This exhibit was prepared by eleven students for an Honors College class "Major Works/Ideas" in the Spring of 2012. Under the supervision of librarian-instructor Andy Huse, each student's assignment was to present an aspect of Florida's history or culture using only materials from USF Tampa Library's Special Collections. The summary below is culled from their written introduction.
"In this exhibit, we will explore the history of what is now the state of Florida, including the culture of the Indian tribes that predated European presence by thousands of years, the technological advances that allowed the peninsula’s population and economy to develop into one of the largest of the 50 states, and the development of the tourism industry (and other related fields) that became the state’s trademark into the 21st century. We will present a narrative of Florida’s development based on historical photos and documents, as well as modern texts and accounts of the state’s history."
During the Spanish Period of Floridian History (1513-1821), the Spaniards endured hardship, starvation, hostile Indians, and poverty for many of the colony’s years. What little prosperity there was in the colony was destroyed by the English and their Creek allies, leaving Spanish Florida mainly desolate. It would not see prosperity until it was eventually absorbed by the newly-formed United States of America.
Spain formally ceded Florida to the United States in 1821, and by 1822 Florida was officially a Territory of the United States. This made it much more appealing to the first major migration of American pioneers to Florida. These pioneers were largely plantation owners from the already established southern states of the Carolinas, Georgia and Virginias. They came to Florida in considerable numbers and they brought their slaves and plantation lifestyle with them.
For centuries, traveling across Florida was an arduous task, involving navigating rivers and swamplands. However, beginning in the late 19th century, the introduction of railroads, highways, and airports revolutionized the state and transformed it into the tourism hotspot it is today.
One of Florida's biggest contributors to the economy is tourism. Why does anyone not living here come here? Vacations. Florida has something everywhere you go for tourists. People can visit the natural parts of Florida like the Everglades and enjoy local attractions and all kinds of festivals, such as Gasparilla in Tampa; but, let's not forget the number one reasons to visit Florida: the beaches and Disneyworld.
Florida's great weather makes it a natural location for athletic events. As the state has grown, so has the amount of sporting events, with college sports becoming a huge industry, along with the establishment of professional teams in the state. At the same time, Florida has also become a destination for annual events such as bowl games or auto races that attract both athletes and fans to the Sunshine State.
Florida's architecture has been influenced by its environment and various international styles. Technological advances have made it easier to deal with the heat and humidity. Spanish and Greek influences have molded tourist sites.
When one looks at Florida it is impossible not to observe the diverse backgrounds of its inhabitants and their respective communities; this is due in large part to the various immigrant populations that developed in particular areas. We see this depicted in Tarpon Springs and Ybor City, where central immigrant populations established lively communities.
From the first Europeans’ discovery of the region to the modern day, the state of Florida has fostered a rich and diverse collection of music. The existence of a melting pot of cultural backgrounds allows many genres to stand out specific to Florida. Some of the more recognizable genres fall into the categories of Latin music, African-American styled music, and music written particularly to develop the tourist industry of Florida.
Disease has always been present in Florida; however the prevalence of disease increased dramatically after the Spaniards founded Florida in 1513. Unfortunately, since the Native American population had no immunities to the diseases the Spaniards carried (such as Small Pox), the Native American population was decimated. Disease also was able to spread because of Florida’s unique geographical location. It stimulated the trade of goods and spread of disease throughout Florida’s many ports. Florida’s subtropical climate beckons people to vacation and move to the Sunshine State. However this subtropical climate also encourages the spread of tropical diseases. This constant movement of people and goods made it easy for disease to be brought and spread throughout Florida. The Yellow Fever, Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS diseases accurately showcase the unique spread of disease throughout the state of Florida.
The advancement of technology has played an important role in the shaping of Florida’s history and culture. The dredging and land forming of Florida, the introduction of air conditioning into Florida, and the birth and expansion of Florida’s Space Coast represent some of the many ways in which technology has created modern Florida.