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At the Jacksonville Historical Society, we’re making history every day. Our monthly Speakers Series offers in-depth information on surprising and diverse aspects of our city’s past, and our fun Pop Up events are designed to bring attention to the forgotten history buried in our own back yard. Throughout the year, we also lead countless school groups on “insider tours” of our city’s most significant landmarks and events. Why don’t you join us?

The Mad Atlas of Virginia King
Oct 8 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

The Mad Atlas of Virginia KingBook Launching and Signing at Old St. Andrews!

The Mad Atlas of Virginia King  by Tim Gilmore

with Hurley Winkler and Kiley Secrest


 Listen to Tim Gilmore’s interview with WJCT’s Jessica Palombo as they walk through Riverside and discuss Virginia King.

Virginia King wrote an 8,448-page highly inaccurate book about her hometown of Jacksonville. The title was almost as long. She said her brother was dead. He said he’d never heard of her. Always dirt poor, she called the wealthiest people in the city “my little friends.” From 1915 to 2001, Virginia lived in 18 different residences, mostly in Riverside, and residents who remember her call her a “Riverside character.”

Virginia King in front of the Carnegie Library as the Hayden Burns Library is under construction.

Virginia King in front of the Carnegie Library as the Hayden Burns Library is under construction.

This new nonfiction novel about Virginia King includes reminiscences from local residents Helen Lane, Wayne Wood, Sarah Van Cleve, Pokey Towers Lyerly, Elizabeth Towers, Charlie Towers, Jerry Ferguson, Joel McEachin, and many others. The book celebrates the strange treasures of the Jacksonville Historical Society archives.

The book includes meaningful musings by Hurley Winkler, of Perversion Magazine and Swamp Radio, and hand-drawn maps by Springfield resident and architectural portraitist Kiley Secrest. Though she got so much of Jacksonville’s history wrong, her work touches innumerable aspects of it, and her devotion and commitment are perhaps unmatched. When Reverend Tom Are gave Virginia’s eulogy, he said, “It seems to me that Virginia King served as something of a prophet in our town.”

The reception and book signing will begin at 6:30pm. Dr. Gilmore will present his findings on Jacksonville’s unique character, Virginia King, at 7pm.

Dr. Gilmore is the author of several books, including In Search of Eartha White, Storehouse for the People (2014), Stalking Ottis Toole: A Southern Gothic (2013) and This Kind of City: Ghost Stories and Psychological Landscapes (2012). He’s the creator of Jax Psycho Geo, which features nearly 250 stories about significant places across Jacksonville, Florida. He teaches Literature and Composition at Florida State College at Jacksonville.


This program and the 2015-16 JHS program series is generously sponsored by Retina Associates, P.A., Dr. Fred H. Lambrou, Jr.

Pop-Up History Event: History, Mystery & Beer
Nov 3 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm


DON’T MISS the next spectacular and fun historical pop-up event Tuesday, November 3 at AARDWOLF Brewing Company.

popupeventSeveral times a year, the Jacksonville Historical Society stages a “pop-up history” event. These events combine the element of mystery, surprise, beer drinking, and social media to educate the public about important but relatively unknown facets of Jacksonville’s history. Please visit the History, Mystery & Beer Facebook page for more information.

Admission is free, but a donation of $5 to the Jacksonville Historical Society is suggested at the door.

This event is a joint production of the Jacksonville Historical Society and PB&J (Party, Benefit & Jam).


  • When: Tuesday, November 3 from 6 – 8pm
  • Food: On The Fly Food Truck
  • Time: 6pm – 8pm
  • Where: AARDWOLF Brewing Company, 1461 Hendricks Ave, Jax FL 32207
  • There will be a 20 minute program at 7pm.
  • On the Fly food truck will begin service at 6pm at the brewery.
  • Only adults 21 and over can attend.
  • Guests will purchase beer in the tap room only.
  • A donation of $5.00 to the JHS is suggested at the door.
  • On November 2 (tonight!), we will reveal the actual title of the event here!.


Historic Jacksonville Theatre Palaces, Drive-Ins and Movie Houses
Jan 25 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm

Lights, camera, action!

Join the Jacksonville Historical Society Monday, January 25 for a reception and program on Jacksonville’s theatre and performance history. The evening will begin with a reception at 6:30pm with the program to follow at 7pm. Author and speaker Dorothy K. Fletcher will present the theatres, drive-ins and movie houses that brought entertainment to Jacksonville citizens. FletcherBookSome have passed into memory. The Dixie Theatre, originally part of Dixieland Park, began to fade in 1909. The Palace Theatre, home to vaudeville acts, was torn down in the ’50s. The Alhambra has been everyone’s favorite dinner theatre since 1967’s debut of Come Blow Your Horn.

Local author Dorothy K. Fletcher revives the history of Jacksonville’s theatres in her new book Historic Jacksonville Theatre Palaces, Drive-Ins and Movie Houses,dorothyfletcher published in 2015. Mrs. Fletcher retired from the Duval County Public School System in 2007 after thirty-five years of teaching English classes. She was then able to  embrace her passion – writing. Her monthly column, “By the Wayside,” which she wrote for the Florida Times-Union, led to a series of history books she has written about her beloved home, Jacksonville, Florida. She and her husband, Hardy, love traveling and hanging out with their grandchildren.


** Due to illness, the original program scheduled for January 25th, “The History of Jacksonville’s Jewish Community” with Marcia Jo Zerivitz will be rescheduled for a later date.**

This program and the 2015-16 JHS program series is generously sponsored by Retina Associates, P.A. Dr. Fred H. Lambrou, Jr.

Ribault to the Revolution
Feb 29 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Shipwreck Archaeology at the St. Augustine Lighthouse


Chuck Meide, Director of the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP), offers updates o the search for the lost ships in Jean Ribault’s fleet. He’ll also focus on a major underwater wreck dating to Revolutionary War years that has yielded extraordinary finds — everything except the ships name! Near the end of the American Revolution, the ship out of Charleston was on its way to St. Augustine filled with fleeing loyalist escaping to British East Florida. Meide believes the ship stopped in route to St. Augustine at St. Johns Town, a town of British loyalist located at St. Johns Bluff about six miles from the St. Johns River mouth. Later, the ship sunk as it approached St. Augustine’s treacherous inlet.

An Atlantic Beach, Florida native, Chuck Meide attended Florida State University, receiving both his bachelor and master degrees in anthropology with a focus on underwater archaeology. He is currently Chuckcompleting his PhD through the College of William and Mary. Meide has participated in and supervised a wide variety of maritime archaeological projects, including investigations of submerged prehistoric hunting and occupation sites; 16th and 17th century Spanish galleon wrecks; Confederate ironclad and Union supply ship wrecks; the earliest Western river steamboat excavation by archaeologists; and La Salle’s ship la Belle lost in 1686.


This event is open to the public. A suggested donation for non-members is $5, unless a student with an I.D.


This program and the 2015-16 JHS program series is generously sponsored by Retina Associates, P.A. Dr. Fred H. Lambrou, Jr.


Jacksonville’s Jewish History
May 24 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Bazaar in YHMA 1916

Bazaar at the Young Hebrew Men’s Association in 1916.

CohensEntr 4x5

Entrance to Cohen’s Department Store in Jacksonville, Jacksonville Historical Society Collection.

Throughout Jacksonville history, Jewish families have been immersed in city commerce, government and the community’s cultural life. In fact, prior to the 1930’s, Jacksonville’s Jewish population was the largest in Florida. Eventually, Miami took the lead. January speaker Marcia Jo Zerivitz features the city’s Jewish history and the important “firsts in Florida” that happened in Jacksonville.

About the Speaker

Marcia Jo Zerivitz, Founding Executive Director of the Jewish Museum of Florida, has been a leader in the American and Floridian Jewish communities for 50 years with a specific focus on museums and Florida Jewish history for the past 26 years. Marcia Jo retired from JMOF on marciaheadshot2011-forwebOctober 1, 1011. Beginning in 1985, Marcia Jo traveled around Florida to research and retrieve the state’s unknown Jewish history, created a collection and a storyline of Jewish life in Florida and helped develop the MOSAIC exhibit that traveled to thirteen cities (1990-1994).

In 1985, under her direction, this project evolved into the Jewish Museum of Florida, now housed in two restored former synagogues, on the National Register of Historic Places. JMOF collects, preserves and interprets 250 years of the Jewish experience in Florida in the context of American and world Jewish history, art and culture and also to reflect the immigration experience of all Americans.

In 2012, the partnership with Florida International University was finalized, resulting in JMOF-FIU.

Marcia Jo frequently lectures on topics related to discrimination and Florida Jewish history, which she originally collected, compiled and documented, and consults and conducts workshops nationally for non-profits, including museums, on strategic planning, collections, exhibitions, non-profit governance and management, adaptive reuse of historic structures and fundraising.

She initiated the legislation for both a Florida Jewish History Month (January) and a Jewish American Heritage Month(May) to increase awareness of the contributions by Jews to the state and nation. In May 2010, 2011 and 2012, Marcia was invited to President Barack Obama’s White House receptions for Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM). On behalf of the Board of JMOF, she loaned the original 2006 Presidential Proclamation for JAHM to Jewish astronaut Dr. Garrett Reisman to take on the Atlantis Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station in May 2010 and in August 2010, Reisman returned the document to her. Marcia serves on the Board for Jewish American Heritage Month.

Marcia wrote (with co-author) Florida Jewish Heritage Trail, published by Florida Dept. of State (250 sites in 44 cities with Jewish historical significance). Marcia authored all of the Florida entries for the Encyclopedia Judaica and her scholarship has been used in films and books, including by Brandeis University Press; she has been published internationally. In 2009, her photodocumentary book, Jews of Greater Miami, was released.

Banned in Jacksonville: What book are you missing?
Sep 29 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

According to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom(OIF), “hundreds of books are challenged in schools and libraries in the United States each year. A challenge is an WH_BannedBooksattempt to remove or restrict materials, while a banning reflects the actual removal of those materials”. 275 challenges were recorded nationally during 2015. The OIF staff believes far more challenges occur, however, because reporting is not mandatory in all states.

In the Duval County School System alone, 300 book challenges have been reported from 1978 – 2012. The Jacksonville Public Library reports 70 challenges to materials (books, DVDs, etc.) since 2000.

Leslie Kirkwood, Chair of  Banned: A Community Conversation about Censorship and Free Speech will present crucial history and background and Barbara A. B. Gubbin, Director of Jacksonville Public Library in this important conversation.  The presentation also incorporates performances by Jason Woods, actor/director. The presentation will also highlight the history of the Nazi-era censorship and its relevance today; Banned Books Week; a review of national, local public school and public library challenges; and a discussion of First Amendment rights.

Leslie Kirkwood is is a current chair of Banned: Censorship and Free Speech (a series of public programs—community conversations—that examines the delicate balance between censorship and free speech) and Remembering for the Future Community Holocaust Initiative (an organization that focuses attention on Holocaust education and remembrance through educational resources, teacher training, major exhibitions and community programs.). She is also the Vice-President of Urban Dynamics Corporation, a member of the Friends of the Jacksonville Public Library and the former Executive Director of the Jacksonville Public Libraries Foundation.

The reception begins at 6:30pm with the program to follow at 7pm. Both events will be held at Old St. Andrew’s, 317 A. Philip Randolph Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32202.

Free parking is available in the lot behind the Merrill House and Old St. Andrew’s, along Duval Street.
Security will be on duty.
Your guests are welcome.
A suggested donation for non-members is $5, students free with proper ID.

This program and the 2016-17 JHS program series is generously sponsored by Retina Associates, P.A. Dr. Fred H. Lambrou, Jr.

Florida’s Fleet: A Shrimping Legacy from the First Coast
Mar 30 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Shrimp boats in Jacksonville, Florida. © Florida Memory

The Jacksonville Historical Society and Brendan Burke, author and underwater archaeologist with the St. Augustine Historical Society and Museum‘s research center LAMP, will present a program on Florida’s Fleet: A Shrimping Legacy from the First Coast on Thursday, March 30th beginning with a reception at 6:30pm followed by the program at 7pm.

During the early 20th century, a new type of boat was born in Northeast Florida. Forged from Greek, Italian, Norwegian, African-American, and native Floridian hands, the Florida-style trawler became one of the most important boats in the state’s history. From 1919 until the mid-1980’s, Florida supplied the world with shrimp trawlers and commercial fishing boats of all types. In Northeast Florida, the enterprise grew into a multi-billion dollar industry that contributed to over 23 foreign fishing fleets. Ultimately, Florida would be responsible for the largest purpose-built wooden fishing fleet ever assembled.

We ask that you register for the event via Eventbrite. Please click the ticket icon above to register for you seat. You may also email or phone the society to make your reservation.

About the speaker

Brendan Burke, Archaeologist and Logistical Coordinator with LAMP.

Brendan Burke is a maritime archaeologist at the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum in the museum’s research wing, the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP). Since 2007, he has researched the commercial shrimping history of Florida, and in 2013 co-authored Shrimp Boat City with Ed Long, a St. Augustine native. When he is not researching commercial fishing, Brendan may be found underwater or onboard the research vessel ROPER, diving and excavating a shipwreck from the American Revolution off St. Augustine’s beach. He holds a B.A. in history/anthropology from Longwood University and an MA in historical archaeology from The College of William and Mary.

Emerging Florida and the Women Who Changed the World
Sep 14 @ 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm

Join the Jacksonville Historical Society and speaker and JHS Past-President Susan Caven on Thursday, September 14th at noon at Old St. Andrew’s for Emerging Florida and the Women Who Changed the World.

Ximenz-Fatio House in the mid-1880s. Image belongs to the Ximenz-Fation House Museum.

In 1821, when Florida became part of the United States, northerners began traveling to St. Augustine to see the exotic new territory. Margaret Cook, an entrepreneurial widow, purchased the solidly built Ximenez building and operated it as an elegant inn. She was the first of several refined female owners who, with good household management skills, accommodated a sophisticated northern clientele. Speaker Susan Caven will talk about the women associated with the one-time inn, now a museum, who helped create the foundation of the hospitality industry and modern tourism—the backbone of Florida’s economy.

The property today, the Ximenez-Fatio House Museum, is proudly owned and operated as a museum by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Florida; Susan Caven is a Past President of the formidable and insightful group of women. Susan is also Past-President of the Jacksonville Historical Society, Greenscape and Scenic Jacksonville. She is a former Chair of the Jacksonville Landmarks Commission.

Desserts and drinks will be provided. Please feel free to bring a brown bag lunch.

Winterling and Weather: A North Florida View
Sep 26 @ 6:30 pm – 8:15 pm

George Winterling, Channel 4 meteorologist, reports on Hurricane Dora’s maneuvers, 1964.

In 1962, when George Winterling began as a meteorologist with Channel 4 television, broadcasts were black and white and reporting was live—no video tape. Prior to his 47 year career at WJCT, Mr. Winterling worked as a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jacksonville. In 1964, he accurately predicted Hurricane Dora would hit North Florida. He’s also known for creating a humiture index—how hot it feels—today used nationwide and beyond as the”heat-index.” Rainfall predictability was another Winterling creation. He recalls television’s earliest Jacksonville broadcasts in 1949. So eager to see more, later as a student of Florida State University, he mounted an antenna on the chimney and watched Bill Grove’s “Eye on the News” from Tallahassee. By the time he retired from Channel 4 in 2009, he was a Jacksonville institution. In this presentation, you’ll learn more about Mr. WInterling-known to all as George-and more about North Florida’s weather history.

About the speaker

Born in New Jersey in 1931, George Winterling moved with his family to Jacksonville at age 10. He graduated from Lee High School. In 1949, he joined the United States Air Force and was sent to Weather Observers School at Chanute Air Force Base in Illinois. He eventually trained at Shemya Air Force Base in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands where he observed the Pacific’s killer storms. In 1957, he earned a meteorology degree from Florida State University and was employed for five years by the U.S. Weather Bureau (now called the National Weather Service) until he was pivotal in convincing Channel 4, they needed a meteorologist. A Mandarin resident, he married his wife Virginia in 1956.

Digging for our history: The Jacksonville Wall Project
Apr 19 @ 7:00 pm

April’s Lecture Series event at the Jacksonville Historical Society will feature George R. Burns, Vice-President of the Cowford Archaeological Research Society (CARS), speaking on the Jacksonville Wall Project.

CARS has been at work on locating and identifying evidence of the security wall built by the U.S. Army around Jacksonville during the U.S. Civil War. Recently CARS and the Jacksonville Historical Society collaborated in the establishment of an historical marker at the site of Ft. Hatch, a strongpoint in the Jacksonville Wall.

Mr. Burns, of Jacksonville, holds an MA in anthropology, and is a member of the Register of Professional Archaeologists.

Social half-hour with light refreshments begins at 6:30, and the program begins at 7:00 PM.
*This event is free for members, we ask non-members for a donation of $5

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