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“Pestilence, Potions, and Persistence:” New online exhibit documenting Florida’s history

Florida memory Logo

The State Archives of Florida’s project Florida Memory provides a repository of primary documents that illustrate different aspects of the state’s history. Florida Memory has recently expanded its collection with the addition of an exciting new exhibit called “Pestilence, Potions, and Persistence: Early Florida Medicine.”

Illustration from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newsletter

Print in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper (1888) “Get back into the car; you can’t stop here!” yellow fever refugees are told.


The exhibit includes documents that highlight the role of health and wellness in the lives of Florida’s citizens in the early stages of Florida’s history. Some examples of documents found in the collection include photographs of midwives and nurses visiting patients, documents regarding the yellow fever epidemic, and correspondence between health practitioners and authorities in order to achieve certification.

Doctors and resorts promoted Florida as a healthy destination for “consumptive invalids, for the nervous and debilitated, and for valetudinarians of all degrees,” while advertisements for tonics warned of  “an impenetrable swamp, full of snakes, alligators, turtles, and strange reptiles.”

State Library and Archives of Florida. Quarterly Newsletter, Oct.-Dec. 2009

Florida’s early medicine is a new aspect that complements the material covered by this valuable resource well known for many librarians. Florida Memory consists of the Florida Photographic Collection, the Online Classroom, Highlights of Florida History, Collections, and the Exhibits, which include a timeline.



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