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Guide to Researching in Florida's Colonial Papers: Spanish Colonial Period: East Florida Papers

By Jason Zappulla and James Cusick

Searching the East Florida Papers

The East Florida Papers is a collection in the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. The Papers represent the official local record of the government of St. Augustine, Florida, during the late colonial, or Second Spanish, period (1783-1821), along with some documents about earlier eras. St. Augustine was at this time capital of Spanish East Florida (which comprised the Florida peninsula east of the Apalachicola River).  Census records, royal orders, decrees, and other documents can be found in this collection. This collection is also an important source of diplomatic records, such as documenting Spanish relations with the Creek and other native peoples, and with the British trading house of Panton, Leslie, and Co. The documents have been housed in the nation's capital since 1905.  One segment, the Spanish land grants from this period, are maintained at the Florida State Archive and are available online.  

An index to the East Florida Papers is now available online, created at the University of Florida in the 1970s and digitized under a grant from the St. Augustine Foundation/Historic St. Augustine Research Institute in 1998.  This index provides brief English-language abstracts to the documents in the Papers.  Proper names for people, places, ships, etc. area also included in the abstracts.   The index is searchable and identifies where in the microfilm set a document can be found.  Results can be re-ordered by date, section number, or microfilm reel number.   There is also a digital version of the East Florida Papers commercially available through Gale Publications.

Significance of the East Florida Papers

Map of East and West Florida, circa 1781. Courtesy of UF Digital Collection.

"From these sources [in the East Florida Papers], many works on Florida's political and military history have been written by American and Spanish scholars such as Joseph B. Lockey, Helen Hornbeck Tanner, Janice Borton Miller, and Juan Marchena Fernandez. These works provide the foundation for many subsequent studies."

- Sherry Johnson, The Florida Historical Quarterly, Vol. 71, No. 1 (1992)

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