In their own words

The best kind of history? First-hand from people who lived it. You get a feeling for the times, see events through borrowed eyes, and have the opportunity to experience what life back then was like for those who lived through it. And the interviewers, who took the time and effort to create a slide show with photographs and other memorabilia, made these oral histories entertaining and enlightening. Enjoy

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Help the History Center

Love local history? Get into it up to your elbows, suggests Marsha Fottler, President of the Historical Society.

Click to learn all the various aspects of volunteering at the county’s Historical Resources.

When important documents and artifacts are donated to the Historical Society of Sarasota County, we bring them to the History Center, where professionals can conserve and store them. Why? Because we do not have the proper security, climate control, or storage space to professionally archive these heritage things. At the History Center many items are digitalized and all are categorized and preserved in a way that the public can have access to them for personal or academic research.  Many members of the Historical Society enjoy volunteering at the History Center and click here for some areas that could have appeal. Volunteering at the History Center is a way of learning more about the history of Sarasota County and you’ll meet new friends who feel the same way.

Marsha Fottler, President HSOSC

More about how you can help and learn.

Recycling… the Historic way!

We’re very excited to be joining forces with Historical Resources and Archives, commonly called The History Center, to offer our county an easy way to donate ephemera that you may have lying around, and never dreamed anyone would value it.

Ephemera! Stuff published once, meant for the moment… only now YOU

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What the “Real Florida” looks (and feels) like

If you want to experience what this area looked like before you got here, try an EcoWalk.

Book yourself into some nature walks with knowledgable guides from UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County. They provide “practical education you can trust, to help people, businesses and communities solve problems, develop skills and build a better future. This service is a partnership between the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Sarasota County.”

Click the pic to see Eventbrite’s listings (tours are free but space-limited.)

Note that the tours pause in summer and begin again the fall. Yup. It’s too dang hot to be out in the sun in the summer. There’s a history lesson right there.

May we offer an alternative?

Afternoons at the Mansion in Phillippi Estate Oark, 5500 S Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, on Sunday Feb. 20 2022, a presentation on the Lost Towns of Sarasota County by HSoSC Advisory Board member Kate Holmes. A fund-raiser to help create a History Museum in the Keith Farmhouse, built 1915. It starts at 2 PM, seating is extremely limited, and you can get your tickets from the County by calling 941-861-7275.

Being super-cautious, the Board has canceled February ‘s Conversation at The Crocker as well as February’s Sunday Afternoon Social.

We are still holding Sparkly Saturday on Sat. Feb. 12, which is both indoors in well-ventilated space and outdoors on our Porch,

Sparkly Saturday is a wonderful pre-loved jewelry sale in the Crocker Memorial Church, and a Tag Sale on the Bidwell-Wood House Porch. Parking and admission are free, and the sale runs from 8am to 2pm on Saturday February 12.

and our traditional Historical Sarasota Bay Cruise on March 6 (spots filling up since we’re limiting numbers; get your reservations in NOW by calling Linda M-F 10 to 2 at 941-364-9076 or emailing hsosc1@gmail.com)…

The Historical Society of Sarasota County has presented our Historic Sarasota Bay cruise for over 25 years.
The Historical Society of Sarasota County has presented our Historic Sarasota Bay cruise for over 25 years. This year we are limiting the number of passengers and providing Snack Bites rather than open food on our buffet, and the weather’s always fine. Call Linda in our Campus Office M-F 10 to 2, at 941-364-9076 to assure your spot!

We’re happy to announce a peer event: Afternoons at the Mansion is a GO.

The Keith Mansion in Phillippi Estate Park at 5500 S. Tamiami Trail, was built by a Chicago couple in 1916. The Mansion itself is amazing, and in the classic living room they are presenting Lost Towns of Sarasota County with Kate Holmes, an HSoSC past Board member. This is not an HSoSC event, but it is sponsored by our peers and supporters, a not-for-profit formed to raise money to help fund a future local history venue in the neighboring the Edson Keith Farmhouse (1915). 

Again, limited numbers admitted to the Mansion so reserve NOW. Call 941-861-7275 to reserve your seat.

The Historical Society’s current Calendar of Events can always be seen on our Events Page here.

January Local History Events

I’m feeling bad about leaving you in the lurch here at the Historical Society of Sarasota County, what with our two upcoming events (Conversation on Jan 11 and Sunday Afternoon Social on Jan 16) being cancelled, so here’s some substitutes to keep you and your brain occupied until we meet again.

Exercise your

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Walking tour of Granada Neighborhood

Time for #whattodothisweekend, brought to you by the Historical Society of Sarasota County. See more, each week, on our Facebook page.

Saturday morning, join our historic peers, the Sarasota Alliance for Historic Preservation, on their hour-long walking tour of the Granada neighborhood. Admission is $25.

And don’t forget, next Tuesday, November 9 (finally, our first since 2020!), is our Conversation at the Crocker at 7PM in the historic Crocker Memorial Church, 1260 12th Street, Sarasota. Free to members (you can join at the door) and $10 to not-yet members. This month’s topic.

Centennial Celebration Video

As we celebrate the county’s centennial year, each historic group was tasked with creating something that would entertain and educate the public. Kathryn Chesley, member of the Board of Directors at the Historical Society, wrote and directed a play reading which was then video-taped for easy sharing. President Marsha Fottler says: “WKathryn Chesleye are ready with the production and our organization’s contribution to the Centennial celebration.” Here’s the details:
Title: The Roads We Took to Sarasota County
Run time: 1 hour
Available by: Contacting the Historical Society of Sarasota County
                     Available to any organization who plans to use it with a Centennial event
Cost: Donation to the Historical Society of Sarasota County, There is no set amount for the donation. It is whatever the organization wishes to donate
To use: Contact Linda Garcia, manager of Historical Society who will provide a way to unlock the link to the video. Organization can then use the video.
Contact phone number: 941-364-9076
In Addition:
The play will be shown on Tuesday, November 9, at 7:00pm at the Crocker Memorial Church, 1260 12th Street, Sarasota, Fl. The actors will be present as well as Kathryn Chesley, the writer and director along with Frank Cassell, from whose book the facts were taken.

You, too, can make history.

How do we know what we know?

Research. And more research. And double-checking to make sure that what we present to the reading/ viewing audience is not only correct, but applicable to the topic we’re discussing,

Best resources for getting the facts, and the tone, of past happenings right? Primary sources. And guess what?

You. Are. A. Primary. Resource.

That diary you kept in grade school (or did you call it elementary school, or primary school? Your diary might be the crucial clue for regional word choice.)

Example of a family photo to be used as a primary source by historians

Family photos give real-life clues about fashion.

Your college transcript, the photos of your first car in front of your first apartment. Your snaps of the relatives at a wedding. Maybe even those films of the Christmas parade or the audio tapes of your uncles reminiscing about ice-fishing on the Great Lakes.

You can digitize old papers (here’s how if you use a MAC computer and here’s how if you have Adobe Acrobat), transcribe your (admittedly less-than-Palmer-Method) handwriting into text, make sure those generation-back relatives’ images are correctly captioned. You can contact the historical society or government archives* in the town you grew up in/ camped near/ visited, to ask what they can use.

You can even help preserve web pages for future researchers. It’s as easy as a few clicks. Read how on The Wayback Machine.

Interested in preserving physical artifacts for your family? Explore our series You Can Do It.

* We at the Historical Society of Sarasota County do not have the resources to preserve artifacts. A guide to what the Venice Museum and Archives can accept is here. Sarasota County’s Historical Resources contact info is here. Florida Memory is interested in some items as well; read their FAQs here.

Back to school, thanks to Mary McLeod Bethune

Back-to-school comes earlier in the year for teachers than students, so let’s take a moment to give seasonal honors to

…Author, educator, and African American Civil Rights leader, Mary McLeod Bethune, was born in Mayesville, South Carolina in 1875. The fifteenth child of former slaves, Bethune knew from a young age that education was the key to success. She attended Scotia Seminary School, and the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. Bethune moved to Palatka, Florida, in 1899 and began teaching.
She moved to Daytona in 1904, and in October of that year opened the Literary and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls. She worked tirelessly to keep the school open by gaining support from wealthy benefactors, many from outside Florida.
In 1931 the school was merged with the Cookman Institute, establishing a coeducational junior college known as Bethune-Cookman College (now University). She was involved in a number of civic groups including the National Council of Negro Women, the National Youth Administration (a WPA program), the National Association of Colored Women, the Federal Council of Negro Affairs, and many others. She was a close friend of President Franklin and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and devoted her life to the education and betterment of African Americans.

from Jax Examiner

More on Mary McLeod Bethune:

From National Women’s History Museum
and PBS’s American Experience
and Bethune-Cookman University
and Biography.com

More on African American schools in Florida history:

From Orange County Regional History Center
and Palm Beach County History
and a video from 10 Tampa Bay’s “Deep Dive” on current, 2020, teaching of Black history