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About the Grant

The Chase Family Award for Visiting Graduate Scholars at the P.K. Yonge Library

The Chase Family Award is made possible through an endowment created by members of the Chase family, pioneers in Florida citrus growing. Its purpose is to enable graduate students to conduct research in the P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History at the George A. Smathers Library, University of Florida.

We are proud to recognize Rachel C. Kirby as the 2019 recipient of the award.  Rachel is a doctoral candidate in the American & New England Studies Program at Boston University. Her research examines agricultural imagery that contributed to the creation, circulation, and celebration of identity and place in the American South.   She is tracing pop culture imagery of cotton and rice, and of advertising icons like Mr. Peanut, Bull Durham, and the Florida Orange Bird. 

"The orange – in its organic and represented forms – functions as a souvenir for Florida and a proxy for the various promotional associations that the state has embraced over time.  My first section focuses on the time period roughly covering the Great Depression through 1950, as oranges became a major export, and tourists and seasonal residents became an import, so to speak. The second time period is most clearly defined by the lifespan of the Orange Bird (1971-1987). This animated bird was the culmination of the commercialization of orange production and corporate tourism, as he was created from a partnership between Walt Disney Studios and the Florida Citrus Commission."

See Rachel's blog on Baseball Spring Training and Citrus!

Application Information


The story of the Chases in Florida began in 1878 when Sydney Octavius Chase (1860-1941), having read about orange groves in Scribner's Magazine, came to Florida from Philadelphia. His brother, Joshua Coffin Chase (1858-1948), joined him in 1884 and together they formed Chase and Company that year.  The citrus enterprise eventually involved all of the family over several generations. 

The Chase Family Award was first established in 2009 in honor of Cecilia L. Johnson, granddaughter of Joshua C. Chase, with additional support in memory of Joshua C. Johnson.  The grant program now continues through an endowment created by members of the Chase family.  We gratefully acknowledge their generosity and public spiritedness in supporting this travel grant, which provides $1000 to the recipient to conduct research in the P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History.  

Read more about the Chase Family Papers at the University of Florida

Eligibility:  Applicants should be enrolled in a graduate program leading to the masters or doctoral degree and actively engaged in research on Florida history or research that incorporates Florida as a major focus. The award travel grant has funded research in many aspects of Florida history, although applications for research involving Florida agriculture and the citrus industry are particularly appropriate.  Application is open to all graduate students at higher institutions of learning. Preference will be given to students coming from outside of the State of Florida who require on-site access to library materials.

Requirements:  Awardees are required to spend at least one week (five working days) in Special Collections at the George A. Smathers Libraries. One award travel grant will be made annually for a maximum of $1000 to help defray travel expenses.

Applying:  Applications for 2020 open on Monday, October 7, 2019. Applications must be received via email by 5:00 PM Eastern on Friday, November 22, 2019. Announcement of award will be made in January 2020. For information on how to apply see the "Application Instructions" or contact James Cusick at


2019 Award Recipient Rachel C. Kirby

Rachel Kirby, this year's awardee, visited the P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History in June where she delved into imagery of the orange in our extensive collection of advertising and promotional brochures, in materials from the Chase Family Papers, and in the postcard collection.  We look forward to seeing her dissertation chapter on Florida citrus culture and the iconography of the orange.

Previous Award Recipients

Previous Recipients of the Chase Family Award

Award for 2018

Aubrey Lauersdorf (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) for research on her dissertation about the Apalachee Indians of Florida and their place in the Southeast during colonial times.


Previous Recipients of the

Cecilia L. Johnson Award


Awards for 2011

Robert Hutchings (Carnegie Mellon) for research on his dissertation (awarded 2014) Agriculture, Environment, and the Transformation of the Florida Orange Industry in the Twentieth Century.  Robert is currently a Program Manager at Cisco Systems

Diane M. Boucher (Clark University) for work on her dissertation (awarded 2014)  Networks and Empires in the Maritime Borderlands: East Florida, 1763-1811.  Diane teaches U.S. history at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and is an independent consultant in historical research.

Awards for 2010

Cameron Strang (University of Texas, Austin) for research on scientific knowledge on the Florida frontier.  Strang is an assistant professor in history at the University of Nevada-Reno.  His first book, Frontiers of Science: Imperialism and Natural Knowledge in the Gulf South Borderlands, 1500-1850, was published in 2018.

Clark Barwick (Indiana University, Bloomington) for research on Zora Neale Hurston and Florida jukes. Barwick is a senior lecturer in the Kelley School of Business, University of Indiana.

Awards for 2009

Christopher Wilhelm (Florida State University) for research on the creation of Everglades National Park. An article based on this research, "Conservatives in the Everglades: Sun Belt Environmentalism and the Creation of Everglades National Park," was recently published in the Journal of Southern History. (82:4) 2016.

Jonathan DeCoster (Brandeis University) for research on early colonial alliances and rivalries among the native peoples of Flordia. DeCoster is currently associate professor of history at Otterbein University, Ohio.

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