Seal of the State of FloridaThe Lawton M. Chiles Center for Florida History strives to enhance the teaching, study, and writing of Florida history.

Founded in 2001, the Center seeks to preserve the state’s past through cooperative efforts with historical societies, preservation groups, museums, public programs, media, and interested persons.

As such, the Center’s long-term goals are to:

  • Expand and upgrade the Florida Lecture Series.
  • Offer training in Florida history for public and private school teachers.
  • Work with and advise historical associations in the collection and preservation of historical artifacts, including oral histories, photographs, and manuscripts.
  • Hold symposia on special topics in Florida history.
  • Host a visiting scholar in Florida history.
  • Publish new and out-of-print works of Florida history.
  • Continue and add to our Oral History Collection.

This unique center, housed in the Sarah D. and L. Kirk McKay, Jr., Archives Center is a source of continuing information created to increase appreciation for Florida history.

Lawton M. Chiles Center for Florida History

Founded in 2001, the Center seeks to preserve the state’s past through cooperative efforts with historical societies, preservation groups, museums, public programs, media, and interested persons.


Monday – Friday
8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Contact Us

Dr. James M. Denham

Find Us

The McKay Archives Center is building code (A) on the campus map.


Florida Lecture Series

In its 18th year, the Florida Lecture Series is a forum that brings speakers to the FSC campus who explore Florida life and culture. The lecture series covers a wide range of disciplines, including history, public affairs, law, sociology, criminology, anthropology, literature, and art. The overall objective of the series is to bring members of the community, the faculty, and the student body together to interact with and learn from leading scholars in their fields.

All programs are held at 7 p.m. on the Florida Southern College campus in Lakeland and are free and open to the public.

2015-2016 Florida Lecture Series Schedule


September 3, 2015

Ed Ayers
(President Emeritus, University of Richmond)
“From War to Freedom: Reflections on the Civil War”

October 8, 2015

Drew Fulton
(Conservation Photographer and Filmmaker)
“Filming Florida: A Journey of Filmmaking and Photography”

November 5, 2015

Sandra Parks
(Educator, Writer)
“Stetson Kennedy: Folklorist, Journalist, Activist”

January 14, 2016

Michael Francis
(Hough Family Chair of Florida Studies and Professor of History, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg)
“Before Jamestown: Europeans, Africans, and Indians in La Florida, 1513-1607.”

February 18, 2016

Nathaniel Millett
(Professor of History, Saint Louis University)
“The Maroons of Prospect Bluff and Their Quest for Freedom in the Atlantic World”

March 3, 2016

Bob H. Lee
“Backcountry Lawman: True Stories from a Florida Game Warden”

Get on our mailing list or request info regarding the Florida Lecture Series  

Past Florida Lecture Series and Speakers

Among Series speakers have been distinguished leaders, historians, writers, and public officials such a Reubin Askew, Bob Graham, Janet Reno, Douglas Brinkley, H.W. Brands, and Robert V. Remini. | Learn more about our past series and speakers »

Recent publications

None Can Have Richer Memories Polk County, Florida, 1940-2000
Canter Brown, Jr.
Polk County Historical Association

Echoes from a Distant Frontier
The Brown Sisters' Correspondence from Antebellum Florida

Edited by:
James M. Denham
Keith L. Huneycutt

In the Midst of All That Makes Life Worth Living:
Polk County, Florida, to 1940

Canter Brown, Jr.
Commissioned by the Polk County Historical Association

"A Rogue's Paradise"
Crime and Punishment in Antebellum Florida,

James M. Denham

Cracker Times and Pioneer Lives, The Florida Reminiscences of George Gillett Keen and Sarah Pamela Williams
Edited by:
James M. Denham
Canter Brown, Jr.

Florida Sheriffs: A History 1821-1945
William Warren Rogers
James M. Denham

Oral History Program

Since its founding, the Center for Florida History has conducted, recorded, transcribed, and edited more than 20 full-length interviews.

The topics of these oral histories include Florida politics, law enforcement, legal and judicial affairs, the cattle and citrus industries, Florida Methodism, and World War II. These histories provide valuable information to students, researchers, and the general public about the social, economic, and political history of our region and Florida.

Each interview covers the subject’s life and background as well as information on the subject’s memories and relationships with former Senator and Governor Lawton Chiles.

The tapes and transcripts are currently preserved and housed in the McKay Archives Building, which is adjacent to the Roux Library at Florida Southern College. Transcripts of these recordings are available by appointment or upon request of interested researchers.

We have conducted interviews with:

  • Reubin Askew
  • Ed Chiles
  • William Ellsworth
  • Homer Hooks
  • D. Burke Kibler
  • Snow Martin, Jr.
  • Ed Price
  • Jack Pridgen
  • James Redman
  • Joe Ruthven
  • Hon. E. J. Salcines
  • Frederick H. Schultz
  • T. Terrell Sessums
  • Ned Sinder
  • Robert Waters
  • Virginia Wetherall

Read transcripts of our interviews »

Oral Histories

Governors & Advisors

Below is a list of individuals with strong interests in Florida history who have agreed to serve on the Board of Governors and the Board of Advisors. These individuals devote their knowledge and their energies to developing the Center into a premier facility for keeping Florida history available for students and the general public.

Executive Director

Board of Governors

  • Mrs. Mimi Hardman
  • Mr. Hollis H. Hooks
  • Mr. Kent Lilly
  • Dr. Sarah D. McKay
  • Professor Walter W. Manley II
  • Hon. Adam Putnam
  • Hon. Susan Roberts
  • Hon. T. Terrell Sessums

Committee Members for
Florida Lecture Series

  • Dr. Claudia Slate, Professor of English
  • Dr. Risdon N. Slate, Professor of Criminology

Board of Advisors

  • Dr. Canter Brown, Jr. (Chair)
  • Dr. Jane Landers
  • Ms. Jean McNary
  • Dr. Larry E. Rivers
  • Dr. William W. Rogers
  • Hon. E. J. Salcines
  • Dr. John Santosousso
  • Ms. Doris Weatherford

With Appreciation for
Administrative Support to:

  • Dr. Anne B. Kerr, President
  • Dr. Robert H. Tate, Vice President for External Relations
  • Ms. Cassie Paizis
Florida Lecture Series

Supporting the Center for Florida History

Individuals, corporations, and foundations provide the funds for an endowment and to pay for the operations and programs. If you are interested in supporting the Center for Florida History and its various initiatives, you can contact the Center or the FSC Advancement Office for a pledge card, or you may easily make a gift online  .

You will receive newsletters and announcements concerning the center as well as invitations to lectures and symposia.

Your interest and support of Florida history is appreciated.