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Albert DeVane Collection

Identifier: Ms 212

Scope and Content

The DeVane Collection can be divided into four categories: writings by DeVane, photographs of the aftermath of Hurricane Donna (1960), photographs of construction at the Brighton Reservation, and general photographs of Seminole Indian culture. The writings by DeVane include correspondence to D.B. McKay, a columnist for the Tampa Tribune, and to Edward T. Keenan, a military historian. They also include speeches, narratives and stories written by DeVane based on his knowledge of Seminole history.

Photographs taken from the 1950s through the early 1960s make up the bulk of the collection, which also includes some color Polaroids and some reproductions of 19th century photographs. At least one third of the photographs show Billie Bowlegs III in ceremonial attire or demonstrating various traditional crafts and skills. Bowlegs was an elder at the Brighton Reservation. Although he was not a full Seminole, he became famous for being the oldest living tribal member. He died in 1965 at the age of 102. Other photographs depict schoolrooms, beauty pageants, and daily life from the period. DeVane also collected reproductions and pencil-sketch portraits of famous tribal members by the artist Robert West. These are in the collection along with some information on another artist, James Hutchinson, who specialized in depictions of Seminole life.


  • Creation: 1950-1966



The collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

Albert DeVane was born in Plant City, Florida, in 1895. DeVane's family had a long history in the land which prompted his interest in Florida history. He became a close friend to Billy Bowlegs III, and through him became a highly respected amateur historian of Seminole history. Through his friendship with Bowlegs, he also became a surrogate member of the Seminole community, being one of the small number of white men to be invited to the annual Green Corn Dance. He was an avid student of Seminole customs, language, history, and genealogy. Although he never published a book while he was alive, he wrote down many narratives of Seminole history and freely made himself available to anyone interested in Seminole history. Many of his writings were collected in DeVane's History of Early Florida, Volumes I and II. Family members and journalists remember him as a larger than life figure. DeVane died of a heart attack in 1969 at the age of 64.

Sources: Interview by Rachael Davis with Dwight DeVane (Albert DeVane's nephew). March 29, 2007. Max Hunn, "Candy Bar Historian," (date and place of publication unknown), in the DeVane Collection. "Deaths: Albert DeVane, Noted Historian of the Seminoles," (newspaper title unknown), August 13, 1969, in the DeVane Collection.


2 Linear feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials



The Albert DeVane Collection represents a portion of the papers and photographs of a historian who focused his life on Seminole Indian culture. The writings and photographs in the collection center around Seminole Indians from the Brighton Reservation.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Acquisition Information

Materials donated by Laymond Hardy and others.

Alternate Form of Material

Digital reproductions of items in this collection 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.

Related Material

See also the Albert DeVane Collection at the Sebring Historical Society. Transcripts of interviews with DeVane are available from the University of Florida Oral History Collections.

A Guide to the Albert DeVane Collection
Finding aid created by Rachael Davis
April 2007
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