Florida Southern College

Center for Florida History

The Lawton M. Chiles Center for Florida History strives to enhance the teaching, study, and writing of Florida history.

Founded in 2001, the Center seeks to preserve the state’s past through cooperative efforts with historical societies, preservation groups, museums, public programs, media, and interested persons.

As such, the Center’s long-term goals are to:

  • Expand and upgrade the Florida Lecture Series.
  • Offer training in Florida history for public and private school teachers.
  • Work with and advise historical associations in the collection and preservation of historical artifacts, including oral histories, photographs, and manuscripts.
  • Hold symposia on special topics in Florida history.
  • Host a visiting scholar in Florida history.
  • Publish new and out-of-print works of Florida history.
  • Continue and add to our Oral History Collection.

This unique center, housed in the Sarah D. and L. Kirk McKay, Jr., Archives Center is a source of continuing information created to increase appreciation for Florida history.

In the News

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Florida Lecture Series To Hold Six Events

The Lawton M. Chiles Center for Florida History Florida Lecture Series returns to the c...

Florida Lecture Series

The lecture series covers a wide range of disciplines, including history, public affairs, law, sociology, criminology, anthropology, literature, and art. The overall objective of the series is to bring members of the community, the faculty, and the student body together to interact with and learn from leading scholars in their fields.

Florida Lecture Series

Doing What Comes Naturally: A Cracker Talks Stories
Janis Owens (Writer, Newberry, Florida)

Janis Owens is a novelist, memoirist, folklorist and premier storyteller who enjoys sharing her experiences as a writer and native of old Florida. Born in Marianna in 1960, the last child and only daughter of an Assembly of God preacher who later became an insurance salesman, Owens attended the University of Florida, where she was a student of Harry Crews’ Creative Writing Workshop. Pat Conroy called her, “one of the finest novelists of our time." She is the author of acclaimed novels, including My Brother Michael, Myra Sims, The Schooling of Claybird Catts, and American Ghost. Her essays on Florida life have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Writer’s Digest and many other publications. Also the author of a memoir cookbook, The Cracker Kitchen, Owens’s most recent project is a work of creative non-fiction, Hidden in Plain Sight—a twisted tale of death and destruction in her adopted home of Newberry, Florida.

Face masks are required.

Location: Branscomb Auditorium, Robert Davis Performing Arts Center

This event is open to the public.

February 10 @ 7:00 PM EST

Florida Lecture Series

The Mariel Boatlift
Jose Garcia (Florida Southern College) and Victor Triay (Middletown, Connecticut)

During the spring and summer of 1980, over 125,000 desperate Cuban refugees set out across the Straits of Florida to escape economic and political repression. Many longed to reunite with family members in the United States, who had already escaped from Fidel Castro’s communist dictatorship. Professors Jose Garcia and Victor Triay capture and interpret this human drama— in written form, and from personal experience, and both will share their perspectives on this human drama. José Manuel García, himself a Marielito, is associate professor of Spanish and Latin American studies at Florida Southern College, and the author of Voices from Mariel: Oral Histories of the 1980 Cuban Boatlift. Victor Andres Triay is professor of history at Middlesex Community College in Middletown, Connecticut, and he is the author of several books, including Operation Pedro Pan, Bay of Pigs: An Oral History of Brigade 2506 and The Mariel Boatlift: A Cuban-American Journey, which earned the gold medal non-fiction Florida book Award.

Face masks are required.

Location: Hollis Room

This event is open to the public.

March 17 @ 7:00 PM EST

Don’t miss a thing!

Watch on YouTube

Starting in 2021 we are live streaming our lectures from Branscomb Auditorium. Check out the Florida Southern College YouTube channel to watch past lectures!

Watch Today

Get Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list for more information regarding the Florida Lecture Series.

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Past Florida Lecture Series and Speakers

Among our Series speakers have been distinguished leaders, historians, writers, and public officials such a Reubin Askew, Bob Graham, Janet Reno, Douglas Brinkley, H.W. Brands, and Robert V. Remini. Learn More about our past series and speakers 

Recent Publications

Book: None Can Have Richer Memories Polk County, Florida, 1940-2000

None Can Have Richer Memories Polk County, Florida, 1940-2000
Canter Brown, Jr.
Polk County Historical Association

Book: Echoes from a Distant FrontierThe Brown Sisters' Correspondence from Antebellum Florida

Echoes from a Distant Frontier
The Brown Sisters’ Correspondence from Antebellum Florida

Edited by:
James M. Denham
Keith L. Huneycutt

Book: In the Midst of All That Makes Life Worth Living:Polk County, Florida, to 1940

In the Midst of All That Makes Life Worth Living:
Polk County, Florida, to 1940

Canter Brown, Jr.
Commissioned by the Polk County Historical Association

Book: "A Rogue's Paradise"Crime and Punishment in Antebellum Florida,1821-1861

"A Rogue's Paradise"
Crime and Punishment in Antebellum Florida,
1821-1861

James M. Denham

Book: Cracker Times and Pioneer Lives, The Florida Reminiscences of George Gillett Keen and Sarah Pamela Williams

Cracker Times and Pioneer Lives, The Florida Reminiscences of George Gillett Keen and Sarah Pamela Williams
Edited by:
James M. Denham
Canter Brown, Jr.

Book: Florida Sheriffs: A History 1821-1945

Florida Sheriffs: A History 1821-1945
William Warren Rogers
James M. Denham

Book: Fifty Years of Justice

Fifty Years of Justice
James M. Denham

Book: Florida Founder - William P. Duval - Frontier Bon Vivant

Florida Founder - William P. Duval - Frontier Bon Vivant
James M. Denham

Book: The Letters of George Long Brown - A Yankee Merchant on Florida's Antebellum Frontier

The Letters of George Long Brown
Edited by:
James M. Denham
Keith L. Huneycutt

Support the Center for Florida History

Individuals, corporations, and foundations provide the funds for an endowment and to pay for the operations and programs. If you are interested in supporting the Center for Florida History and its various initiatives, you can contact the Center or the FSC Advancement Office for a pledge card, or you may easily make a gift online.

Give Today

Questions? Contact

James M. Denham, Ph.D.

Executive Director - Center for Florida History
863.680.4312

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Find us in the McKay Archives Building (AR)