Florida Agricultural History and Rural Life


Florida Agricultural History and Rural Life

Colonial Spanish agriculture (1565-1764), British agriculture (1764-1784) and the return of Spanish agriculture after the American Revolution (1784-1821) preceded the American experience, begun in 1821 when Florida was acquired as a territory of the United States. Statehood was achieved in 1845 at a time when a handful of antebellum plantations slowly spread throughout northern and north central Florida, and agriculture, citrus, cattle and naval stores were major economic resources for the new State. Nevertheless, the Seminole Wars, Civil War, Reconstruction took a toll on the State's development. Agricultural literature for this period is sparse and did not become significant until formal agricultural experimentation began at the State's land grant colleges. The first land grant college was established in 1884 at Florida Agricultural College, Lake City. A year later, in 1885, the Florida Constitution created the Cabinet level position, Commissioner of Agriculture along with an agency that evolved into the present Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). In 1891, a land grant college for African-Americans was established at the State Normal College for Colored Students (now Florida A&M University). Florida Agricultural College, along with three others, became the University of Florida in 1905 at Gainesville. The Agricultural Experiment Station, established in 1888 at the Florida Agricultural College, was transferred along with the College to the University of Florida. An Agricultural Extension Service was established in 1915. University agricultural programs involving the College of Agriculture, Experiment Station and Extension Service evolved into the present Institute of Food and Agricultural Science (IFAS).

At the turn of the century 90% of the state's population was still rural and Florida's frontier-like character persisted well into the twentieth century. This changed significantly after World War II, which represents a watershed in agriculture and the application of engineering to solve everyday problems. In 1941 the UF Engineering and Industrial Experiment Station (EIES) was established to assist in the development of Florida's agriculture, home life, and industry. It is this period of early agricultural development up to its modern changes (1820-1945) and the early development of engineered solutions to Florida's needs (1933-1970s) that is documented in these collections. Included are a bibliography, full-text copies of IFAS, FDACS, and EIES publications (not all series have been converted, but will become available over time), and photographs.


Citations of published books, journals, reports, IFAS documents and FDACS documents covering Florida agriculture and rural life between 1820-1945.


IFAS / Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

Annual Reports summarize research projects and provides administrative information on departments, staff, facilities and budgets. Bulletins provide research reports on specific crops, animal husbandry, diseases, and other experiments conducted by Station staff. Press Bulletins contain practical information for farmers on farming problems, crop growing and animal care.

IFAS / Florida Agricultural Extension Service

Annual Reports review extension programs in farm economics/management, agricultural engineering, animal husbandry, 4-H work, soil/water conservation, food/nutrition, rural health, home demonstration projects, and African American demonstration projects. Bulletins provide information on specific topics of interest to farmers. Circulars contain brief summaries on specific subjects of interest to farmers. Miscellaneous Publications contain informational notes on matters affecting farmers.

Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services

Annual / Biennial Report provide departmental reports and administrative information on agriculture, as well as other areas of responsibility that have been assigned to the department over the years (including land management, prisons, immigration, etc.). Bulletins report on research covering specific subjects. Various divisions also issued their own Bulletins (including the State Plant Board, State Chemist, Agricultural Inspectors, State Farmers Markets, etc.).

UF Engineering and Industrial Experiment Station

Bulletins provide extensive information on engineering research. Leaflets provide brief information on engineering research. Technical Progress Reports have extensive reviews of engineering projects. Florida Engineering News contain information on the work and history of various engineering laboratories at the University of Florida.


Photographs of rural Florida will be provided from several collections.