Category Archives: History

How a grand hotel became the University of Tampa

Pam Iorio, former two-term mayor of Tampa, and current Leader-in-Residence at the John H. Sykes College of Business at the University of Tampa, has been writing about the history of UT for the Tampa Tribune. Her most recent column covers how a hotel became a university. In August she explained how the Plant Hotel came to be owned by the city of Tampa.

Trivia: Pam Iorio’s mother once worked in the library at the University of Tampa! (Then known as the Merl Kelce Library.)

“Tampa Mayor Robert E. Lee Chancey appointed a special committee to determine the best use for the hotel. Spaulding was one of the appointees. There were plenty of suggestions: a home of a permanent exhibit of Florida products, a medical school, even a sanitarium. The idea that finally met with the approval of city officials and the University Board of Trustees was a 10-year lease to The University of Tampa.

“In August 1933, a battered pickup truck came to Hillsborough High School to pick up the few furnishings and records that would comprise the fledgling university. Depositing their meager possessions at the former hotel, the administration of the University of Tampa now had the formidable task of converting a huge, rundown hotel into a suitable venue for their students and faculty.”

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A Bit of History at the Florida State Fair: Or How I Came to Learn About Florida Cowboys and Florida Crackers

Cracker Cowboys

Remington, F. Included in an article entitled, “Cracker Cowboys of Florida” published in Harper’s new monthly magazine v.91, issue 543, August 1895. Retrieved from State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/25893

Over the past weekend I and many others visited the Florida State Fair. This year they had some new exhibits: “Discovery Center” curated by the Tampa Bay History Center and “Florida Agriculture: 500 Years in the Making” from the Florida Department of Agriculture. I also spent some time in Cracker Country happily daydreaming about living a simpler life and actually took the time to read the sign, “What is a Florida Cracker?” Turns out Florida has a long, fascinating and seldom known history of cattle ranching and an equally intriguing local culture called “Florida Crackers.” The term refers to early American settlers to the state and  also denotes native Floridians with longstanding  ancestral roots in the area. While not all “Florida Crackers” were or are cattlemen the two share similar cultural traditions and have become entwined somewhat in popular memory.

Collier, J. (1942). Escambia Farms, Florida. A Florida “cracker” trys to “argue it out” with the sugar ration board. Retrieved February 13, 2013 from the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division Washington, DC 20540 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print

While cattle ranching in Florida has it historical origins with the earliest Spanish settlers, the  Seminole tribe and pre-dates the cowboy of the American West it truly took off in the mid-19th century. From the early 1840s through 1949 Florida’s “Cracker Cowboys” (possibly originating from the sound made by their whips) practiced open range ranching allowing their cattle to freely roam and graze on public lands. The 1949 Florida Fence Law put an end to this practice.

To learn more about Florida’s “Cracker Cowboys” and the broader Cracker culture check out these articles in the JSTOR database (log in through Esearch first):

Denham, J.M.(1994). The Florida Cracker before the Civil War as seen through   travelers’ accounts. The Florida Historical Quarterly, 72(4), 453-468.

Otto, J.S. (1984). Traditional cattle-herding practices in southern Florida. The Journal of American Folklore, 97(385), 291-309.

Otto, J.S.(1984). Florida’s cattle-ranching frontier: Hillsborough County (1860). The Florida Historical Quarterly, 63(1), 71-83.

seminole cattle ranchers

Seminole Indian cowboy Charlie Micco and grandson Fred Smith on horseback in a cattle ranch – Brighton Reservation, Florida 1950. Retrieved February 13, 2013 from State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/69966istorical Quarterly, 63(1), 71-83.

To learn more about the Seminole cattlemen and women of Florida see this article in JSTOR:

Sievers, E., Tepper, C., and Tanner, G.W. (1985). Seminole Indian ranching in Florida.
Rangelands , 7(5),209-211.
Check out The Seminoles of Florida by James Covington from the library.
Read this article in the Seminole Tribune about a cattle ranching exhibit at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum.
For more information and photographs visit, http://www.floridamemory.com/

To visit a living history exhibit check out, http://www.visitcentralflorida.org/destinations/cow-camp-at-lake-kissimmee-state-park

James Morris’ Farewell The Trumpets: An Imperial Retreat

I took a moment to browse the new book shelf here in the library the other day and I noticed a title, James Morris’ Farewell the Trumpets: an Imperial Retreat.

This book caught my eye because I read it for one of my undergraduate history classes. It is great when a book can bring back memories. The class was British Empire history taught by Professor Jo N. Hays at Loyola University. I can remember that class like it was yesterday. Maybe it was so memorable to me because a few days in to the term Professor Hays had a stroke. We had substitute faculty for a few weeks. Eventually Professor Hays returned. Of course, just thinking about those days made me look into what Professor Hays is up to. I am happy to report he is now a Professor Emeritus who still studies and writes on Western imperialism. Indeed it is good to know some things never change! I wonder if anyone else finds it as exciting as I do that the  internet has made it possible for me to check up on my old professor in an instant and to spur great memories? Perhaps I am just a sentimental fool….

In any case, Farewell the Trumpets is part of a three-volume series. If I remember correctly we read the last two volumes.  I feel fortunate to have visited a few of the places mentioned in this work including Hong Kong, Singapore, and Penang, Malaysia.

It might be time for me to re-read Morris’s work, after all, the New York Times Book Review  describes it as “an unorthodox masterpiece, a wise, witty, romantic love-hate affair with a dying empire.”

Interested in checking out Farewell the Trumpets? You can find it on the new book shelf until the end of November (unless it gets checked out). Its call number is: DA 16 .M595 1980. The new book shelf is located directly across from the reference desk by the cozy chairs and lamps – take some time to browse the shelf today…Happy reading!

Farewell The Trumpets: An Imperial Retreat

The Labor Day holiday — born out of a struggle many know little about or recognize

When I was an undergraduate I had a history professor take our class for a tour of the Pullman neighborhood located on the south side of Chicago. It was a great little trip back in history that I recall fondly.

Railroad magnet George Pullman, owner of the Pullman Palace Car Company, built the town of Pullman for his workers in the 1880s. The houses he built for his employees were luxurious for the time as they had gas, indoor plumbing, and connections to sewers.

An economic depression followed the Panic of 1893, orders for Pullman cars dropped off and ultimately resulted in the lay-off and subsequent wage reduction for  many of the Pullman workers. Even though Mr. Pullman knew his employees were living on less he did not reduce the rents of his houses.  Angered over this fact and the general loss of wages, on May 11, 1894 four thousand of the Pullman workers went on strike in protest.

In support of the Pullman workers, labor activist Eugene Debs established a boycott of the movement of Pullman cars throughout the railway systems in the United States and by June 26th 125,000 railroad workers across the US quit their jobs rather than move Pullman cars. You can read more about the Pullman strike in Samuel Yellen’s book American Labor Struggles: 1877 – 1934 (to find this book here you can use the online catalog – don’t know how? This is perfect time to ask a librarian).

After the strike ended in late Summer 1894, President Grover Cleveland and the United States Congress worked together to recognize the efforts of organized labor. This cooperation resulted in the establishment of the federal Labor Day holiday. You can read more about Labor Day and how it has changed over time by viewing the following article using the library database Academic Search Complete:

“The Transformation Of Labor Day.” Wilson Quarterly 16.3 (1992): 13. Academic Search Complete. Web. 29 Aug. 2012.

Here is a list of the databases the library provides. Consider taking some time to browse it. Also, don’t forget to always log-on to Esearch BEFORE attempting your database search.

With one week of the fall semester under you belt it is nice to have a three-day weekend to recover from all that is new. Also, you may want to use the extra day to get ahead on your course work. Whatever you do this Labor Day you can now consider yourself some what knowledgeable about how Labor Day came about.

UT Librarian Art Bagley on FOX News

Librarian Art Bagley appears on FOX News to explain how Kennedy Blvd got its name.

Art also oversees our archival collection and knows pretty much everything there is to know about the history of UT.

The Tampa Bay Hotel: Florida’s First Magic Kingdom

Via the Henry B. Plant Museum’s YouTube page.

New Arrivals: El Lector

A book I read recently, and can highly recommend, is El Lector by Araceli Tinajero.

During the heyday of cigar factories in Ybor City there were men, el lectores, who read to the workers. They read newspapers, magazines, novels, and poetry. They were responsible for keeping the workers informed about what was happening in the world. The workers paid these men, often highly educated scholars, to keep them abreast of the news, and also to keep them entertained with popular works of fiction. Tinajero’s fascinating history takes a look at these men and the culture they created in the cigar factories.

From the publisher’s description: “The practice of reading aloud has a long history, and the tradition still survives in Cuba as a hard-won right deeply embedded in cigar factory workers’ culture. In El Lector, Araceli Tinajero deftly traces the evolution of the reader from nineteenth-century Cuba to the present and its eventual dissemination to Tampa, Key West, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. In interviews with present-day and retired readers, she records testimonies that otherwise would have been lost forever, creating a valuable archive for future historians.

“Through a close examination of journals, newspapers, and personal interviews, Tinajero relates how the reading was organized, how the readers and readings were selected, and how the process affected the relationship between workers and factory owners. Because of the reader, cigar factory workers were far more cultured and in touch with the political currents of the day than other workers. But it was not only the reading material, which provided political and literary information that yielded self-education, that influenced the workers; the act of being read to increased the discipline and timing of the artisan’s job.”

For more summer reading check out our New Book Shelf across from the Reference Desk.

New Arrivals: The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science

The Killer of Little Shepherds was nominated for the Edgar Award in 2011 for Best Fact Crime Book. This true crime history by Douglas Starr traces the murders perpetrated by Joseph Vacher in the late 1800s in France along with the birth of forensic science in Europe.

Vacher, a former member of the French army, became a vagabond in the rural areas of France where he was able to kill undetected because of the lack of a trained local police force. The work of Alexandre Lacassange in autopsies and determining the time and cause of death, Alphonse Bertillon in developing a system of identification for criminals that preceded fingerprinting, and Cesare Lombrosso’s theory of the “born criminal” created a modern, scientific method for tracking down serial killers like Vacher. The work of these early forensic scientists led to Vacher’s eventual capture, trial and execution.

Author: Starr, Douglas P.
Title: The killer of little shepherds : a true crime story and the birth of forensic science
Publisher: A.A. Knopf, 2010.
Location: MAIN
Call Number: KJV131.V33 S73 2010

(Review by criminology librarian Elizabeth Barron)

More About Pirates

By this point you probably already know about the Gasparilla Parade this weekend and Pirate Fest on Friday afternoon. If all this talk about pirates has you wanting to learn more check out the library’s research guide on Piracy in the Caribbean. It will guide you to the best books and journals to start your research. You can find a whole semester’s worth of lectures on pirates, as well as recommendations for movies and fiction.

Want to know more about José Gaspar? Check out “The Legend of Gasparilla: Myth and History on Florida’s West Coast” by Andre-Marcel d’Ans in Tampa Bay History (V.2, #2, Fall/Winter 1980) available in the Periodical section on the first floor. After doing extensive research d’Ans concludes there is no historical evidence for the existence of José Gaspar. For d’Ans the absence of a real Gaspar makes the growth and persistence of the legend even more intriguing.

And don’t forget to check out “Gasparilla: A Tampa Tradition” at the Henry B. Plant museum from January 13 – February 19, 2012.

Using Facebook to Chronicle the Past

A librarian at the University of Nevada at Reno has come up with an interesting way of doing history. Donnelyn Curtis, the director of research collections and services, started a Facebook account for two students who attended the University just before the First World War. Through the Facebook account Curtis is able to post historical images and offer personal accounts of what it was like to be a college student 100 years ago.

“Facebook user “joe1915” writes wall posts that would be familiar to any college student these days: He stresses about tests, roots for his university’s football team, and shows off photos from campus dances.

“But Joe McDonald isn’t an average smartphone-toting student. He died in 1971 — 33 years before Facebook arrived on the Web.” [source]

If you come across anything on the Web or at the University you think we should share on this blog, send me an email at ddavisson AT ut.edu. Thanks for sending this along, Tamara!