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British Empire and Florida: Home

Guides and resources for the history practicum on the British colonial period in East and West Florida


British Empire and Florida:
A Guide to Sources

Course Overview

In your course on British empire and Florida you will be exploring books, maps, and manuscripts that document how British imperial ambitions shaped the development of the American Southeast and the Caribbean.  In focusing on Florida and the British empire, you have three eras of involvement:

  • Rivalry with Spain and the Spanish colonies, beginning in the era of the Spanish Armada (1588) and Sir Francis Drake's raids on Spanish colonies, and extending into the conflicts between British South Carolina and Georgia, on one side, and Spanish Florida on the other, in the first half of the eighteenth century
  • Consequences of the Seven Years’ War, British acquisition of East and West Florida (1763-1784), and loss of these two colonies after the American Revolution
  • British and American rivalry through the War of 1812, which included deployment of British forces into the Spanish Floridas; includes Andrew Jackson's confrontations with British forces and officials


The "Colonial America" Database

More Information

Natural History in the British Colonial Period

Library Contact Information

James G. Cusick, Curator P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History

P.K. Yonge Library Home Page

A Fanciful Illustration of the Floridas

Thomas Kitchin Map of East and West Florida

Although British-period cartography would eventually excel at producing accurate coast surveys and maps of the Floridas, this illustration from the mid-eighteenth century gives some sense of common misapprehensions about Florida.  Attributed to Thomas Kitchin, this very  "Inaccurate" Map of East and West Florida, showing the peninsula broken up by waterways, was published in 1765 to accompany an article in the London Magazine.  Similar promotional pieces, or outright calls to invest and settle in the Floridas, appeared in the the Gentleman's Magazine and the London Chronicle or Universal Post. The London Magazine and the Gentleman's Magazine can both be found online.


British Interest in Florida

This 1774 edition of Thomas Jefferys' A Description of the Spanish Islands and Settlements on the Coast of the West Indies, first published in 1763 during the Seven Years' War (shortly after the British capture of Havana, Cuba) is a good example of British aspirations to expand in the New World Empire at the expense of Spain.  Jefferys outlined the advantages British subjects and investors would gain if they controlled various cities and ports in Spanish territory, giving detailed accounts and maps of the various places.  By the time the 1774 editon came out, at least some possessions, such as East and West Florida, had in fact changed hands, and were under British control.  Jefferys produced wonderful maps of St. Augustine and Pensacola, and a large-scale map of Florida, that are still considered brilliant pieces of cartographic work.

Facsimile available at Eighteenth Century Collections Online.


Extracts and Transcripts of Original Sources

Handling Special Collections Materials


JSTOR Home  

The JSTOR database, which you can access through the library catalog, is an excellent source for secondary literature. It includes The Florida Historical Quarterly, with many articles on British East and West Florida.

Sample Document: A British Woman's Account of Revolutionary Charleston and St. Augustine

Sample Documents Related to Florida


More Databases

Besides the Colonial America database, you may also want to consult other databases like British History Online, Early American Imprints, and Early English Books Online.  These databases are listed alphabetically at the A-Z Index for databases accessible through the University of Florida library system.  

British History Online

Colonial America

Early American Fiction, 1789-1875

Early American Imprints

Early English Books Online

Eighteenth Century Collections Online

Slavery in America and the World

Slavery, Abolition and Social Justice

To use these databases, you will have to get to them through the library catalog, and be signed in to the VPN (Virtual Private Network) with your Gator ID.  These databases are available to all UF students - but you have to prove you are a UF student, and the way to do that is to sign in to the VPN.  Once you are signed in, any database and an e-book or e-journal in the library catalog should be open for your use.

If you need instructions on how to download the VPN software onto our device and log in, you can find it here:

Download and Install the Virtual Private Network



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