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2012-2013 Distinguished Lecture Series

Menéndez: Claiming La Florida for King & Cross...with Chaz Mena

El Adelantado Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, Governor of the recently settled land of La Florida, founder of St. Augustine, admiral to both the late Charles V-God Save His Memory!-and the recent King of Spain, Phillip II, sits down for an interview about his life.


Dr. J. Michael Francis Lecture: Finding Ponce: Myth, History, and the Quest for the Fountain of Youth

Dr. Francis explores the early decades of Spanish Florida history, from Juan Ponce de León's 1513 expedition to the foundation of St. Augustine more than five decades later. It reveals a story that is ultimately far more rich than the many foundation myths that dominate our understanding of the period.


Juan Riera Lecture: The 16th Century Maritime World of La Florida

Juan Riera explores the role of ships, sailors, and mariners in the exploration, conquest, and settlement of Florida. Included will be information on the likes of Juan Ponce de Leon, Pedro Menendez de Aviles, Jean Ribault, and Hernando de Soto. The role of ships for communication, supplies, and every necessary aspect for survival will be discussed as well the need for Florida to be settled as a way of protecting shipping that was vital for the Spanish Empire. And conversely the decline of Spanish naval power in Florida allowing other European powers to flourish.


Dr. Ginger Pedersen & Janet DeVries Lecture:
Pioneering Palm Beach: The Deweys and the South Florida Frontier

Palm Beach’s sunny and idyllic shores had humble beginnings as a wilderness of sawgrass and swamps only braved by the hardiest of souls. Two such adventurers were Fred and Byrd “Birdie” Spilman Dewey, who pioneered in central Florida before discovering the tropical beauty of Palm Beach in 1887. Though their story was all but lost, this dynamic couple was vital in transforming the region from rough backcountry into a paradise poised for progress. Authors Ginger Pedersen and Janet DeVries trace the remarkable history of the Deweys in South Florida from their beginnings on the isolated frontier to entertaining the likes of the Flaglers, Vanderbilts, Phippses, Cluetts, Clarkes and other Palm Beach elite. Using Birdie’s autobiographical writings to fill in the gaps, Pedersen and DeVries narrate a chapter in Florida’s history that has remained untold until now. 


Annie Francis Lecture: Beyond Lizards, Snakes, Rats, and Inedible Roots: A Guide to Eating in Colonial Florida

Based on careful examination of Colonial documents from the Library of Congress to the Archive of the Indies, food inventories from the time and archaeological discoveries, Annie Francis will present an intriguing Colonial Florida menu comprised of authentic ingredients. Francis will explain the variety of available ingredients in early Florida kitchens, the diverse cultures and traditions from which those ingredients came, and how they merged together to write Florida's chapter in the larger Columbian Exchange.


Author-historian James D. Snyder Lecture: The Cross and the Mask

As Florida enters the 500th year of its “discovery,” much ado will be made of the founding of St. Augustine - “America’s oldest city.” But in The Cross and the Mask, you’ll learn of the much different outcome when the Spaniards attempted to “settle” the fierce and truculent Calusa of South Florida. The book’s title symbolizes the severe clashes that erupted over religion, food, weapons, women and many other friction points between two proud civilizations. Yes, the Spanish would eventually prevail over the next two centuries, but not upon this ill-fated incursion to South Florida. The Cross and the Mask, by local author-historian James D. Snyder, is written as historical fiction but adheres closely to historical and archaeological fact.

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