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May Mann Jennings Papers

Identifier: Ms 057

Scope and Content

The May Mann Jennings Papers (1889-1963) document her activities related to the Federation of Women's Clubs, the Royal Palm State Park, the Everglades, and her relationship with her husband, Governor William Sherman Jennings. Other topics include women's rights and suffrage, the Seminole Indians, beautification efforts, child welfare, public health, education, and Democratic politics. The collection consists of correspondence, photographs, news clippings, speeches, meeting minutes and biographical information. The personal correspondence includes letters to and from her husband and her son, Sherman Bryan Jennings.


  • Creation: 1889-1963



The collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

May Mann Jennings was a leading member of the women's club movement and an influential advocate for social reform and civic causes in Florida and nationwide. Born in New Jersey in 1872, she moved with her family to Crystal River, Florida, in 1874. She was educated at St. Joseph's Convent in St. Augustine, and lived primarily in Jacksonville throughout her life. No stranger to politics, her father was Florida State Senator Austin Shuey Mann and she married future Governor William Sherman Jennings in 1891. During their years in the Governor's mansion, she became known as the "Mother of Forestry" for her advocacy efforts on behalf of the state Board of Forestry. Her interests varied widely and she championed numerous causes related to the Seminole Indians, women's rights and suffrage, conservation, beautification efforts, child welfare, public health, education, and Democratic politics.

A prominent leader in the women's club movement, she served as president of the Florida Federation of Women's Clubs from 1914-1917, and as both Florida director and vice president of the General Federation of Women's Clubs (1918-1920). She also held several important leadership positions with social club and civic organizations throughout Florida, including numerous beautification committees and the state Audubon Society. During her tenure as president of the Florida Federation of Women's Clubs, she spearheaded the effort to have the Royal Palm State Park established in 1915, thereby preserving a portion of the Everglades for public use. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s she continued to oversee and advocate for the Royal Palm Park on behalf of the Federation. She was appointed to the Everglades National Park Commission in the late 1930s and pushed for the creation of a national Everglades Park. She died April 24, 1963.


9 Linear feet (25 boxes)

Language of Materials



Correspondence and miscellaneous materials of May Mann Jennings, a political and environmental activist.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Acquisition Information

Gift of Mrs. Jennings, Dorothy Jennings Sandridge, and other family members.

Alternate Form of Material

Items in the May Mann Jennings collection have been digitized for America's Swamp: The Historical Everglades project, which is generously supported by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). In addition to the links that are provided throughout this guide to the collection, all materials can be browsed at the May Mann Jennings page in the University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC). Please note the majority of items in this collection are not described individually. Therefore, it is not possible to search for a specific item (e.g., a letter written by a particular author). Instead, the digital collection is best accessed by selecting a folder title and browsing the images contained in each folder.

Related Material

The University of Florida also holds the papers of May Mann Jennings' father, State Senator Austin Shuey Mann, and her husband, Governor William Sherman Jennings.

A Guide to the May Mann Jennings Papers
Finding aid prepared by Dept. Staff
December 2011
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.
Digitization funded with the generous support of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America