Charlie Fanning is a PhD candidate in history at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he is writing a dissertation preliminarily titled “Empire of the Everglades: Agribusiness, the Land, and Labor in 20th Century South Florida.”
"In my dissertation project, I seek to unravel the intertwined local and global processes that transformed rural South Florida from a scarcely-inhabited “river of grass” into an expansive agro-industrial complex and hemispheric hub for commodity production and labor migration. . . I accessed and examined material related to growers’ associations, agribusiness, agricultural labor, and environmental politics from various collections during my week of research. The Chase family, Ernest Graham, Braga Brothers, and Nathan Mayo collections, in particular, have been important to understanding the social and political world of Florida’s major growers, their political positions and associations, and how they operated within and contributed to an environment of increasing agricultural consolidation."
Charlie had quite the adventure at the P.K. Yonge, arriving about five days before the COVID pandemic forced the university to shut down and remove all personal from campus! Fortunately, by agreement with the Provost, Charlies was able to remain in a social-distance environment to complete his research and had a safe trip and safe return home!
Rachel C. Kirby did her work at the Yonge Library as 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.