Since its inception, Florida State University has been involved in teaching high school aged students in addition to college students. When the legislature voted in 1851 to create two institutions of higher learning in Florida, Tallahassee began to organize a bid to have one of the schools established in town.
They began by building a structure known as the Florida Institute which began holding classes in 1855. The Florida Institute was not exclusive to higher education. High school students were taught here as well. The city offered this structure, as well as a monetary incentive, to the legislature and won the bid to create the new school. The Florida Institute became the West Florida Seminary in 1857 but continued to educate high school students as well as college students.
It wasn’t until 1954 that the high school department got its own building on campus. The Florida State University School, or FSUS, was created and more commonly known as “Florida High”. The school taught children grade levels K-12. Students from FSU and FSCW Education program interned at this school as part of their studies. In 2001, Florida High moved to a different location, off of FSU’s campus. Despite the move, Florida High maintains its close connection with FSU and, especially, the College of Education.
FSU Libraries is beginning the process of digitizing the collection and the first batch of records – issues of the student newspaper The Trident – is now live in our digital library. The collection can be accessed here. Those looking to donate material to add to our Florida High Collection should contact Sandra Varry at email@example.com.
We are saddened to hear of Dr. Nancy Marcus’ passing this last Monday.
Dr. Marcus served at FSU in several roles for 30 years. During her tenure, she served as the director of the Marine Laboratory, chair of the Department of Oceanography, and as Dean of the Graduate School from 2005 until her retirement in 2017. Dr. Marcus was named a Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor in 2001, the highest honor that FSU faculty can award one of their own. Dr. Marcus noted that this award was important to her because it not only recognized her contributions in research and teaching, but also her service to the university.
A pioneer in the field of Oceanography when there were few women in the field, Dr. Marcus worked her entire career to promote diversity in FSU and especially the STEM fields so that others would be allowed the same opportunities to have a rewarding career. She served as the director for FSU women in Math, Science and Engineering to promote women in STEM fields and took every opportunity to advance the cause of women in these disciplines. She even gave up a chance to pursue her own research on copepods (a type of crustacean) to focus in on the advancement of women.
Heritage & University Archives recently acquired a collection of materials from Dr. Marcus regarding the Task Force on Women’s Faculty Salaries, a task force that she participated in. Those interested in learning more about Dr. Marcus and the collection should contact Heritage & University Archives by emailing Sandra Varry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This blog post is an updated version of a previous post by Hannah Wiatt Davis which can be found here.
Happy 167th Birthday, Florida State University! In 1851, the first steps were taken by the Florida Legislature (then the General Assembly of the State of Florida) to create the institution we now know as Florida State University. However, it wasn’t until recently that 1851 was accepted as the founding date. Previously, FSU had used 1857, when the State Seminary West of the Suwannee River, the predecessor institution of FSU, first opened its doors. However, the 1857 date isn’t entirely accurate. The process of starting the school began long before students were allowed to study here.
On January 24, 1851, the General Assembly of the State of Florida passed an act establishing two seminaries of learning, one to the east and one to the west of the Suwannee River. It wasn’t until 1854 when the Tallahassee City Council offered to pay $10,000 to finance a new school building on land owned by the city in an attempt to “bid on” being the location of the seminary west of the Suwannee, which the legislature had yet to decide. The $10,000 consisted of the value of the property, the yet-to-be-constructed building, and the remaining balance in cash. Approximately $6,000 was originally committed, with the Council promising to give the city the remaining balance if Tallahassee was determined as the final location. Later in 1854, construction on a school building began and Tallahassee’s city superintendent approached the state legislature to present the case for the seminary to be in Tallahassee. However, state officials failed to make a decision regarding the location of the seminary before the end of the legislative session.
By 1855, the newly constructed building, which was often described as “the handsomest edifice” in Tallahassee, was ready for students. Because of the state legislature’s lack of a decision on whether it would be one of the legislature-designated seminaries, it was not given an official name. Instead, it was alternately called “The City Seminary” and “Tallahassee Male Seminary.”
In 1856, the ball got rolling as the City Council of Tallahassee (hereafter referred to as the Board of Trustees of the Florida Institute) met and designated “The City Seminary” as the “Florida Institute.” It also indicated that “government of the institution or seminary shall be under the direction of a president” and decided that “a preparatory school will be established in connection with the academic or collegiate department of the institute.” It was established that one of the president’s duties would be to publish a “Catalogue Course of Studies” for the institution. Later in 1856, William (W.Y.) Peyton, previously principal of The City Seminary, was unanimously elected by the Board of Trustees of the Florida Institute as the first president of the Institute.
By late 1856, the General Assembly passed legislation declaring that “the Seminary to be located West of the Suwannee River be, and the same is hereby located at the City of Tallahassee in the County of Leon.” There were several conditions that needed to be granted for this to occur – “the proper and authorized conveyance of said Lot and College edifice thereon be made to the City of Tallahassee to the Board of Education,” that Tallahassee “guarantee to said Board of Education the payment of the sum of two thousand dollars per annum forever, to be expended in the education of the youth of said City, in such manner and on such terms as shall be agreed between the corporate authorities of said City and the Board of Education,” and that Tallahassee “shall pay to the Board of Education as much money in cash as shall be found necessary after a valuation of the Lot and College edifice aforesaid, to complete the sum of ten thousand dollars.”
With all of the requirements fulfilled, the State Seminary West of the Suwannee River was allowed to open its doors and so began FSU’s long history.
Dr. George Fraser Black, a librarian for the New York Public Library and later the Associate Director of the Scottish National Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh, was a distinguished researcher who was active in the late 1800s until his retirement in 1931. During this time, he researched and published on several topics, most notably Scottish history. His works include a history of Scottish Clans, several bibliographies on Scottish history, and an examination of the Romani language.
Much of Dr. Black’s research is devoted to looking at how modern Scotland formed and the influence of the Scottish people. A huge topic of interest within the realm of Scottish history was the poet Robert Burns. Among the materials are copies of Burns’s work, photo references, and images inspired by Burns’s poems.
Dr. Black compiled most of his research in a series of scrapbooks that included newspaper articles, photocopied book excerpts, and handwritten notes that he found relevant. The collection contains over 30 of these scrapbooks on a variety of topics from folklore to the history of Scottish Clans arranged alphabetically. Perhaps his most intriguing research involved witchcraft. Seven of the scrapbooks in the collection contains detailed information on trials, rumors, and myths surrounding witches and mythical creatures. These scrapbooks hold newspaper articles detailing witchcraft trials as late as the 1920s in the United States while also covering famous accounts from the Spanish Inquisition.
This collection is currently still being processed by the Special Collections & Archives team, but it will be available for the public to view soon.