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African-American Collection

Image of the artist Augusta Savage with her sculpture, photo is part of the African-American collection at the Jacksonville Public Library

Discover the rich cultural Influence of people of African Americans in Northeast Florida.  Through books, pamphlets, photographs, newspapers, documents, microforms, and multimedia, the African-American Collection brings to life the historical, social, civic, religious, economic and cultural life of African-Americans.

Explore more than 1,000 subject and biography files with unique photographs, person papers and primary source materials during your visit.  Learn about African-American art, cooking, music and local landmarks.  Discover actual slave manifests from nearby ports and read local African-American newspapers.

African-American Collection

Adams, Henry Lee

1st African American Judge, 4th Judicial District, 1st integrated law firm in Jacksonville.

Aikens, Chester A.

1st African American from Jacksonville to serve as a board member of the Jacksonville Port Authority and a board member of the University of North Florida Foundation.

Alexander, Edna DeVeaux

1st African American woman on radio in Miami, FL, now a Jacksonville resident.

Alexander, Winona Cargyle

Founding member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Only Jacksonville resident to be an original member of a Black Greek letter organization.

Alfred, Rayfield "Ray"

1st African American  Fire Chief of Jacksonville, FL.

Anderson, Loretta B.

1st African American woman appointed U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of FL.

Austin, Cynthia

1st African American woman to hold the title of JTA chairwoman (2002).

Badger, Jr., Solomon L.

One of the 1st African Americans inducted into the Religious Hall of Fame at the Florida Baptist Convention.

Baker, Japhus

1st licensed African American embalmer in the state of Florida and lived in Jacksonville.

Bannister, Ethel

Professional singer and "first lady of gospel song".

Bastin, Joseph

1st African American senior class president of First Coast High School (2005).

Blodgett, Joseph H.

1st African American millionaire in Jacksonville, FL and builder.

Bradham, Mildred

1st African American woman Chief of Children's Services in post-consolidation Jacksonville.

Brigety, Sr., Reuben

1st African American graduate of University of Florida College of Medicine from Jacksonville in 1970.

Brigety, II, Reuben

Sandalwood graduate, positions in military, State Department, appointed in 2013-2015 as Ambassador to African Union, and Dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University (Oct. 2015).

Brown, Alvin

1st African American elected Mayor of Jacksonville in 2011-2015.

Brown, Corrine

Jacksonville native, and 1st woman and 1st African American from Jacksonville to be elected to the U.S. Congress representing Florida (1992).

Brown, Jackie

Local community activist and contractor, and 1st African American woman to run in a Jacksonville mayoral election (2007).

Brown, Mildred

One of the 1st African Americans to work on elections as inspector in Duval County.

Brown, Richard Lewis "R.L."

Jacksonville's 1st known African American architect.

Bryant, Ezekiel W.

1st African American in Florida to be appointed Florida State College of Jacksonville Campus President in 1974.

Butler, Mamie L.H.

1st Supervisor of Public School Music in Duval County in 1931.

Canty, Bennie L.

1st African American given an administrative post after Jacksonville's consolidation.

Carter, Delphenia Mainor

Sponsored the 1st African American History Celebration at the Downtown Campus (FSCJ) and former researcher for the Jacksonville Black History Calendar.

Chandler, Gwen J.

1st African American woman to run as a Republican to be elected to the Jacksonville City Council in an At- Large seat (1995-2003).

Cheeseborough, Chandra "Cheese"

Jacksonville Olympian and 1st woman to ever win 3 gold medals in track and field.

Cline, Charles H.

1st African American Associate Superintendent of the Duval County Public Schools.

Cody, Sr., William L.

1st African American President of the Medical Staff at St. Vincent's Medical Center - Riverside.

Coleman, Jr., Andrew Brooker "A.B."

1st African American who was both a Minister and mortician inducted into the Religious Hall of Fame.

Coleman, Bessie

1st African American woman licensed pilot in the world. The airplane she was flying crashed in Jacksonville in 1926.

Coleman, Ron

1st scholarship awarded to African American athlete at University of North Florida  in 1968.

Cotman, Earl

1st African American to graduate in 1970 from University of Florida  College of Medicine.

Daniels, Kimberly

1st African American woman to run as a Democrat to be elected to the Jacksonville City Council in an At- Large seat (2011-2015).

Darby, Barbara Verdell

1st African American woman President of the North Campus of Florida State College of Jacksonville.

Davis, Patricia

Navy's 1st African American woman physician in 1975 and Jacksonville native.

Davis, Tracie

1st African American woman candidate for Jacksonville Supervisor of Elections (2015)

Drake, Pauline

1st African American woman appointed and then 1st to be elected as judge on Florida's Duval County Court, Division 1.

Drummer, Preston

1st African American Secretary-Treasurer of the Florida AFL-CIO from Jacksonville.

Dwight, Florida

1st African American woman Supervisor for the City of Jacksonville Department of Parks, Entertainment and Recreation.

Dwight, Sr., David H.

1st African American to receive scouting's highest council award, the Silver Beaver Award (1936).

Emanuel, Frank S.

1st clinical pharmacist in Jacksonville.

Freeman, Mack

North Florida's 1st African American television reporter on WTLV in 1968.

Fullwood, Reginald "Reggie"

Youngest City Council member to be elected in Jacksonville, Florida (District 9)

Gaffney, Don

1st African American starting quarterback at University of Florida.

Garvin, W. T.

One of the 1st post-Reconstruction African American City Council members in Jacksonville.

Gibson, Althea

1st African American player to compete at Wimbledon in 1957 and in the U.S. Championship Open.

Gibson, Gwen

1990 became the 1st African American woman elected to the Duval County School Board.

Gibson, Harold

1st African American administrative aide to a Mayor of City of Jacksonville.

Gilbert, Matthew William

1st African American principal of Florida Baptist Academy.

Girardeau, Arnett

1st African American of Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, and 1st African American male elected to State Senate.

Glover, Nathaniel "Nat"

1st African American Sheriff elected in 1995 in Jacksonville.

Godwin, Carlton

1st African American student president at University of North Florida.

Guinyard, Julius

Instructor at 1st community swimming pool for African Americans  in 1951 known as Jefferson Street Pool .

Harris, Carla

1st African American Vice Chair of Morgan, Stanley Wealth Management from Jacksonville.

Hatchett, Joseph W.

1975 appointed by Gov. Askew to fill vacancy on Florida Supreme Court. In 1976 was the 1st African American elected to a statewide office in Florida. Confirmed by the Senate to a seat on the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals based in New Orleans.

Herbert, Adam

1st President of the University of North Florida, 1st African American of Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, and Chancellor of Florida State University system.

Holmes, Wendell P.

1st African American member of Duval County School Board and elected as School Board Chairman in Florida.

Holzendorf, Betty S.

1st African American woman from Jacksonville elected to the Florida State Senate representing District 2 (1992 2002).

Hopkins, Glenda Bonnett

1st woman African American firefighter in 1979. 1st to complete training needed to be hired.

Howard, Vivian Wilson

1st African American woman licensed mortician in Duval County. Apprenticeship at Huff Funeral Home.

Hunter, Richard DeVois

1st African American Board Certified surgeon in Duval County.

Ingraham-Drayton, Pauline

1st African American woman on bench in 4th Judicial Ciruit in 1998.

Jackson, Vivian Copeland

1st African American director of HUD Jacksonville.

Jackson, Brenda

1st African American woman to be named to New York Times Best Sellers List and USA Today's Best-Selling Books List for Romantic Novels.

Jackson, Brenda Priestly

1st African American woman in Jacksonville to run for Clerk of Circuit Court, Duval County (2012).

Jackson, Sr., Ernest D.

1st African American to win an election in 1956 in Jacksonville in over 40 years as Justice of the Peace.

Jackson, Sr., Willie

1st African American football player at University of Florida (1969-71).

Jacobs, Larry

1st African American news anchorman at WJXT, TV-4 in the late 1960s.

James, Jr., Daniel "Chappie"

1st African American four-star general in American military history (1976)

Johnson, Alma

A Jacksonville native and the 1st African American woman in the Florida Army National Guard to become a command sergeant.

Johnson, James Weldon

Poet, novelist and civil rights leader. 1st Executive Secretary of NAACP from Jacksonville. Wrote "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing."

Johnson, Jr., Earl

1st African American Jacksonville City Council President.

Jones, Cleo

1st African American inner-city elementary school teacher.

Jones, Kenneth

1st African American Chief of General Surgery at St. Vincent's Medical Center. Pioneered a ground breaking kidney transplant procedure in the U.S.

Kennedy, May Lofton

1st African American woman librarian at the Jacksonville Public Library and 1st African American to serve in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Kinsey, Calvin Delmas

Pastor and community leader known as "trailblazer in media ministry". One of the 1st inducted in Florida Baptist Religious Hall of Fame.

Knight, Adrian Kenneth

Originated 1st African American television show in Jacksonville called the Ken Knight Show on WJXT.

Leapheart, Gwendolyn C.

1st African American woman to be elected countywide to the Jacksonville Civil Service Board prior to conversion to appointed positions (1992).

Lee, Joseph E.

1st African American lawyer in Jacksonville Republican Party.

Lewis, Abraham Lincoln "A.L."

1st African American in Jacksonville to own property and operate a shoe store; organized Fifty-Fifty Bottling Company, one of the 1st African American millionaires in the city. Started the Afro-American Life Insurance Co. and  developed American Beach.

Lucas, Bill

1st African American from Jacksonville to be Vice- President in 1978 for a major league baseball team the Atlanta Braves.

Luster, Reginald

1st African American lawyer to lead the Jacksonville Bar Association in 2004.

Mathis, Sallye Brooks

One of the 1st African American women to be elected to the Jacksonville City Council (1967).

May, Cynthia

1st African American woman to win the title of Homecoming Queen of University of Florida (1973) from Jacksonville.

McIntosh, Charles B.

Pediatrician, 1st African American pediatric practice in Jacksonville in 1958, 2nd in the state, and one of the 1st African Americans to join the Duval County Medical Society in 1963.

McLaughlin, Clara aka Criswell, Clara McLaughlin

1st African American woman in the U.S. to be founder and largest shareholder of the a network affiliated TV station.

McQueen, Margaret

1st African American woman to be elected to political office in the City of Jacksonville Beach (1991-1994); selected by the Council to fill a seat left vacant by Council member's death (1998).

McRay, Jesse J.

1st African American cabinet member in 104 years appointed by Gov. Reubin Askew.

Mills, Hettie L.

1st African American woman nursing instructor at Brewster Hospital Jacksonville.

Mitchell, Robert

One of the 1st African Americans to earn a PhD from Florida State University in 1970.

Muldrow, Kathryn

1st African American woman secretary to be appointed to a school - Stanton High School.

Payne, Rufus E.

1st African American Supervisor of Negro Schools in Duval Co. 1928. 1st principal of Franklin Street Public School (now Matthew W. Gilbert).

Payne, Willard

1st African American McDonald's franchise owner in Florida.

Perry, Rita

1st African American woman founding publisher of a weekly newspaper in Jacksonville and Florida.

Richardson, Sandra Hull

1st African American President of the Jacksonville Junior League.

Robinson, Andrew Adolphus

1st African American to serve as Interim President at University of North Florida.

Robinson, Luvinia A.

1st Arican American woman appointed to the Jacksonville Board of Realtors (1970).

Rose, Laura

1st African American woman principal in 1991 in Mandarin at the Greenland Pines Elementary School (a predominately white school) .

Sea, Charlie

1st African American Police Sergeant in Jacksonville and killed in the line of duty.

Shellman, William

1st African American Constable in Duval County.

Singleton, Mary Littlejohn

One of the 1st women elected to the Jacksonville City council (1967); 1st woman from North Florida to be elected to the Florida Legislature (1972-1976); 1st African American Director of the Division of Elections in the Office of the Secretary of State and 1st African American woman from Duval County to serve on the Florida state cabinet (1976); 1st woman to run for Lt.  Governor of Florida (1978).

Skinner, Wilhelmena

1st African American woman to open Skinner Florist on Broad Street in 1935.

Smith, Joseph

1st African American to practice denistry in Jacksonville.

Smith, Ralph

1st African American custodial services supervisor for the City of Jacksonville.

Walker, Rosa Glover-Holmes

1st African American woman funeral director in 1904. Owned Holmes, Glover-Solomon Funeral Home originally located on Broad Street.

Weathersbee, Tonyaa

1st African American to serve on Florida Times Union editorial board.

White, Alvin

1st African American principal of Ribault Senior High School (1972) and 1st African American chief of statf of Duval County Public Schools.

White, Norma Solomon

1st African American in Jacksonville to be elected as Alpha Kappa Alpha  International President.

Williams, Landon

1st African American from Jacksonville to be elected International Vice-President of the International Longshoremen's Association - AFL-CIO.

Williams, Richard E.

1st African American commodore of major Navy air wing and native of Jacksonville.

Willis, Floyd B.

1st African American Chief of Family Medicine at Mayo Clinic.

Yates, Alton W.

1st African American from Jacksonville to be a test pilot for U.S. Air Force.

Yates, Elizabeth E.

1st African American woman lending agent specialist in mortgage/lending division in Jacksonville. Also, 1st woman presiding elder of the 11th Episcopal District's East Annual Conference.


Location:  Main Library/African-American Collection

Florida Times-Union, Star Edition
Format: Microfilm
Coverage: January 1, 1950 – December 31, 1966
Frequency: Daily

Florida Star
Format: Microfilm
Coverage: 1956-2001
Format: Print
Coverage: 2001 to present
Frequency: Weekly

Jacksonville Free Press
Format: Microfilm
Coverage: 1991-2001
Format: Print
Coverage: 2005 to present
Frequency: Weekly

Jacksonville Advocate
Format: Print
Coverage: 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2005, 2006
Frequency: Weekly

Northeast Florida Advocate
Format: Print
Coverage: 1986, 1987, 1989, 1996, 1997
Frequency: Weekly

The People’s Advocate
Format: Print
Coverage: 2007-present
Frequency: Monthly

The City of Jacksonville has several local parks and playgrounds named for significant African American leaders and pioneers in the Jacksonville community. The Parks and Recreation Department has created a series of videos “Celebrating Jacksonville’s Black History: Legacy of Giving” which gives information about the significant African Americans instrumental in strengthening the parks programs and having local parks named after these local African American leaders.

Scott Park

Florida Dwight, first African American Parks Director

Moses Thompson


The collection has microforms which include newspapers, journals, and historical books, personal and organizational papers.

African-American Baptist Annual Reports, 1865-1990 + guide book.

Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia

Minutes of African American Baptist Association along with statistical information about member churches, ministerial lists and sermons preached at annual meetings.

African American Culture and History: the L.S. Alexander Gumby Collection of Negroiana: from the holdings of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library of Columbia University in the city of New York + guide.

Gumby’s scrapbooks with newspaper clippings, photos, pamphlets, playbills, and letters from subjects such as Josephine Baker, Joe Louis, W.E.B. DuBois, and many other notable African Americans. Each scrapbook is devoted to one subject, a person, organization or topic.

African American Press Collection

Colored American Magazine v.2 (1900)-17(1909)

Ebony v.1 (1945)-56(2001)

Journal of Negro Education v.1 (1932)-70 (2001)

Journal of Negro History v.1 (1916)-85 (2000)

Negro History Bulletin v.1 (1937)-62(1999)

New South v.1 (1946)-28 (1973)

American Negro Historical Society Collection, 1790-1905 + guide book.

Included in the collection are the minutes of the Historical Society, correspondence, membership lists, bills and receipts, land acquisitions, records of the baseball club the Philadelphia Pythians, photos, records of philanthropic and civic organizations, and slave ledgers.

Annual Report of the American Church Institute for Negroes, 1906-1929.

This is the Annual reports of the American Church Institute for Negroes which organized in 1905 to secure funds for eleven Episcopal schools and hospitals for African Americans in the south. Reports include photographs of the schools, expense records and history.

Black Abolitionist Papers, 1830-1865.

The collection includes articles and documents (speeches, sermons, lectures, receipts, poems, etc.) of nearly 300 black abolitionists in the U.S., Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, France, and Germany 1830-1865.

Black Biographical Dictionaries, 1790-1950.

Biographical sketches of African Americans from various backgrounds.

Blacks in the United States Armed Forces: Basic Documents + guide book.

This document contains papers or transcriptions of documents pertinent to the black military experiences in the U.S. from the American Revolutionary War to Viet Nam.

Carter G. Woodson Collection of Negro Papers and Related Documents.

The collection, assembled by Dr. Woodson when he was editor of the Journal of Negro History, consists of correspondence on black history, race relations and discrimination, employment opportunities, political and business affairs, addresses, legal and other documents.

Christian Index.

This index includes communications of the bishops and others, and activities and movements of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church.

Christian Recorder.

The Christian Recorder is the official publication of the African Methodist Episcopal church which covers 1854-1902. It gives factual accounts of events that occurred in the south and a feature of the Recorder is the information wanted page – asking of whereabouts of separated families.

Cleveland Gazette.

The Cleveland Gazette is an African American newspaper that covered events in Cleveland, Ohio and the surrounding area from 1883-1945.

Crisis, v.1 (1910) -111(2004).

The Crisis is the official magazine of the NAACP.

Fannie Lou Hamer, 1917-1977: papers, 1966-1978 + guide book.

This document contains correspondence and financial records, programs, photographs, newspaper articles, invitations, and other items from the Mississippi civil rights activist. The papers, dating between 1966 -1978, include documents pertaining to Fannie Lou Hamer’s participation in the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and the Delta Ministry.

FBI file on Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. + guide book.

The file contains newspaper clippings, and accounts of Adam Clayton Powell’s interactions and movement from 1943 up to the 1960s.

FBI File on A. Philip Randolph + guide book.

A. Philip Randolph, organizer of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, and vice president of the AFL-CIO, requested that the FBI watch him when he received death threats by mail. The file includes memos and correspondence, most dating from the 1940s with some coverage into the early 1960s.

FBI File: NAACP + guide book.

The file covers from 1941 to 1957 and is officially entitled: FBI File on the communist infiltration of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

FBI File on the Atlanta Child Murders + guide book.

The file dates from June 1980 and contains memos, letters, lab tests, accounts of the trial, and records of civil-rights questions regarding the case raised by Georgia Representative Mildred Glover and others.

FBI file on the Reverend Jesse Jackson + guide book.

Files cover 1967 to 1984 and include Reverend Jesse Jackson’s early career, records of threats made against him, documents from class-action suits in which he joined against the FBI, CIA and City of Chicago, and information regarding the FBI and Secret Service protection of him as a Presidential candidate in 1984.

FBI file on Thurgood Marshall + guide book.

File contains information on Thurgood Marshall’s civil rights activities in Texas during the 1950s, correspondence, background checks and details of the FBI surveillance. It also covers Marshall’s relationship with the FBI and J. Edgar Hoover.

FBI file on W.E.B. DuBois + guide book.

W.E.B. DuBois was investigated by the FBI for suspected Communist ties. In 1951, the Peace Information Center, that he was running, was indicted as a suspected Communist front. The file covers this event through the decade, and includes newspaper clippings.

Federal Writers Project + guide book.

Between 1933-1943 the Federal Writers Project collected life histories of southerners living in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Florida Star, 1956-2001.

Northeast Florida’s oldest African American owned newspaper that covers events in Jacksonville, Florida.

Florida Times-Union Star Edition, Jan. 1, 1950-Dec.31, 1966.

The Star Edition was the African American section of Jacksonville’s Florida Times-Union newspaper.

Freedmen’s Aid Society records, 1866-1932 + guide book.

The records (correspondence and annual reports) of the Freedman’s Aid Society

Jacksonville Free Press, 1991-2001

This newspaper covers events in Jacksonville and Northeast Florida.

Journal of Negro Education. v.1 (1932)-v. 77 (2008).

This is a Publication from the School of Education of Howard University.

Journal of Negro History. v.1 (1916)-v.86 (2001)
Journal of African American History. v.87 (2002)-v.91 (2006)

This journal is a scholarly publication covering black culture and history. It is published by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) and was renamed the Journal of African American History in 2002.

Marcus Garvey: FBI investigation + guide book.

The FBI investigation files on Marcus Garvey and the United Negro Improvement Association.

Martin Luther King, Jr.: FBI assassination file.

The file includes 44,000 pages of documents surrounding the killing of Martin Luther King, Jr. by James Earl Ray. It contains background information on the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement as well as information surrounding the killing of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the conviction of James Earl Ray.

[Miscellaneous Negro newspapers.]

Contains scattered issues of African American newspapers published 1823-1928.

Mother Bethel AME church, 1760-1972.

Contains three record books including minutes of trustees, ledgers, and books relating to leaders and classes of Mother Bethel AME Church, Philadelphia, PA.

Mt. Zion Congregational Church records.

Contains minutes, financial records and loose sheets for Mr. Zion Congregational Church founded in Cleveland, Ohio in 1864.

Negro Digest. v.1 (1942)-v.18 (1969).

Black literary magazine

Negro History Bulletin. v. 1(1937)-v.50 (1987)

Articles on black history

Negro Star

Publication of Baptist State Convention and Auxiliaries of Wichita, Kansas

New Orleans Advocate.

New Orleans Advocate (May 11, 1867-1869), an African American Methodist newspaper.

Papers, 1921-1969 / Countee Cullen + guide book.

The collection includes personal correspondence, documents and papers of Countee Cullen.

Papers of Mary McLeod Bethune, 1923-1942. + guide book.

The film contains Mary McLeod Bethune’s correspondence, invitations to speak, a telegram from Herbert Hoover, two diaries, speeches, photographs, programs, and newspaper clippings.

Papers of Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, 1786-1845 + guide book.

This is a collection of papers of Thomas Fowell Buxton from his college days at Trinity College until his death in 1845. It includes his letters and personal material for his books The African Slave Trade (1939) and the Remedy (1840).

Papers of the American Slave Trade. Series D. Records of the U.S. Customhouses + guide book.

Port of Savannah, Georgia slave manifests, 1790-1860.

Paul L. Dunbar Papers: at the Ohio Historical Society + guide book.

The collection includes Dunbar’s correspondence, scrapbooks, financial records, essays, poems, plays, newspaper clippings and the papers of his wife Alice Ruth Moore.

Proceedings of the National Emigration Convention for Colored People: Held at Cleveland, Ohio on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, the 24th, 25th and 26th of August. 1854.

This document includes the platform, the Constitution of the National Board of Commissioners, and the “Report of the Political Destiny of the Colored People.”

Schomburg Center Collections: Black Newspaper Sample Issues.

This sampler contains selections from 150 African American newspapers in the Schomburg Collection arranged alphabetically by title. Most samples are 20th century newspapers with a few from the 19th century.

Schomburg Center Collections: Blacks in the Railroad Industry.

Minutes of the Negro Railway Labor Executive Committee, memoranda prepared for the 1949 hearings by the House Special Subcommittee on Education and Labor, and pamphlets from black unions. Newsletters, correspondence, lists of Brotherhood Division (Sleeping Cars) unions and some rosters of membership are included.

Schomburg Center Collections: Conrad / Tubman Collection.

The Earl Conrad/Harriet Tubman Collection includes letters, newspaper clippings, manuscripts, and other materials accumulated by Early Conrad while he was preparing his writings for his 1943 biography on Harriet Tubman.

Schomburg Center Collections: John Edward Bruce Collection, Feb. 22, 1856- Aug. 7, 1924.

The collection includes correspondence to and from John Edward Bruce, programs and bulletins, manuscripts, poetry, magazine articles, scrapbooks, and news clippings.

Schomburg Center Collections: Langston Hughes Collection, 1902-1967.

A collection of Langston Hughes’ notes, galley proofs, annotated manuscripts for his poems, plays and literature, articles and copies of his obituaries.

Schomburg Center Collections: National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses records, 1908-1951.

Materials and documents of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses that. Minutes, by-laws and articles of incorporation, correspondence, memoranda, speeches and testimony, studies and reports, publications of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses, and printed material are included.

Schomburg Center Collections. Negro Labor Committee Record Group, 1925-1969 + guide book.

The Negro Labor Committee Record Group consists of the complete office files of the Committee and personal papers of Frank R. Crosswaith, founder and chairman of the Committee.

Schomburg Center Collections. Slavery and Abolition of the Slave Trade, 1700-1890: (manuscript collection) + guide book.

Deeds from slave sales, certificates of registry, passes, wills and speeches, letters in regards to the Amistad Mutiny, and abolition letters are included.

Schomburg Center Collections. Universal Negro Improvement Association, Records of the Central Division, New York, 1918-1959. + guide book.

This is a collection of the records of the Universal Negro Improvement Association of the Central Division of New York which include correspondence and subject files.

Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States, from Interviews with Former Slaves prepared by the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1938, Assembled by the Library of Congress Project, Work Projects Administration for the District of Columbia.

Narratives of former slaves from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio , Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, South Carolina and Texas.

Star of Zion.

Publication of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, 1884-1970.

State Free Negro Capitation Tax Books, Charleston, South Carolina, ca. 1811-1860 + guide book.

This document lists the names of free blacks who lived in Charleston, S.C. between 1811- 1860.

State Slavery Statutes + guide book
State slavery laws from 1789-1865 for Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
U.S. Customs Service Records: Port of New Orleans, LA, Inward Slave Manifests, 1807-1860.

Inward bound slave manifests, 1807-1860 at Port of New Orleans that includes date of arrival, ship captain, name of vessel, port of origin, the slave’s name, sex, age, height, class, and the owner’s name and residence.

U.S. Customs Service Records: Port of New Orleans, LA, Outward Slave Manifests ,1812-1860.

Outward slave manifests from 1812-1860 from Port of New Orleans that includes Port of destination, and a description of the slaves by name, sex, age, height, and class.

Universal Negro Improvement Association Records. 1921-1986. + guide book.

Included among the records are correspondence, reports, conference proceedings, speeches, minutes and ledger books, membership certificates, and other material relating to the Universal Negro Improvement Association. The majority of the collection dates from 1940-1950


  • The first Africans to arrive in what would become Florida were Juan Garrido and Juan Gonzalez Ponce de Leon, free men who accompanied Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513.
  • Spanish and English colonists in north Florida purchased African slaves as a source of cheap labor.


  • The slave traders brought the Africans by ship across the Atlantic Ocean through what became known as the Middle Passage stage of the Atlantic slave trade. The slaves were packed below the ship deck in cramped quarters and unsanitary conditions. Disease and starvation were the main cause of death. Some slaves committed suicide by jumping overboard, others were killed for defiance.


  • In 1738 the Spanish colonial government in Florida established Fort Mose (named after Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose), located 2 miles north of St. Augustine. The fort was the first free black community in North America. Former slaves had to convert to Catholicism in order to settle there.  Life was better under Spanish rule and fugitives fled from the English colonies to the South.
  • Many slaves settled with Native American groups. Some of the Seminoles became masters of the escaped slaves, but the two groups also intermarried. Later, in the first half of the 19th century, the “Black Seminoles” fought in the Seminole Wars against U.S. troops.
  • LaVilla Township was formed by a Spanish land grant to John Jones in 1801. LaVilla would later become an important center for African American culture.


  • By 1808, the import of slaves was prohibited by the U.S. Congress, though it was still legal to own slaves. At that time, Florida was still under Spanish rule and not yet part of the U.S.
  • Negro Fort at Prospect Bluff, along the Apalachicola River, was started by the British in the War of 1812. They recruited slaves and Native Americans and trained them to fight Americans. A thriving community evolved on the site which was viewed as a threat by white landowners. General Jackson sent troops to attack the fort, killing more than 250 Black Seminoles, free blacks and Indians.
  • Slave traders like Zephaniah Kingsley brought slaves into north Florida and smuggled them into Georgia. Zephaniah’s wife, Anna Madgigine Jai, was a slave whom he freed at 13. Zephaniah trained slaves in skills like bricklaying, carpentry and weaving to make them more valuable. In 1820 Anna and Zephaniah Kingsley moved to their Fort George Island plantation north of what would later become Jacksonville. Kingsley stopped slave trade after the United States took control of Florida from Spain in 1821. His Fort George plantation is the oldest plantation house in Florida.
  • In 1822, Jacksonville was established, named after Andrew Jackson, governor of the territory of Florida.


  • The capture of Negro Fort was a factor leading to the Seminole Wars, as the tensions between British allied Native Americans against the American influx into Florida grew.  Jacksonville became a supply depot and port for the U.S. soldiers fighting the Seminoles.
  • Bethel Church was founded in 1838. It was the first church community that was made up of whites and their black slaves. After the Civil War, the white and black communities divided and formed separate congregations known today as First Baptist Church and Bethel Baptist Institutional Church.
  • In 1842, the Seminole Wars ended with the Seminoles giving up their homelands and moved to western reservations. Many former slaves went with them. Jacksonville did not become prosperous until the wars ended and new settlers and tourists arrived. At that point hotels and boarding houses were built, the lumber industry boomed and steamboats traveled the river.
  • Florida became a state in 1845. At that time only white men 21 and over were allowed to vote.


  • In 1861, Florida seceded from the Union. The secessionists believed slavery was necessary for the South’s prosperity and didn’t think the Union had any business telling a state how to govern itself. Florida banded with other southern states in a new government called the Confederacy.
  • Florida sent 16,000 troops to fight for the Confederacy. About 1200 white men and more than 200 black men from Florida were anti-Confederate and fought for the Union Army. Florida served as an important source of cattle, hogs and other food for the confederate soldiers. The rivers and harbors were important for ships trying to get supplies in and out of the state.
  • In 1863, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation that declared the end of slavery in all areas that were in rebellion against the U.S. government.
  • On February 20, 1864, a Union army of about 5,500 men fought  about 5,000 Confederate soldiers in a pine forest near the railroad station at Olustee, Florida, about 12 miles east of Lake City. The Battle of Olustee was the largest Civil War battle fought in Florida. The Confederate troops defeated three black and six white brigades in the battle, including the famous 54th Massachusetts volunteers.
  • When the Civil War ended in 1865, Jacksonville faced many challenges as much of the city was in ruins. Although the slaves were free, most had to work for low wages or a share of the crops.
  • For the first election after the Civil War, the federal government tried to protect black people by stationing federal troops to oversee elections in which the former slaves could vote.
  • For the first time, Jacksonville had black city representatives, as well as firemen and policemen. The Freedman’s Bureau, a federal agency that helped former slaves adjust to freedom, established three schools and a bank in Jacksonville.
  • In 1866 Edward Waters College (named after the A.M.E. bishop) was founded. A few years later, Stanton school was established by a group of local blacks and the Freedman’s Bureau to educate local black children.
  • In 1868, the Fourteenth Amendment was enacted. This amendment guaranteed citizenship to all people born in the United States regardless of race. The same year, Jonathan Gibbs, a minister and educator was appointed Secretary of the State of Florida. He was the state’s first black cabinet official.
  • For several decades the black community thrived in Jacksonville and was home to many great black leaders.
  • James Weldon Johnson, author, teacher, songwriter, and civil rights leader was born in Jacksonville in 1871.


  • In 1880, construction began on structures in the river to protect the harbor and make river navigation easier. A few years later, the Board of Trade was established to start a paid fire department, to pave the streets and make other improvements throughout the city.
  • In 1887, the LaVilla Township and several other suburbs were incorporated into the City of Jacksonville. In the next election, five of the 18 City Council seats were filled by black members of the LaVilla Township: Samuel Dennis, Emmanuel Fortune, Capius M. Vaught, John Spearing and Benjamin Wright. The election was contested, but the Florida Supreme Court ruled the election legal.
  • A massive epidemic of yellow fever broke out in Jacksonville in 1888. More than 4,000 people were infected, with the disease killing about 400 in the end. Many city leaders, including the new mayor, fled Jacksonville. The mayor’s political opponents viewed his flight as an inability to govern the city and asked for help from the state Legislature.
  • In May of 1889, the state Legislature used the mayor’s desertion as a reason to abolish the Jacksonville government and appoint a new council of all white men.
  • 1889 was also the year Civil Rights leader A. Philip Randolph was born in Crescent City, Florida.


  • In 1900 James Weldon Johnson and J. Rosamond Johnson wrote and composed “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing”. The song later became known as the Negro National Anthem.
  • In 8 hours on May 3, 1901, the Great Fire in Jacksonville destroyed 455 acres of the oldest, most populated section of Jacksonville. Before the Great Fire, Jacksonville was a winter tourist center. Although many hotels were rebuilt, the city would never gain its popularity with tourists. It did remain an important business and transportation center.
  • At the time, the population of the city was almost 29,000, more than half of whom were black (16,000).
  • Shortly after the Great Fire, community leaders opened Brewster Hospital to serve the black community. Other residents started pharmacies, groceries, restaurants, saloons, funeral parlors, bicycle and furniture repair shops, and small banks. The numbers of black doctors, lawyers and clergy grew.
  • Created in 1904, the Clara White Mission, led by Clara’s adopted daughter Eartha M.M. White, has provided Jacksonville with mission work and job skill training for those in need for over one hundred years.
  • The film industry flourished in Jacksonville in the early 1900’s. Jacksonville’s Richard E. Norman was one of the few filmmakers who portrayed black people as heroes. Norman made 8 feature films from 1920 through 1928. Most of the Norman films are lost. In 1920, Norman bought a studio in East Arlington area of Jacksonville. Norman Studios were probably the most sophisticated production facility in its day.
  • Ashley Street, between Broad and Davis in the heart of LaVilla, was Jacksonville’s answer to Harlem. From the 1920’s through the 1950’s, the sounds of jazz could be heard each night as musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Count Basie performed.


  • A. Philip Randolph was elected President of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters in 1925.
  • In the twenty years leading up to World War II, Jacksonville grew but blacks and whites lived segregated lives. There were separate schools, clubs, neighborhoods and churches. Black people could not eat in white restaurants, try on clothes in white stores, be admitted to white hospitals or swim in pools or certain beaches.
  • In 1935, American Beach was founded by Abraham Lincoln Lewis. He went on to start the Afro American Insurance Company and the Lincoln Golf and Country Club.
  • Up until the 1940’s, the place to be was Manual’s Tap Room. After the Two Spot opened in 1940, there was a gradual shift away from Ashley Street and urban decay began.
  • A young Ray Charles spent a year playing in pick-up bands on Ashley Street in 1945.
  • In 1946, local attorney D.W. Perkins helped sponsor a lawsuit that resulted in blacks being allowed to vote in the primary elections of the Democratic Party.


  • For more than 50 years, most black and white Americans lived in segregation. Under these enforced conditions our education system was divided by having separate schools for whites and blacks. In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in “Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka” was to overturn legal segregation in the U.S. This decision stated that public schools in the U.S. must be open to children of all races. 1925
  • The development of suburban areas encouraged the mostly white middle class to leave the down town city of Jacksonville, reducing the tax base and leading to funding problems within the city limits.
  • Desegregation did not occur right away. The United States experienced the Civil Rights Movement from 1954-1968.
  • On August 27, 1960 Jacksonville’s Axe Handle Saturday made national headlines after a protest against segregation turned violent. An angry white mob armed with axe handles attacked the black protesters after attempting to sit at a Woolworth’s “whites only” lunch counter.
  • In 1963 and 1964 in St. Augustine, blacks boycotted businesses owned by white people. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders came to St. Augustine in 1964. During a demonstration, many marchers were injured by an angry crowd, and photographs of the confrontation were seen across the country.
  • Congress passed a new Civil Rights Act in 1964 that outlawed discrimination. While this gave any person, regardless of race, sex or religion, the right to use restaurants, hotels and public facilities, this did not resolve racial issues in many parts of the country, including Northeast Florida.
  • In 1967, Mary Singleton and Sallye Mathis became the first female African Americans elected to the City Council of Jacksonville.
  • In 1968, Jacksonville and the county of Duval, minus the Beaches and Baldwin, consolidated into the City of Jacksonville, creating a united government and increasing the tax base, while providing city services for previously unincorporated areas.


  • Leander Shaw became the first black to serve as Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court in 1990.
  • In 1991, Warren Jones was elected first black City Council President.
  • In 1995, Nathaniel Glover became Jacksonville’s and Florida’s first black Sheriff since Reconstruction. Nat Glover also ran against John Peyton for Mayor of Jacksonville in 2003.


  • Alvin Brown was elected Jacksonville’s first black Mayor in 2011.

Suggested Reading:

Bartley, Abel A. Keeping the Faith: Race, Politics, and Social Development in Jacksonville, Florida, 1940-1970, 2000.

Carlson, Amanda B. and Robin Poyner, ed. Africa in Florida: Five Hundred Years of African Presence in the Sunshine State, 2014.

Colburn, David R. and Jane L. Landers, ed. The African American Heritage of Florida, 1995.

Millett, Nathaniel. The Maroons of Prospect Bluff and Their Quest for Freedom in the Atlantic World, 2013. 

Jacksonville Public Library