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Exterior of Hotel Ponce de Leon

Funded Research

The Historic St. Augustine Research Institute provides small grants to the Research Associates for the support of  historical, archeological or historic-preservation related research on St. Augustine.  Funded research projects have included:


Dr. Leslee F. Keys, PhD

This research addresses establishment in 1874 and incorporation in 1877 of the St. Augustine Yacht Club in post-Reconstruction St. Augustine as part of the federal government’s role in protection of Atlantic maritime routes. A major component was pursuing the links between Canada’s Maritime Provinces and St. Augustine. That chapter took place a decade before Henry Flagler launched an era of tourism in St. Augustine that drew a new population to the nation’s oldest city. Repositories with records that were critical to this research included the Duke University Rubenstein Library, Durham, North Carolina; Nantucket Historical Association, Nantucket, Massachusetts; Nova Scotia Archives, Halifax, Nova Scotia; and Florida Historical Society, Cocoa, Florida.

Old map of Ocacock Inlet


Capitan Francisco Menéndez: the Missing Years

Jane Landers continues researching Captain Francisco Menéndez for a full biography she is writing of his life. Using the Vice-Admiralty Court Records of the Bahamas, New York, and South Carolina, she is currently tracking his fate after the British sold him back into slavery in the Bahamas in 1741. She is also searching for evidence on how he re-gained his freedom and returned to Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose some years later.

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photo of document with Captain Francisco Menendez on it 

Dr. Jane Landers, Ph.D.

Spain's Corsairs of "Broken Color" in the War of Jenkins' Ear...and Maritime Career of Capitan Francisco Menendez

Jane Landers is researching Spain's deployment of corsairs or "broken color" during the global conflict known as the War of Jenkins Ear (1739-41). During that contest with Great Britain, the Spanish governors of Havana and St. Augustine outfitted ships to send on corsairing raids through the Caribbean and northward up the Atlantic Coast of North America. Many of these ships were manned by persons of African descent, such as Captain Francisco Menendez, the leader of Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose. These corsairing raids supplied St. Augustine with badly needed foodstuffs and supplies in the war years.

Photograph of a golden document 

Dr. Susan Richbourg Parker, Ph.D.

"Inhabitants of All Colours"

This research focuses on the entirety of the black residents in St. Augustine in order to enlarge our picture of the black presence in colonial Florida from 1660 to 1763. It seeks to balance the narratives about blacks in colonial St. Augustine which appears in reports, letters, testimonies, complaints, and latter-day lore by examining the recording of sacraments in which blacksborn free, freed, or enslavedparticipated as memorailzied in the records of the St. Augustine parish church. This research forms part of the inquiry into the tri-racial community of colonial St. Augustine.

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Illustration of types of St. Augustine's Bronze and Iron Artillery and equipment.

Dr. Sam Turner

St. Augustine's Bronze and Iron Artillery and equipment 1597-1601

Sam Turner translates and studies a newly-discovered bundle of Spanish documents that contains an inventory of cast bronze and cast iron artillery and ancillary equipment that was documented in St. Augustine Florida between the years 1597 and 1601.

Artillery and Associated Equipment in St. Augustine 1597-1601

Two researching completing excavations in the Tovar House.

Dr. Susan Parker

Continuing excavations at the Tovar House

Excavation at the Tovar House (see 2014-2015, above) showed that the first Spanish period stone construction was restricted to the southwest part of the present building. Susan Parker, Kathleen Deagan and Herschel Shepard continue the work to learn precisely when the original house was constructed, testing the possibility that it may be considerably earlier than previously assumed.

Excavations at the Tovar House


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Two researchers excavating the 1565 Menéndez Defenses at the Fountain of Youth Park.

Dr. Kathleen Deagan

Investigating the 1565 Menéndez Defenses

Excavations continue at the Fountain of Youth Park, site of the 1565 Spanish encampment. The project investigates areas thought to have been used for defenses of the community.

Investigating the 1565 Menéndez Defenses

Black and white portrait photo of well-dressed woman seated in ornate chair.

Dr. Leslee Keys

The Kenan Women of St. Augustine

Leslee Keys explores the stories of the Kenan family women, who became connected to Henry Flagler through his marriage to Mary Lillie Kenan, his third wife. Several generations of the Kenan women have been influential in St. Augustine social and philanthropic circles.

The Kenan Women in St. Augustine

Vintage photo of silent film actor in costume.

Dr. Thomas Graham

Star of the Silent Screen: St. Augustine as a winter film capital

What do heartthrob Rudolph Valentino, cowboy Tom Mix, vamp Theda Bara, and "Perils of Pauline" Pearl White have in common? They all made silent movies in St. Augustine in the years from 1910 to 1926. Tom Graham leads a romp through the important, but little-studied silent movie industry (and movies) made in early 20th century St. Augustine.

Graham, Thomas, Silent Films in St. Augustine. University Press of Florida, Gainesville. 2017.

Exterior of the José Tovar House

Dr. Susan Parker

Archaeological Research on the construction of the José Tovar House

Historian Susan Parker, Preservation Architect Herschel Shepard and Archaeologist Kathleen Deagan undertake a multidisciplinary study of the Tovar House, thought to be one of the oldest domestic buildings in St. Augustine. Excavations, architectural analysis and documentary research are intended to learn the dates of the house construction, how it was built, and what life in the Tovar house may have been like.

Excavations at the Tovar House 2015

Illustration of harbor crowded with ships in St. Augustine.

Dr. Diana Reigelsperger

Illicit trade and slavery in Spanish St. Augustine, ca. 1700-1763

During the 18th St. Augustine was a small port city at the crossroads of the Spanish, British and French American empires, but it served as an important point of illicit contraband trade and smuggling among those empires. Diana Reigelsperger analyzes Spanish and English documents to reveal the extent and the details of this illicit trade - especially in slaves - in St. Augustine.

Diana Reigelsperger 2015 Research Grant

Two researchers excavate large buried stone.

Dr. Gifford Waters

Excavations at the Nombre de Dios Mission site

Gifford Waters undertakes excavations to fully expose a very large buried stone building foundation discovered in 2011 at the Nombre de Dios Mission. Dating to the late 17th or early 18th centuries, the identification of the building as a Church, Chapel Shrine or other function is still unknown. Archaeological work will gather more information to help understands what role this large, early stone building had at the Franciscan Mission and the La Leche shrine.

Illustration of African American woman carrying bucket.

Dr. Jane Landers

In Search of Mose: Tracking St. Augustine's Free Black Community in Exile in Cuba

Jane Landers searches in Cuban Archives for documents that will reveal the fates of the members of St. Augustine's free black community of Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose., exiled to Cuba in 1763. The project also hopes to document the free black St. Augustine community who went to Cuba after the colony became an American territory in 1821.

Filling in the Missing Pieces


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Portrait of Pedro Menéndez de Aviles

Dr. Eugene Lyon

Pedro Menéndez de Aviles in Florida

Eugene Lyon distills his immense body of research and publication on Pedro Menéndez into an article-length manuscript. This will allow greater access by more people to the story of St. Augustine, and will be published by the St. Augustine Historical Society.

Lyon, Eugene, The Oldest City: 1565-1605. El Escribano. Vol. 50.
St. Augustine Historical Societye

Susan Parker examines paint on a wall.

Dr. Susan Parker and Mr. Herschel Shepard

The colors of St. Augustine's history: researching a historic mosaic

Susan Parker and Herschel Shepard team up with historic paint analyst Frank Welch to sample and analyze the layers of wall paint surviving in the interior of the St. Augustine Historical Society's José Tovar House. Some of the earliest layers of paint date to the 18th century, and will allow architects, archeologists, and planners determine the formula and colors of colonial paint being used in St. Augustine.



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Black and white photo portrait of unionist holding handgun.

Prof. Tracy Upchurch

Unionists in Confederate East Florida

Tracy Upchurch begins work in New York archival collections to find materials that will shed light on the Union occupation of Confederate northeast Florida in 1862. Jacksonville and St. Augustine were occupied early in the war, and played significant roles in and the Union control of the St. Johns River and the supply lines for Union troops to the North.

Upchurch, Tracy (in press, 2017) The Americanization of St. Augustine: 1821-1877 . In The Oldest City: The History of St. Augustine. (chapter 6) Edited by Susan Parker. St. Augustine Historical Society.


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Black and white portrait photo of Henry Flagler

Dr. Tom Graham

Mr. Flagler's St. Augustine, 1885-1913

Tom Graham continues his research on the influence of Henry Flagler on the history of St. Augustine and Florida, mining archives throughout Florida.

Graham, Thomas. Mr. Flager's St. Augustine: 1885-1913. University Press of Florida, Gainesville 2014.


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View of one corner of the Castillo de San Marcos with flag waving.

Prof. Roy Graham

Research to support the nomination of the Castillo de San Marcos as a World Heritage Site

Roy Graham is compiling pertinent maps, plans and documents to support a World Heritage Site nomination to the Castillo de San Marcos, and provide justification for assigning it world heritage value.


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Black and white painted portrait of Andrew Turnbull.

Dr. Dan Schaefer

Biography of Andrew Turnbull

Dan Schaefer travels to archives in Scotland, England and the U.S. to complete research on Andrew Turnbull, a member of the Royal Council of British East Florida, and the founder of the Florida plantation colony of New Smyrna (1768-1777 ). The colony failed, and the disheartened indentured workers - mostly Greek but known as Minorcans - walked to St. Augustine, where their descendants still live today.

Smyrnea: Dr. Andrew Turnbull and the Mediterranean Settlement at New Smyrna and Edgewater, Florida, 1766-1777.

Florida History Online


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Painted portrait of a Native American in red plaid shirt holding a sword

Dr. Dan Schafer

Synopsis of Official Spanish Correspondence Pertaining to Relations with the Uchiz Indians, 1771-1783

This project will make critical documents for understanding Spanish-Indian relations in second Spanish period St. Augustine available online. This will be part of the "Florida History Online" project directed by Daniel Schaefer of the University of North Florida.

Florida History Online

Painting of mother and two children holding food and drink.

Dr. James Cusick / Mr. Carl Halbirt

Spanish Identity and Household Daily Life in 2nd Spanish period St. Augustine: A Historical-Archaeological Research Study

Research Associates James Cusick, Kathleen Deagan and Carl Halbirt collaborate in this project to undertake an interdisciplinary study of daily life in second Spanish period St. Augustine. Archaeological remains from individual Spanish households of the 1784-1821 period (excavated by Carl Halbirt) will be analyzed by University of Florida graduate student Deborah Mullins, and integrated with documentary information about those same households found in the Spanish archives at the P.K.Yonge Library of Florida history (directed by James Cusick).

Daily Life in 2nd Spanish period St. Augustine

Painting of military group in front of Castillo de San Marcos 

Dr. Sherry Johnson

James Freeman Curtis, The Journal of the US Schooner Porpoise, 1821-1822

Inspired by portions of a young officer's ship journal, Sherry Johnson transcribes the account, which includes an eyewitness account of the transfer of Florida to US sovereignty and subsequent voyages to the Caribbean in pursuit of pirates.



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Military reenactor in red uniform fires rifle

Dr. Susan Parker

Research in Spanish and English document collections relevant to eighteenth century St. Augustine

Susan Parker's study focuses on the social changes brought about in Spanish Florida by the heightened military response to permanent English presence in the southeast after 1670. Research in the South Carolina archives and in Spanish documents held in Tallahassee, Florida revealed how personal-level connections and enmities in the southeast counted for as much as, or more than, the international wars and rivalries that emanated from Europe.

2013 "In My Mother's House: Female Property Ownership in Spanish Florida" in Southern Women's Legal History, edited by Sally Hadden and Patricia Minter. Athens: University of Georgia Press.

2017(in press) The Castillo Years: 1668 or 1702-1763. Chapter 4 in Oldest City: The History of St. Augustine. Edited by Susan Parker. St. Augustine Historical Society, St. Augustine.

2018 (in press) Reclaiming Homes and Lands in Florida: Private Property and International Treaties, 1763-1821, " in Tulane European and Civil Law Forum, Tulane University, New Orleans.

Collection of pottery artifacts

Mr. Carl Halbirt

Creating a Web Site for the City of St. Augustine Archaeology Program

Funds were provided to City of St. Augustine Archaeologist Carl Halbirt to create a website for the City of St. Augustine Archaeology Program. The website provides on-line access to the city's archaeological projects, their results, and the artifact collections they have generated.

Archaeology in St. Augustine


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Portrait of Uncle Jack Sitiki wearing hat and smoking pipe outdoors

Dr. Patricia Griffin

The Story of Uncle Jack Sitiki: An African Slave in St. Augustine

A historical and anthropological study of the 19th century narrative of Uncle Jack Sitiki, who was a former slave of historian Buckingham Smith in St. Augustine. His was a remarkable individual story, and provides a rare first-person glimpse into African slave life in the Oldest City.

Griffin, Patricia. The Odyssey of an African Slave. University Press of Florida, Gainesville 2009.

Illustration of Castillo de San Marcos with text reading

Dr. James Cusick

Digitization the Calendar of the East Florida Papers for use on the web

Jim Cusick's digitization of the calendar cards produced for the East Florida Papers provide online access to all surviving Spanish government papers that originated at St. Augustine between 1784 and 1821.

Index to the East Florida Papers

Painting of spanish galleon sailing in terrible storm.  

Dr. Sherry Johnson

The St. Augustine Hurricane of 1811

Sherry Johnson's research tells the story of the hurricane that hit St. Augustine in 1811, and demonstrates how a meteorological event can have a major impact on political policy and change.

Johnson, Sherry. The St. Augustine Hurricane of 1811: Disaster and the Question of Political Unrest on the Florida Frontier," Florida Historical Quarterly, 84 (Summer 2005), 28-56.


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Aerial view of excavations at the Fountain of Youth Park.

Dr. Kathleen Deagan

Excavations at the original site of St. Augustine: The Menéndez Encampment, 1565-66

Archaeological excavations were directed by Kathleen Deagan at the Fountain of Youth Park site in St. Augustine, to uncover remains of the first Spanish settlement of 1565.

Historical Archaeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History


2009 Native American Ceramics at the Fountain of Youth Park Site, St. Augustine (8-SJ-31). In From Santa Elena to St. Augustine: Indigenous Ceramic Variability (A.D. 1400-1700), edited by K. Deagan and D.H. Thomas. pp. 141-161. New York: Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History. Number 90. 

Painting of Florida everglades with text reading

University Press of Florida

Support for the publication of Martin Johnson Heade in Florida by Roberta Smith Favis (2003).


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