University of South Florida: The First Fifty Years

With the support of USF President Judy Genshaft and Provosts David Stamps and Renu Khator, the Florida Studies Center researched and wrote University of South Florida: The First Fifty Years to commemorate the university’s five decades of service to students and the community.

Released in April 2006, the book project offered more than 200 university students, staff, faculty, and alumni an opportunity to sit for an oral history interview and/or contribute written and pictorial items.

Center staff members Mark I. Greenberg and Andrew Huse researched, wrote, and edited the book, advised on the design, and assisted the USF Foundation and University Relations with the book’s production, release, and marketing.

To order a copy of University of South Florida: The First Fifty Years, visit the USF Tampa Bookstore.

Collecting Florida: The Hampton Dunn Collection and Other Floridiana

Collecting Florida, authored by University Librarian Paul Camp in 2006 and funded from a restricted USF Foundation account established for this endeavor, captures the vibrant spirit of Floridiana collections in the University of South Florida Tampa Library.

Residing in the Special Collections Department, these collections are rich in research value, and offer an intimate glimpse into many tantalizing collections. This book serves as an expression of gratitude to USF’s supportive community and those that have steadfastly helped to build USF’s Floridiana collections over the past five decades.
This project was undertaken to honor a beloved benefactor, Hampton Dunn, whose contributions to our state’s heritage cannot be underestimated.

USF is proud to be one of the leading repositories of Floridiana materials, thanks to the foresight and generosity of Hampton Dunn and others like him. Their passion, interest, and energy have been instrumental in building the library’s strong Special Collections. Researchers of Florida history are indebted to these historians for collecting and preserving what many people may overlook or discard. Dunn’s collections, developed over decades, now serve as his permanent legacy to the people of Florida.

In 2006, with generous support from the Dunn family, Special Collections librarian Paul Camp published Collecting Florida: The Hampton Dunn Collection and Other Floridiana. Collecting Florida is available for purchase from the USF Tampa Library Special Collections Department.

Hillsborough County Goes to War

In 2002, the Tampa Bay History Center and USF Florida Studies Center co-published Hillsborough County Goes to War: The Home Front, 1940-1950, by USF St. Petersburg historian Dr. Gary R. Mormino.

Full of illustrations, over 100 oral histories and personal reminiscences, extensive newspaper accounts, and other sources, the work makes a significant contribution to Florida history.

Hillsborough County Goes to War is available from the Tampa Bay History Center gift shop and at major bookstores throughout Tampa Bay.

Through a formal partnership, the Florida Studies Center and University Press of Florida published titles related to Florida history and culture. Past titles include Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams by Gary R. Mormino; Floridian of His Century: The Courage of Governor LeRoy Collins by Martin A. Dyckman; and Weeki Wachee, City of Mermaids: A History of One of Florida’s Oldest Roadside Attractions, by Lu Vickers and Sara Dionne. In October 2007 the partners published David Colburn’s From Yellow Dog Democrats to Red State Republicans: Florida and Its Politics since 1940.

The Florida Studies Center’s partnership with the University Press of Florida was funded entirely by a restricted USF Foundation endowment established to support his endeavor.

From Yellow Dog Democrats to Red State Republicans: Florida and its Politics Since 1940

David R. Colburn (2007)

Likely to raise hackles among Democrats and Republicans alike, this dynamic history of modern Florida argues that the Sunshine State has become the political and demographic future of the nation. David Colburn reveals how Florida gradually abandoned the traditions of race and personality that linked it to the Democratic Party. The book focuses particularly on the population growth and chaotic gubernatorial politics that altered the state from 1940, when it was a sleepy impoverished southern outpost, to the present and the emergence of a dominant Republican Party.

In the twenty-first century, Colburn says, Florida is a dynamic, highly partisan, largely conservative state at the cultural, social, and economic intersection of the Western Hemisphere. But the transition hasn’t been entirely felicitous.

Allegations abound that the state is a “banana republic” favoring the wealthy, a piece of paradise that embraces “immigrants, natives, seniors, rednecks, evangelicals, and yes, flim-flam artists and mobile home salesmen. All of whom came to the state looking for ways to improve their lot in life.”

Colburn depicts the state’s colorful governors at the center of every postwar development from Cracker to Sun Belt politics, from segregation to integration, from boosterism and modernization to economic and environmental crises. As the story of one of the most influential states in the nation, the book redefines Florida politics. David R. Colburn is professor of history and director of the Askew Institute at the University of Florida.

Purchase this book from the University Press of Florida.

Weeki Wachee, City of Mermaids: A History of One of Florida’s Oldest Roadside Attractions

Lu Vickers and Sara Dionne (2007)

In the postwar explosion of domestic tourism, Weeki Wachee spring offered the quintessential vacation fantasy, a city of colorful mermaids in a natural crystal spring right off the West Coast highway in a sparsely inhabited Florida.

In those early days, the mermaids had to stand alongside the highway to flag travelers down, but once word of their charms got out, travelers headed south to playgrounds in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and Tampa found Weeki Wachee a tantalizing detour from the grueling two-lane road connecting vacationland with the work-a-day world to the north. Vickers and Dionne show how that local novelty became a stellar international attraction.

Founded in 1947 by Walton Hall Smith and Newt Perry, Weeki Wachee and its featured attraction, mermaids, combined the allure of pinup girls with the wholesome talents of variety entertainers to create a daily schedule of underwater acts ranging from eating bananas and performing ballet to staging underwater musicals.

For nearly 60 years, these mermaids with their underwater talents have attracted crowds of vacationers, film crews, and celebrities. Drawing on extensive archival research as well as interviews with dozens of mermaids and other park employees, Vickers traces the park’s rise to prominence. Combined with Dionne’s arrangement of 250 photos, the resulting work shows what it was like to be a mermaid at Weeki Wachee in its heyday. Weeki Wachee, City of Mermaids also explores the enduring appeal of the attraction. Once people get past Weeki Wachee’s once crumbling, recently restored exterior, they continue to be just as genuinely awed by the mermaids as Elvis was.

Lu Vickers is a former Kingsbury Fellow from Florida State University and a two-time recipient of the Florida Individual Artist Grant for
fiction, as well as a recipient of the 2002 Astraea Award for fiction. Her first novel, Breathing Underwater, was published in 2007.

Sara Dionne is a fashion designer in New York City who became interested in Weeki Wachee after seeing its deteriorated state. She is currently working on a documentary exploring the history of the attraction.

Purchase this book from the University Press of Florida.

Floridian of His Century, The Courage of Governor Leroy Collins

Martin A. Dyckman (2006)
Foreword by Gary Mormino and Raymond Arsenault, Series Editors

Six years after his election as a segregationist, Florida governor LeRoy Collins denounced racial discrimination as contrary to “moral, simple justice.” In 1991, the Florida House of Representatives eulogized Collins as the “Floridian of the Twentieth Century,” and today Collins is remembered as one of Florida’s outstanding governors.

As champion against rural misrule in 1954 and as the voice of racial moderation in 1956, Collins won the two most important gubernatorial elections in Florida history. In Floridian of His Century, a political portrait of this controversial Southern governor, Martin Dyckman argues that Collins’s courageous moral leadership spared Florida the humiliation that befell other states under less enlightened leaders.

While his home-state rivals and other Southern leaders preached defiance of the U.S. Supreme Court’s desegregation decisions, Collins’s conscience and faith persuaded him there was no justification for segregation.

At President Lyndon Johnson’s request, Collins became the first Director of the Community Relations Service agency formed under the 1964 Civil Rights Act—a post that would take Collins to Selma for the infamous Selma to Montgomery voting rights march. It was Collins who, in the wake of the bloody attack on the demonstrators by Alabama authorities, arranged for a peaceful conclusion. But his mission became fuel for a racist backlash when Collins ran for the U.S. Senate in 1968. Although the defeat ended his political career, it did not diminish Collins’s pride in his record or the hope that in time his principles would prevail.

Florida Book Awards – Bronze Medal – 2007

Purchase this book from the University Press of Florida.

Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams: A Social History of Modern Florida

Gary R. Mormino (2005)

Florida is a story of astonishing growth, a state swelling from 500,000 residents at the outset of the 20th century to some 16 million at the end. As recently as mid-century, on the eve of Pearl Harbor, Florida was the smallest state in the South.

At the dawn of the millennium, it is the fourth largest in the country, a megastate that was among those introducing new words into the American vernacular: space coast, climate control, growth management, retirement community, theme park, edge cities, shopping mall, boomburbs, beach renourishment, Interstate, and Internet.

Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams attempts to understand the firestorm of change that erupted into modern Florida by examining the great social, cultural, and economic forces driving its transformation. Gary Mormino ranges far and wide across the landscape and boundaries of a place that is at once America’s southernmost state and the northernmost outpost of the Caribbean.

From the capital, Tallahassee–a day’s walk from the Georgia border–to Miami–a city distant but tantalizingly close to Cuba and Haiti–Mormino traces the themes of Florida’s transformation: the echoes of old Dixie and a vanishing Florida; land booms and tourist empires; revolutions in agriculture, technology, and demographics; the seductions of the beach and the dynamics of a graying population; and the enduring but changing meanings of a dreamstate.

Beneath the iconography of popular culture is revealed a complex and complicated social framework that reflects a dizzying passage from New Spain to Old South, New South to Sunbelt. Gary R. Mormino is professor of history at the University of South Florida.

Choice Outstanding Academic Book – 2007

Purchase this book from the University Press of Florida.

Florida Studies Center and the Tampa Bay History Center Relaunch Regional History Journal

The Florida Studies Center and its program partners at the Tampa Bay History Center are pleased to announce the launch of a new history journal with a familiar name – Tampa Bay History.

Tampa Bay History was originally published twice a year, beginning in 1979, by the History Department at the University of South Florida, Tampa campus. Longtime editors Robert Ingalls, Ph. D. and Gary Mormino, Ph.D. published the journal largely on their own, with assistance provided by department office staff. In the end, Ingalls and Mormino could not keep up with the journal’s demands in the face of their responsibilities as university professors and professional historians, and the journal folded in 1998.

Much has changed during the intervening years. In 2000, USF and the Tampa Bay History Center formed a program partnership to broaden each institution’s impact and outreach to the community. The partnership has reached a new level with yet another joint program – the reintroduction of Tampa Bay History, republished since November 2007. The annual journal appears simultaneously in print format and as an open-access electronic publication, hosted by the USF Library System’s Digital Collections & Imaging Unit.

Rodney Kite-Powell, the Tampa Bay History Center’s Saunders Foundation Curator of History, will head the journal’s new staff. Florida Studies Center Director Mark I. Greenberg will serve as the book review editor, and Andrew Huse, assistant librarian with USF’s Special Collections and Florida Studies Center, will take on the role of assistant editor.

Creation of the journal’s editorial board was the first priority, and noted scholars were selected to represent a wide variety of fields. The board currently consists of twelve scholars: Gary Mormino, Paul Dosal, Aaron Smith and Cheryl Rodriguez (USF), James M. Denham (Florida Southern College), Robert Kerstein (University of Tampa), Jack Davis (University of Florida), Jerald Milanich (Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida), Maxine Jones (Florida State University), Joe Knetsch and Susan Parker (State of Florida), and Doris Weatherford (University of South Florida and Florida Southern College).

Articles in Tampa Bay History will cover a wide range of topics, including social, political and environmental history, archaeology, anthropology, and geography. The focus will be on the Tampa Bay area, but the journal will also publish articles that extend into “historic” Hillsborough County — the roughly twenty-county area included within the original boundaries of Hillsborough County when it was created in 1834.

The USF Libraries and Tampa Bay History Center believe that publication of the new Tampa Bay History will allow the History Center and Florida Studies Center to further fulfill their missions and serve their consitituents by providing an outlet to write about and study the region’s history and culture.

The journal’s editors seek submissions that appeal to a wide reading audience. They plan to follow the guideline first established in 1979 by Ingalls and Mormino: that “academics write so that nonprofessionals [can] read and enjoy their work and that nonacademic historians [or experts in other fields] meet scholarly standards for documentation.”

Anyone interested in submitting an article for publication should contact Rodney Kite-Powell at (813) 228-0097 or rkp@tampabayhistorycenter.org. To suggest books for review or to offer assistance as a book reviewer, please contact Mark I. Greenberg at mgreenbe@lib.usf.edu or call (813) 974-1198.

Tampa Bay History is funded from a restricted USF Foundation endowment established to support this endeavor.

(813) 974-2729

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