Environmental History

Humans have been interacting with South Florida's unique environment for thousands of years. Explore this interrelationship in this section.

Reclaiming the Everglades

Reclaiming the Everglades is a digital archive of documents, books and photographs from the collections of HistoryMiami (the Historical Museum of Southern Florida), Florida International University and the University of Miami.

Enter through the Florida International University portal.

Enter through the American Memory portal.

The Everglades:  Exploitation and Conservation

This online exhibition gives an overview of the environmental history of the Everglades

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Cape Sable and Key West in 1919

by Willis S. Blatchley.
Tequesta, no. xxxiv (1974)
Journal of Blatchley's insect-collecting trip to Cape Sable and Key West in 1919. Entries provide descriptions of people and natural conditions.

The Cruise of the Bonton

by Charles William Pierce.
Tequesta, no.xxii (1962)
Pierce's memoir of a bird skin and plume hunting trip through the Ten Thousand Islands in 1885, on board his boat, the Bonton.

Dedication of Tamiami Trail Marker

by James Lorenzo Walker.
Tequesta, no. xix (1959)
Overview of the construction of Tamiami Trail.

Digging the Cape Sable Canal

by Lawrence E. Will.
Tequesta, no. xix (1959)
First-person account of working on the dredging of the Cape Sable Canal in 1921.

Exotic Plants and Animals

Flora and fauna from around the world have been introduced into South Florida. These articles describe them, their effects upon the region, and the humans, such as Henry Perrine, who brought them into our lives.

Explorations and Expeditions

Articles from various HistoryMiami publications describe intrepid journeys into the Everglades, when one could only travel the River of Grass by canoe (if water was high) or foot (if water was low).

Five Plants Essential to the Indians and the Early Settlers of Florida

by John C. Gifford.
Tequesta, no. iv (1944)
Coonti; black-drink (Ilex vomitoria); Seminole-pumpkin; guava; and quinine producing barks (members of the madder family and Exostema caribaeum).

The Mosquito Menace

by Jean C. Taylor.
Update, vol. 4, no. 6 (August 1977)
This essay tells how 19th and early 20th century pioneers coped with pesky mosquitoes.

Ornithology of The Cruise of the Bonton

by William B. Robertson, Jr.
Tequesta, no. xxii (1962)
Ornithologist Robinson identifies 42 species of birds mentioned in Pierce's narrative, followed by a commentary on plume hunting and scientific bird collecting.

On the Eve of Destruction

People and Florida's Everglades from the late 1800s to 1908
by Christopher F. Meindl.
Tequesta, no. LXIII (2003)
An overview of people's perceptions of wetlands and the Everglades from the 1840s until 1908, when drainage and reclamation began in earnest.

The Pennsuco Sugar Experiment

by William A. Graham.
Tequesta, no. xi (1951)
History of the Pennsylvania Sugar Company's sugar plantation, 1919-1931. The mill was located ten miles west of Hialeah, on the Miami Canal (present-day Pensuco).

The Sage of Biscayne Bay: Charles Torrey Simpson's Love Affair with South Florida

by Leah La Plante.
Tequesta, no. LV (1995)
Biography of nature writer Charles Torrey Simpson. Includes quotations from his books on South Florida.

A Story of Liguus Collecting : with a List of Collectors, 1744 to 1958

by Ralph H. Humes.
Tequesta, no.xxv (1965)
Don't try this now--it' illegal.

Scarifying South Dade

by Jean C. Taylor.
Update, vol. 5, no. 1 (October 1977)
Early 20th century broke up limestone bedrock to make soil.

Special Issue on Energy

Update, vol. 7, no. 2 (May 1980)
Articles on energy include:
Learning to be Kind to Our Mother Earth, by Lawrence Mahoney.
Pros and Cons of Sub-Tropic Houses, by Beverly Wilson.
Back to Basics After $600 Bill, by Marilyn Lane Gadinsky.

20th Century Environmentalists

by Michael Kesselman.
Update, vol. 9, no. 3 (August 1982)
Match the biographical sketch with the environmentalist. Choose from thirteen men and women who have affected the Everglades.

The Water

by Jeanne Bellamy.
Update, v. 8, no. 2 (May 1981)
History of water management in the Everglades, up to 1980.

Publications:  Audubon Societies

Birds of a Feather: The Coconut Grove Audubon Society, 1915-1917

by Emily Perry Dieterich.
Tequesta, no. xlv (1985)
Includes excerpts from society minutes.

The First Audubon Societies in Miami

by Jo Cameron.
Update, vol. 1, no. 4 (April 1974)

Publications:  John James Audubon

Audubon At Key West

excerpted from Key West-The Old and the New (1912), by Jefferson Browne.
Update, vol. 1, no. 4 (April 1974)

The Florida Keys

Two extracts from Ornithological Biography, by John James Audubon and William MacGillivray.
Update, vol. 9, no. 2 (May 1982)

Retracing Audubon on Cape Sable, Sandy Key

by Kathryn Hall Proby.
Update, vol. 9, no. 2 (May 1982)

Three Floridian Episodes

by John James Audubon.
Tequesta, no. v (1945)
Audubon describes his 1832 impressions of Sandy Key (near Cape Sable), Florida Keys wreckers and Florida sea turtle hunters.

Publications:  Coontie or Comptie

South Dade’s Last Commercial Starch Mill

by Jean C. Taylor.
Update, vol. 3, no. 6 (August 1976)

South Florida’s First Industry

by Earnest G. Gearhardt Jr.
Tequesta, no. xii (1952)
Describes the process of collecting comptie roots, making starch, using the starch.

Starch Making: A Pioneer Florida Industry

by Mrs. Henry J. Burkhardt.
Tequesta, no. xii (1952)
History of starch manufacture from comptie (coontia, zamia) roots by 19th century settlers in Dade County.