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Tom’s Keys History Blog

Tom Hambright's musings on the rich history of the Florida Keys, with occasional guest posts by other library contributors

[1 Oct 2015 | No Comment | Posted by ]
Before Red Hats, Keys women donned Red Shawls

Well over a century ago, in a period of time referred to by Key Westers as “the Romantic 1800’s”, sponging was a prosperous industry and wrecking provided such a bountiful yield that by 1850 Key West had reached a degree of affluence that made it a wealthy city.
Ships from many countries lined the wharves, their holds laden with provisions and lumber. It was from the wreck of one such vessel, legend has it, that a cargo of red shawls was salvaged and promptly distributed to all the local women folk. …

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[15 Jul 2015 | One Comment | Posted by ]
Solares Hill issues online

What were the pressing issues, outrages, and comic bunglings in the Keys during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s? The Key West Friends of the Library and Cooke Communications funded digitization of our collection of  Solares Hill publications. Now, the Florida Digital Newspaper Library at the University of Florida is hosting the Library’s complete collection.
This image is part of a larger ink drawing by Jerry Miller to accompany an article by Thurlow Weed, “Key West Is Probably Valid”; find it on page 4 of the Summer 1972 issue.
Find more here: http://bit.ly/solareshill

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[5 Jul 2015 | 6 Comments | Posted by ]
From the album: De Wolfe Collection

Scott DeWolfe Collection, a set on Flickr.

Check out our newest, oldest collection of Keys images. The Scott De Wolfe collection contains some of the oldest images of Key West that we’ve seen around. We have  scanned, tagged and captioned this amazing collection and are eager to share it. Here’s more info:

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[22 Jun 2015 | One Comment | Posted by ]

Florida Historian, Tom Hambright, is a big fan of C-Span. Now it appears that C-Span is a big fan of Tom! Check out his recent interview for the Book TV Cities Tour:

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[27 Aug 2014 | No Comment | Posted by ]
Tom talks about Howard England

I first read an article about Howard England and how Admiral Brush, Commander of the Naval Base, in response to a question from Action Line in the Miami Herald “What happened to Fort Taylor?” sent Howard to find the answer. Howard was a Civil Service architect in the Public Works Department of the Naval Station and the Navy’s expert on local history.
He found Fort Taylor covered with sand and material from the property disposal department (a fancy military word for junkyard). He was able to answer the newspaper’s question but …

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[15 Aug 2014 | One Comment | Posted by ]
Honoring Howard England

Saturday, August 16th is officially Howard S. England Day in Key West. One of our finest citizens, Mr. England (1914-1999) was passionate about historical preservation and is considered the “Father of Ft. Zach.” He also created an amazing collection of gingerbread tracings that are in our library archives. Happily, they are all digitized and available online.

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[30 Jul 2014 | One Comment | Posted by ]
Capt. Tony in National Geo

We’re just a little excited that this photo from the library’s archives is featured in the July 2014 issue of National Geographic. If you subscribe to NatGeo, take a look on page 105. You can also read the story and view the photo gallery here.
Library photographs have also found their way into Newsweek, Nature, and Smithsonian magazines, as well as a permanent display at the Smithsonian’s Ocean Hall. Click here to stroll through our entire online gallery.

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[16 Apr 2014 | 2 Comments | Posted by ]
Tom reviews new Keys books

Five new Keys history book were published in the past year.
Thomas Neil Knowles’ Long Key: Flagler’s Island Getaway for the Rich & Famous is published by University Press of Florida. The Long Key Camp was destroyed by the 1935 Hurricane and with it most of the records. Other have tried to write about Long Key and failed became of lack of material. Through extraordinary research, Tom Knowles  has made an exceptional contribution to Keys history with his account of how the rich and famous vacationed and fished in the Florida …

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[18 Feb 2014 | One Comment | Posted by ]
50th Anniversary–Historic Florida History history

Before 1950, the only archives of Key West history were government records or private collections. After the Art and Historical Society was formed in 1950 it maintained a small archives to support the museum. With the founding of the Old Island Restoration Foundation in 1960 it became obvious  that a larger archives was need to support the restoration projects. On February 15, 1964, Monroe County Library Director May Hill Russell formed the Historical Research Committee to act as a single body to compile all the historical material for the city …

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[11 Oct 2013 | 15 Comments | Posted by ]
Founding Document Returns to Key West

In 1823, Commodore David Porter wrote a letter ordering that an American flag be raised at Thompson’s Island (later known as Key West) to establish the Navy’s Anti-Piracy Squadron. That letter is at the centerpiece of an extraordinary, professionally-curated collection of Keys related documents, photographs and memorabilia recently donated to the Florida History department of the Monroe County Public Library.

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