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Oral History Interviews for Mayport by Helen Cooper Floyd

Identifier: MSS 0609

Scope and Content

This collections contains audio cassette tapes and accompanying transcriptions of oral histories Helen Cooper Floyd conducted with Mayport residents in the 1970s and 1980s. Notable people mentioned in the transcripts include Cooper Floyd’s husband Hilton Floyd, a commercial fisherman who earned a Purple Heart during the Normandy landings and served as a Fishery Adviser for the U.S. government in South Vietnam; Captain Leon Canova, a shrimper who Cooper Floyd described as one of the “Paul Bunyans of the trawler fleet;” ‘French Louie’ Thomas, a French immigrant who left his mark in the language and fishing practices of Mayport, and Rebecca ‘Aunt Beck’ Tillotson, a descendant of Minorcan immigrants and who was known and beloved throughout Mayport. Common themes include the shrimping industry in Mayport, family recollections and histories of prominent Mayport families (such as the Singletons, Coopers, and Sallases), stories of various immigrant groups that moved to Mayport (such as Norwegians, Minorcans and Portuguese), and the local culture and folklore of Mayport. Though some of the persons interviewed in the transcripts and tapes were later included in one or more of Floyd’s books, much of the material is new and not found in her published works on Mayport. However, she may have alluded to this unpublished material in the introduction to Mayport Remembered, saying “These families who were our neighbors whose names here are unmentioned – and they are legion – have stories yet to be told … These are not forgotten. They are filed away for future reference.”


  • 1971 - 1988



The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Transcripts are open for use. Audio files will eventually be available in digital form.

Biographical/Historical Note

Helen Cooper Floyd (January 30, 1922 - April 23, 1998) was born as Helen Mae Cooper in Mayport, Florida, in what is now Jacksonville, and was baptized at Mayport Presbyterian Church. In 1943, she married Hilton Martin Floyd, also of Mayport, with whom she had 7 children. Helen Cooper Floyd attended the Florida State College for Women (the future Florida State University), where she graduated in 1945, winning several awards for her writing before attaining her degree. Floyd achieved recognition for her work in writing and Florida history. She was an award-winning columnist for The Ocean Beach Reporter of Jacksonville Beach. She also had a by-line in the Jacksonville Journal in the 1950s and early ‘60s and wrote for numerous newspapers in Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi through the 1980s. Floyd conducted research on the history of her hometown of Mayport, which culminated in four books: Mayport Remembered: People & Places (1991); Mayport Remembered: Along the Waterfront (1st edition, 1992); In the Shadow of the Lighthouse: A Folk History of Mayport, Florida (1994); and Mayport Remembered: Along the Waterfront (2nd edition, 1995). Besides her Mayport writings, Floyd achieved recognition for her work on Florida folklore, the history of Minorcans in Florida, and the history of the Northeast Florida commercial fishing industry. Floyd was also active in education, teaching in Mayport; St. Simon’s Island, Georgia; Escatawpa, Mississippi; and Moss Point, Mississippi. She supported and worked with numerous social and charitable organizations throughout her life, ranging from the Jackson County Youth Court to the Florida Folklore Society. Upon her death in 1998, her ashes, along with her husband’s, were interred at a sea buoy in the St. Johns River in her beloved Mayport.


Florida Times-Union, April 23, 1998

Florida Times-Union, April 15, 2004

Information from the family.


1 Linear Feet (1 Box)

Language of Materials



This collection contains audio cassette tapes and accompanying transcriptions of oral histories Floyd conducted with Mayport residents in the 1970s and 1980s.


University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Acquisition Information

Donated by Tamara Floyd (August 2020)

Alternative Format Available

Digital reproductions of selected items in the Oral History Interviews for Mayport by Helen Cooper Floyd are available online via the University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC). Please read the Permissions for Use statement for information on copyright, fair use, and use of UFDC digital objects.

A Guide to the Oral History Interviews for Mayport by Helen Cooper Floyd
Finding aid created by Jason Zappulla
February 2022 (Updated November 2022)
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

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