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John K. Mahon Papers

Identifier: Ms 225

Scope and Content

The materials in this collection represent a portion of Mahon's research papers, collected from his home and donated to the University of Florida by his son, John Mahon III. Most of the materials deal with military history, Seminole Indian history, or environmental activism from 1961-2002. Mahon was a founder and board member of the Seminole Wars Historic Foundation, Inc., and worked for many years to preserve sites significant to Florida's three Seminole wars. He also served as secretary for the Foundation. Some of the materials in this collection are related to Mahon's research on the Seminole Indians. There is also a small section of general correspondence and files related to his activities as an environmentalist. This collection is arranged thematically starting with military history and moving on to Seminole history, the history of other Florida Indian groups, correspondence with colleagues, and finally Mahon's various environmental activities.

Two boxes of materials from the National Archives pertaining to land claim cases in Florida have been included because of the witness testimony they provide on conditions in East Florida between 1812 and 1821.


  • Creation: 1961-2002



The collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

John K. Mahon (1912-2003) grew up in Iowa, the son of a grocer (1934-1942) and an avid member of the Boy Scouts of America; his rural upbringing gave him a life long love of the outdoors. During World War II, he served as an officer in the Ninth Armored Division of the Fifth Army in Europe (1942-1946). He attended Swarthmore College as an undergraduate and received his Ph.D. from UCLA. He joined the faculty of the history department at the University of Florida in 1954, was chairperson of the department from 1965 to 1973, and retired in 1982 after 28 years as a professor. His academic career focused on military history, a subject he became interested in during his own time of service. Mahon's most famous publication was his History of the Second Seminole War, largely regarded as the authoritative source on the subject. He was also the author of a well-received history of the War of 1812 and other works of military history. In Gainesville, Mahon was became well known for his environmental activism. He served as an officer in various environmentalist groups for many years, and became especially prominent after his official retirement from UF.


3.41 Linear feet (7 boxes)

Language of Materials



Files of papers from 1961-2002, mostly dealing with Seminole Indian history, military history, and environmental activism.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

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

The University of Florida also holds records of the Florida Defenders of the Environment and the Sierra Club, two environmental groups to which Mahon belonged.

Processing Information

Materials in Boxes 6 and 7 were added August 2019 along with the "Seminole Tribe of Florida Community Action Program" document. At that time, research materials comprising photocopies of military correspondence from the National Archives were discarded.

A Guide to the John K. Mahon Papers
Finding aid created by Stephen Jackson
August 2007 (Updated August 2019)
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