J. Michael Francis spent nearly a decade combing through thousands of scribbled notes, ship logs and dusty relics to chronicle Florida’s Spanish past. He hoped that one day he could bring that once hazy picture into sharp focus.
For the chair of the Florida Studies program at University of South Florida St. Petersburg, that day was Thursday (3/15/2018), when the website, La Florida: The Interactive Digital Archive of the Americas, was formally unveiled.
Francis and his team have identified more than 13,000 of Florida’s earliest colonial settlers, representing men and women from the Americas, Africa and Europe. And they weren’t only from Spain — some came from Portugal, Greece, Italy, Holland, Belgium, France, Germany and Croatia.
We catch up with Michael Francis and local historian Scott Grant at the Ponte Vedra Cultural Center giving a presentation on this digital archive and sharing some wonderful information on things found on it.
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