University of South Florida Debuts New Online Archive on African American History in Florida

The University of South Florida has announced a new online portal that includes hundreds of artifacts that highlight the injustices that affected Black communities and businesses. Some of the items in the archive – which is entitled the African American Experience in Florida – date back to the early 1800s.

The curated collection pulls from decades-old acquisitions and includes unaltered photographs, newspaper archives, and personal narratives. The goal is to continue to build the portal into a larger collection that will help students, educators, researchers, and the general public learn about Black experiences in Florida.

A recent addition to the collection features 3D laser scans of the Jackson Rooming House, which hosted Black travelers and entertainers during the era of racial segregation.

“This project has the potential to bring history to life,” said David Shedden, assistant librarian and head of Special Collections and University Archives at the University of South Florida Nelson Poynter Memorial Library in St. Petersburg. “This collection of stories can help bring all of us into a conversation about the painful history of racism, but also about the inspiring stories of African American communities during the past 150 years.”

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