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African American History in Alachua County Collection

Identifier: MSS 0630

Scope and Content

The African American History in Alachua County collection holds documents, program booklets, and DVD tapes related to local Black history ranging from 1975 to 2021. Flyers for Soil Collection Ceremonies in the cities of Gainesville and Newberry show the decades-long truth and reconciliation efforts by local Black educators, activists, and other community members to honor victims of lynchings, while also preserving Florida’s dark history of anti-Black violence and injustice in the historical record. Oral histories of local community activists and groups like the Gainesville Women for Equal Rights detail life in the 1960s as well as efforts to secure rights for women during a time when race- and gender-based discrimination was rampant. The mix of first-person documents, news clippings, and event programs shows the social life and ever-present history of African Americans in the county, and their fight to make their presence visible despite forces of oppression.

The Chestnut Family series houses news clipping and correspondences about the Chestnut Family’s engagement in local politics and business, between the years 1975 and 2014. Several clippings document Cynthia Moore Chestnut’s timeline from mayoral candidacy bid to history-maker as Gainesville’s first Black woman mayor. Additional records include letters to family head, Charles S. Chestnut, Sr., demonstrating the family’s decades-long impact and commitment to the community in the funerary profession.


  • Creation: 1976 - 2021



The collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

African Americans have significantly contributed to the history and culture of Alachua County since before the American Civil War. Contributions by African Americans in education, law and politics, health, business, the arts, and more can be seen across Alachua County, especially in neighborhoods like Pleasant Street and Fifth Avenue, social organizations like Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., and institutions like the Cotton Club Museum and Cultural Center, the A. Quinn Jones Museum & Cultural Center, and The Dunbar Hotel (now known as Pleasant Place). Additionally, key figures like historian and activist Dr. Patricia Hilliard-Nunn, civil rights activist and educator Dr. Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, musician Bo Diddley, Rev. Dr. Thomas A. Wright, and the Chestnut Family have all played a role in shaping the county’s and nation’s Black history.



.41 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



News clippings, correspondence, program booklets, DVD tapes, and other documents, related to local Black history in Alachua County, Florida.


This collection is arranged chronologically.


University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Acquisition Information

Most items were collected by Flo Turcotte, with some of the DVD oral histories most likely being donated by the UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program.

A Guide to the African American History in Alachua County Collection
Finding aid created by Tiffany Pennamon
August 2023
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