very familiar on the 1803 letter to Benjamin Hawkins and even the signature stands out! Happy Fourth of July, America and Mr. Jefferson!!


Happy Fourth of July! We share here our copy of an original Gentleman’s Magazine for August 1776, published in London. It contains one of the earliest English printings of the Declaration of Independence. The Mercury packet ship brought news of the Declaration in time for a line to appear about the Philadelphia meeting (London Times, August 10, 1776) and possibly the following week, the full text arrived in London, published first in several newspapers, and then in the magazines, of which Gentleman’s Magazine was one of these. (University Archives and West Florida History Center, RBR AP 4 G3 1776).


Sharing an early aerial of the University of West Florida under construction in early 1967. Library building is complete though exterior walls are needed. Everything else is brand new amid the virgin forest.


This is one of our most asked-for and commented on maps. I believe the original is at the Library of Congress.


Our latest collection arrived today. Will tell more about it once we get it sorted and unpacked and on the shelves.


We heard recently of questions about the town of Fig City indicated on some 1920s maps. We share this from our collections. While it is undated, it's probably the 1925-1927 period when there was a lot of land speculation in Escambia County from other areas of the country. Much of this was never completed and wiped out with the 1929 Stock Crash. For location, note the "Olive School" notation along "Palafox Boulevard"

Photos from West Florida History Center's post 04/12/2022

In August 1973, the UWF Theatre, under Tom Long, did "Life With Father" with guest actor Fred Gwynne!


Each month we try to have a Zoom talk that highlights stories from our collections. Our March event is coming up and we'll talk about five items in the collections and share them with you!


From the Charles Cottrell collection of photographs that we've printed from the original glass negatives (or in some cases scanned) comes this picture of the fleet of Seven-Up Bottling Company trucks in their plant yard at 3300 Mobile Highway. We're guessing circa 1950.


We note the passing of P. J. O'Rourke who received an honorary doctorate from UWF in 2012 and was our commencement speaker that Spring.


Come join us for this month's Stories from the Archives about historical Valentines in our collection.


Archivist Dean DeBolt spoke yesterday to the UDC Chapter in Pensacola on the "19th Amendment" -- the history of women suffrage and the suffrage efforts in Florida and Pensacola up to the 1920 passage of women's right to vote. The Chapter celebrated by creating sashes for the members.


100 Years ago, John Philip Sousa and his band gave two concerts at the "new" high school on Palafox Streets, a matinee at 3:00 and an evening concert on Tuesday, January 31st. It was Sousa's second visit to Pensacola and he also spoke at the Pensacola Rotary luncheon at the San Carlos Hotel.


You can find these daleks in our library too.


We note with sadness the passing of Sidney Poitier. In the 1950s, Pensacolian Johnnie Newton and Sidney Poitier operated several restaurants together but Newton decided to move back to Pensacola and Sidney's career began picking up. The two remained friends for life. Sidney closed the restaurant soon after Newton moved back to Pensacola, noting in his book "My Life" that he missed (and needed) Newton's business acumen. Newton owned the Bunny Club and was president of the Belmont & DeVilliers Business Association in 1980.


NASA and the United State Geologic Survey launched Landsat-9 in September and here is an image from the first day of data collection (October 31, 2021) showing the Florida Panhandle. On the left, clearly bright, are the white sand beaches and on the right is Panama City on the cusp of popcorn clouds.

Photos from West Florida History Center's post 10/29/2021

Found this today while doing some sorting. Remember the railroad diner at the corner of Barrancas and Garden?


We will have an October hour in the Archives telling ghost stories of West Florida. Please join us.


A horrible photo from both a librarian and a book lover -- sent to me about ten years ago from a family member!


As we run up to Labor Day 2021, we're going to share photographs of people at labor from our vast photograph collections. This shot is women working at Chemstrand with nylon filaments in April 1957.


We were saddened this week to learn of the passing of a major supporter of the University, Hal Marcus. Here we share one of our favorite pictures of the Marcuses at a scholarship celebration lunch in April 2010 with two of our favorite alumni (yes, they spent hours researching here in the Archives those years) Siska Williams and Kendra Kennedy.


John Frost's 'Pictorial Life of Jackson' published in 1847 contains numerous woodcut illustrations made for the popular book, many of them fictitious with artist's license. We sort of like this one -- "Retreat of the British from Pensacola on the approach of Jackson" It only exists in the artist's imagination ... but now, in 2021, the folks on the right look like they are wearing their COVID masks.

Photos from West Florida History Center's post 04/14/2021

Google is promoting "Gutenberg" day in honor of the famous printer of Mainz, Germany. So we will also share a page from our collection printed on that press and with its type, a leaf from the 1460 Catholicon, third book printed on the press.


SAVE THE DATE: Join us (online!) from Noon until 1:00 pm on Monday, March 15th for An Hour with Archives: Pensacola's First Female Astronaut. 🌙

Our university archivist, Dean DeBolt, will discuss how Pensacola made history with a unique local celebrity.

Our presentation will be held in Google Meet: meet.google.com/mdg-gygd-rrs


I had not thought about these terms before!

Photos from West Florida History Center's post 03/03/2021

Women's History Month continues ... today we salute Eleanor Roosevelt. She came to Pensacola on Sunday, February 1, 1942 and was rushed (police es**rt) to the San Carlos Hotel just minutes before her live radio broadcast on WCOA. While here for several days, she visited Washington High School, Fort San Carlos, Fort Barrancas and Santa Rosa Island. It was actually her second visit to Pensacola -- she first visited August 20, 1941 as a guest of Lt. and Mrs. Earl R. Miller in Warrington, Florida. Miller was an aide to FDR when he was Governor of New York.


Pensacola's First Lady of Florida

It seems appropriate to begin Women's History Month noting that Pensacola was home to First Lady of Florida Rachel Jackson, the wife of Florida's First Governor Andrew Jackson. She actually arrived in Pensacola while it was still a Spanish possession on June 28, 1821 along with her son Andrew Jackson, Jr., niece Narcissa Hays, and nephew Stockley Donelson Hays. Pensacola had a population of around 720, and she wrote letters home praising the sea breeze, plentiful fruits, but dismayed at the Spanish lack of strict observance of the Sabbath. She returned to Nashville, with General Jackson, leaving Pensacola on October 8, 1821. (Painting by Ralph E. W. Earl, 1823)



English intern Michalah Dunson is in Archives this semester and she is helping us to digitize The Pensacola Voice, a major long-running newspaper covering the Pensacola Black community. After workflow of editing, combining, and OCR, these issues will join University Archives and West Florida History Center's digital newspaper collection which has the largest accumulation of Pensacola Black newspapers in existence. Our website for these and other digital materials is: uwf.digital.flvc.org

Photos from West Florida History Center's post 02/22/2021

Congratulations to Mike Simmons on his new book on the history of the Pensacola Police Department. He used our collections in Archives as well as books and newspapers of the John C. Pace Library!

An Hour with Archives : Valentines Edition 2021 02/17/2021

An Hour with Archives : Valentines Edition 2021

Missed the Hour with Archives: Valentine's Event last week?

We've placed it on the libraries' Youtube channel so you learn more about all the V-day cards in our archives special collections. ❤

Please enjoy: https://youtu.be/YrjFcSKkR14

An Hour with Archives : Valentines Edition 2021 On Monday, February 8th, 2021, the University of West Florida Libraries presented our monthly series An Hour with Archives: Valentines Day Edition. Our Unive...


It's a little late but the folks at the National Archives shared this. And it's true for us with our 2,000 shelves of West Florida historical records and photographs!


Some of the early and interesting Valentines in our collection were shown during my talk this week, so I'll share some of them here over the next few days. Today, this is a Raphael Tuck (London) Valentine fan, circa 1880. It folds out to 12 in. wide.


Save the date, Argos! ❤️


University of West Florida Student Life, 2002

Probably a rough video done to provide 'cuts' for campus publicity; shows campus buildings, student life, signage, posters, etc.; file date 6/18/2002 but some banners are from Christmas period 2001-2002

Photos from West Florida History Center's post 01/07/2021

RESEARCH TIDBIT ... Before stamps were issued in 1847, when you mailed a letter, the recipient had to pay the postage. Postmasters were required to publish a list in the local newspaper of the names of individuals for whom they had mail. It was a notification to come to the post office and pay for the item(s) waiting for you.
These lists can be very helpful in identifying who was living locally. Here is an example from the Pensacola Gazette of November 9, 1826 showing the alphabetical list through Desiderio Quina.

The letter (attached image, not a West Florida cover) would be marked with the amount due, a 25 meaning twenty-five cents.

Videos (show all)

Dean Explains the Archives and West Florida History Center
Congratulations, Argos!
Christmas Wishes from University of West Florida Library
Galvez Era Holdings in West Florida History Center
The Peeps Visit the Archives
A Woman's Place Is In The Archives
Halloween 2017 Exhibit




John C. Pace Library, University Of West
Pensacola, FL

Opening Hours

Monday 8am - 4:30pm
Tuesday 8am - 4:30pm
Wednesday 8am - 4:30pm
Thursday 8am - 4:30pm
Friday 8am - 4:30pm

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