Ethnohistory & Oral History

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Oral historian Robert Edic interviews Esperanza Woodring on her porch, April 17, 1990 (Photo by Karen Walker.)

We have undertaken historical research in the colonial archives in Spain, resulting in Missions to the Calusa, a 444-page compendium of documents translated and annotated by John Hann (Florida Bureau of Historic Preservation). These documents, previously unknown or largely inaccessible, furnish a wealth of information about the historic Calusa. Archival research by John Worth in Spain and Cuba added additional important information. We have also collected and transcribed oral histories from longtime Charlotte Harbor area residents, and now have a library of information about fishing traditions and cultural changes in the early twentieth century. A summary was published in the book Fisherfolk of Charlotte Harbor, Florida, by Robert Edic.

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Typical manuscript page from the Archive of the Indies, Seville, Spain. Such pages are sources of much information about interactions between Spaniards and Calusa Indians in the 1500s to 1700s.