Florida’s history came to the forefront on an October 2013 weekend in St. Augustine as 15 authors of the newest Florida history book gathered for a conference and discussion entitled “The History of Florida—Live.”
The event at Flagler College’s Ringhaver Student Center showcased The History of Florida, edited by Michael Gannon, distinguished professor emeritus of history at the University of Florida. The University Press of Florida released it in conjunction with the conference.
Gannon, still an active historian, edited the book’s predecessor The New History of Florida, published in 1996. The event was hosted by the St. Augustine Historical Society and included lectures and roundtable discussions by authors from the fields of history, anthropology, political science, and literature. “I’m really pleased that we’re having this in St. Augustine,” said Susan Parker, executive director of the Historical Society. “It’s a great Florida-wide event.” Susan is a 1992 PhD history graduate of UF.
In addition to professors Gannon and Parker, the conference featured a variety of scholars associated with UF’s history department. Dr. Jane Landers, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of History, discussed free & enslaved Africans & African-Americans during Florida’s colonial period under the control of both Spain and England. Dr. Landers received her PhD from UF in history in 1988. Dr. David Colburn, emeritus professor in the department and former UF Provost, talked about the intersection of 20th century Florida politics and race. Dr. Jack Davis, a professor in UF’s history department, analyzed nature’s place in the long view of Florida history. Dr. Steve Noll, a senior lecturer at UF, moderated each session and commented on the panels and summarized the narrative arc they constructed.
All told, the conference was a well-attended, exciting weekend that highlighted the importance of Florida history and the interest surrounding it. UF scholars provided an important component to the success of the conference, as they continue to publish and discuss the fascinating history of the Sunshine State.