Skip to Main content
Historic photo of Ponce Hall circa 1960s

William Proctor Writing Contest

William L. Proctor Award
for scholarship on the
History, Archaeology, and Historic Architecture of St. Augustine
awarded by the
Historic St. Augustine Research Institute

The Historic St. Augustine Research Institute announces the William L. Proctor Award for outstanding research and writing at the undergraduate and graduate level on the history, archaeology, and historic architecture of St. Augustine. The Institute will award the William L. Proctor Prize in the amount of $1000 and such other smaller prizes in the discretion of the Institute. This is a juried competition.

William L. Proctor, Ph.D. is the chancellor of Flagler College. For thirty years he served as president of the college; he has also served as a member of the state of Florida State Board of Education and a member of the Florida House of Representatives. He is currently the President of the St. Augustine Foundation, Inc., the funding agency for the Institute.

The Institute is a collaborative project of Flagler College and the University of Florida. Its purpose is to encourage, coordinate and disseminate active academic research related to the history, archaeology and historical architecture of St. Augustine, Florida, and to apply this research in support of historic preservation in the city.

Historic St. Augustine Research Institute recognizes scholarship on the Yamasee Indians for Proctor Awards

The Historic St. Augustine Research Institute, a group that contributes to local historic preservation efforts, have awarded their annual William L. Proctor award of $1,000 to Dr. Denise Bossy for her most recent book, “The Yamasee Indians From Florida to South Carolina” (University of Nebraska Press, 2018) for its outstanding scholarly work pertaining to the Yamasee Indians. HSARI hosts this juried award competition for writing focused in the areas of history, archaeology and historic architecture related to St. Augustine.

The award’s namesake, Dr. William L. Proctor, was appointed the president of Flagler College in the spring of 1971. He served in that position until his appointment as chancellor, a position he currently holds.

Bossy is an Associate Professor of History at the University of North Florida, where she has been on the faculty since 2007. She received her Ph.D., M.Phil and M.A. in American history from Yale University and her B.A. in history from Princeton. She has held fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, American Historical Association, American Philosophical Society, Mellon Foundation, John Carter Brown library, three institutes at Yale University and UNF.

Both her research and courses focus on the early South, especially the Native South and Indigenous Florida. She places special emphasis on teaching American Indian history as local, public, and southern histories. She also works with local museums and parks in Northeast Florida to improve their American Indian programming. In Fall 2018, she published the anthology “The Yamasee Indians: From Florida to South Carolina,” which grew out of a conference that she organized with archaeologist Chester DePratter at Flagler College in 2015. She is the author of many academic book chapters and articles, having received the John Murrin Prize and Malcolm C. Clark Award for them. She is currently completing the first monograph on the Yamasee Indians from their Mississippian roots to the late eighteenth century.

One jury panel member said, “The authors have done an amazing job of showing how much richer and balanced colonial history can be when you build up a picture of the past based on what indigenous people were doing.”

Overall, the panel decided that the narrative presented on the Yamasee Indians and their contributions to shaping the southeast during the colonial period was much needed and therefore, deserved their recognition. The book explores the Yamasee successes in a blossoming St. Augustine, as well as their struggles, and the often-fractured relationship between the mission system of Florida and its English neighbors to the north. The HSARI panel also noted that this recognition of work is attributed to all of the book’s contributors.

“By placing Yamasees and other indigenous people at the center of our stories, we put them back where they were,” said Bossy.

Historic St. Augustine Research Institute awards Dr. Thomas Graham for recent book “Silent Films of St. Augustine”

Dr. William Proctor and Dr. Thomas Graham standing in front of a fireplace. Dr. Graham is holding his book

The Historic St. Augustine Research Institute, a group that contributes to local historic preservation efforts, have awarded their annual William L. Proctor award of $1,000 to Dr. Thomas Graham for his most recent book, “Silent Films of St. Augustine” (University Press of Florida). This is a juried award competition for writing at the undergraduate level and above in the areas of history, archaeology and architecture.

The award’s namesake, Dr. William L. Proctor, was appointed the president of Flagler College in the spring of 1971. He served in that position until his appointment as chancellor, a position he currently holds.

Graham, Professor Emeritus at Flagler College, has several other published works including, “Flagler's St. Augustine Hotels” (Pineapple Press, 2004), “The Awakening of St. Augustine” (St. Augustine Historical Society, 1978), “Charles H. Jones, Journalist and Politician of the Gilded Age” (University Press of Florida, 1990) and “Mr. Flagler's St. Augustine”. Graham has also served in various roles within the St. Augustine Historical Society and the Florida Historical Society.

“Silent Films of St. Augustine” explores the time period of 1906 – 1926 when Graham says more than 120 silent films were shot in town, a location mostly overlooked by the history books.

“Jacksonville ranked first as Florida’s movie venue,” said Graham. “But just thirty-five miles to the south lay St. Augustine…the colonial stone houses, narrow streets, and exotic architecture provided ready-made backdrops for making scenes supposedly set in Spain, France, Italy, and even India, China, and Hawaii. The ‘tropical’ surroundings of the town could stand in for African jungles, while the sand dunes of the beach became deserts of the Sudan.”

“Silent Films of St. Augustine” is available at most online and retail locations, including Flagler’s Legacy shop.

Two St. Augustine books win inaugural Proctor Award

Dr. Leslee Keys holds her book

The Historic St. Augustine Research Institute has selected two recipients for its inaugural William L. Proctor Award, which was established to identify the best books or scholarly journal articles published each calendar year. This year’s winners are Dr. Leslee Keys, for her book “Hotel Ponce de Leon: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of Flagler’s Gilded Age Palace,” and Elsbeth “Buff” Gordon for her book “Walking St. Augustine: An Illustrated Guide and Pocket History to America’s Oldest City.”

Keys is an assistant professor of history and director of historical preservation at Flagler College. Her book, published by the University Press of Florida, showcases the construction of Henry Flagler’s Hotel Ponce de Leon and its adaptive use as the centerpiece of the Flagler College campus. The book is the first to present the story of the preservation of the Hotel Ponce de Leon and to address the topic in the context of St. Augustine’s history from the preservation of the City Gate in 1827 through the Depression-era efforts to stabilize the city’s economy and up through St. Augustine’s 400th anniversary in 1965. The book’s peer reviewers included Dr. Meredith Arms Bzdak, Principal, Mills & Schnoering Architects, Princeton; Dr. Ted Ligibel, Executive Director, Historic Preservation Program, Eastern Michigan University; and Dr. Les Standiford, Director, Creative Writing Program, Florida International University. Keys was also recently recognized with the Roy E. Graham Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation Education from the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. At Flagler College, she has been closely involved with preservation efforts over the last decade on the campus.

Elsbeth Gordon
Elsbeth Gordon

Gordon’s book, “Walking St. Augustine,” was also published by the University Press of Florida. It provides readable information from scholars regarding St. Augustine’s history and architecture. It features easy-to-follow maps of walking tours through neighborhoods of the colonial city. The book’s publication in color was made possible through the generosity of University of Florida Historic St. Augustine and the St. Augustine Foundation, Inc. Gordon is an architectural historian living in St. Augustine. She is also the author of “Florida’s Colonial Architectural Heritage” and “Heart and Soul of Florida: Sacred Sites and Historic Architecture.” Gordon designs her research and writing to see the city through the eyes and times of those who lived and worked in St. Augustine through the centuries, as well as those who are today passionate about protecting the historic city’s past and future.

The Historic St. Augustine Research Institute, funded by the St. Augustine Foundation, was established in 1999 as a cooperative organization between Flagler College and the University of Florida to promote original research on the history, archaeology and architecture of St. Augustine and its environs. The Institute’s goal is to spread scholarly knowledge to the general public, and in support of this mission, the William L. Proctor Award was established in late 2015, and this is its inaugural year of awards. Proctor is chancellor of Flagler College, and former president of the college.

2013 Scholarship Recipient

Alexander Tasi receiving an award from Dr. William Proctor

Alexander Tsai

Read the winning essay

Maize in the Political Economy of Spanish St. Augustine

Rules of the competition

  1. The competition is open to all undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in a regionally accredited college or university in a history, archaeology, historical architecture, or related program. Individuals must be a currently registered (full or part-time) student or have been registered within the last six months at the time of the deadline for submittal.
  2. Papers shall address the history, archaeology, or historical architecture of the city of St. Augustine in some substantial manner.  Therefore, papers need not focus exclusively on the history of the city, but must provide ample coverage of some aspect of the city’s almost 450 years of history.
  3. Papers should be typed, double spaced throughout (excluding footnotes, block quotes, and tabular matter), on good quality white 8.5" x 11" paper. An ideal page paper length is twenty-five to thirty-five pages. Papers must be submitted electronically in Word format. The manuscript should be prepared as follows:
    • The first page should be headed by the title without the author's name. Authorial identification should be avoided throughout the manuscript.
    • The entire text should be paged consecutively.
    • Citations should be single-spaced footnotes, numbered consecutively, and in accordance with The Chicago Manual of Style.
    • In a cover letter, authors should include their name, their academic institution, the author’s phone number, email address, and mailing address. Authors should also include the name and contact information of any professional who has already critiqued the paper.
    • No paper will be considered if it has been previously published in some form, is soon to be published elsewhere, or is under consideration by a journal or press.
  4. Papers must be sent by email to the following address: and received by June 15, 2014
  5. Research associates of the Institute will jury the competition.
  6. It is anticipated that the prize winning paper and such other exceptional papers, if any, will be published in a special edition of El Escribano, the Journal of the St. Augustine Historical Society.
  7. The decision of the Institute in any and all aspects of the competition is final. Questions concerning the competition should be directed to T. W. Upchurch, Assistant Professor of Law and History; Flagler College, 74 King Street, St. Augustine, Florida 32084 or at