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Alexander Linn Papers

Identifier: MS 259

Scope and Content

This collection includes monthly reports on Linn's work as a Sunday school missionary, which were supplemented by letters. He surveyed communities to gauge their openness to starting a Sunday school, building a church, or improving an already existing but struggling church or Sunday school. Linn visited towns across south Florida, including Punta Gorda, Fort Myers, West Palm Beach, Miami, Pinellas Park, Englewood, Clewiston, Lake Garfield, Bradenton, Lakeland, Key West and Marco. The school reports mention Linn's trips to Seminole camps; major Florida hurricanes in 1926, 1928, and 1935; outbreaks of disease, such as the flu and polio; and the economic situation of the communities that he visited.

The collection also contains a photographic record of Linn's visits to Seminole camps. He produced a series of lantern slides that he used to illustrate his lecture about the Seminoles. The collection includes the original glass lantern slides, black and white prints made from the slides, and an almost complete set of 35mm photographic slides. The transcripts of two oral histories conducted at the University of Florida contain further information about Linn's interest in the Seminoles. The oral history recorded on March 8, 1971 describes specific lantern slides in this collection.

Among the identified images are depictions of Ted Smallwood's trading post at Chokoloskee; Fort Marion (the Castillo de San Marcos); pre-1930 hairstyles and clothing of the Seminoles; dredging to build the Tamiami Trail; a cooking chickee; grinding corn in a pop ash mortar; and coontie roots used to make sofkee. Specific people identified are Billie Fewell, Linn's "best friend among the Miccosukee;" Wilbert Smith, a retired conservation officer who traveled with Linn; Josie Billie as drawn by Ira Dell; Whitney Cypress with his family; and a man on horseback believed to be Coffee Gopher, one of Linn's friends and informants.


  • 1925-1975
  • Majority of material found within 1925-1951



One box of 93 lantern slides is stored separately from the collection. The slides have been tinted and colored. The collection is open for research, but access to the lantern slides requires special permission. Black and white prints and 35 mm slides of the images are available in box 1. Please use the photocopies, provided in the folders, of the letters accompanying the monthly Sunday school reports. Originals are stored in the last folders of the collection but in general are too deteriorated for use.

Biographical/Historical Note

Reverend Alexander Linn (1881-1975) was born in Hamburg N.J. and graduated from Columbia University. In 1905 Linn went to Florida at the advice of his doctor. He became pastor of his first church in Tarpon Springs in 1910 and was ordained a Presbyterian minister in 1914. Also in 1914, he married Lucile Gregory from Quincy, Florida. Between 1925 and 1951, Linn worked for the Board of National Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the Presbytery of Southwest and Southeast Florida as a Sunday school missionary. He started Sunday schools and established churches around Florida. In his travels Linn developed an interest in the Seminole Indians and gave lectures about his trips to Seminole camps. He illustrated his lectures with glass lantern slides that were tinted and painted with watercolors to make them more realistic. Linn retired in 1951 but continued to work as interim pastor at different churches until he had a stroke at age 92.


1.16 Linear feet (2 boxes and 1 lantern slide box)

Language of Materials



Monthly reports and supplementary letters from Rev. Alexander Linn to the Board of National Missions of the Presbyterian Church detailing expenses, salary due, and noteworthy events from his missionary work in Florida. The collection also includes a set of hand-tinted glass lantern slides that accompanied a lecture Linn gave about the Seminole Indians.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Acquisition Information

R. T. King, a University of Florida graduate student, wrote a dissertation on the Seminoles and worked for the Southeastern Indian Oral History Project. He met Linn during the course of his studies, and Linn gave him a set of glass lantern slides. King then donated the slides to the university. King also made 35mm slides of the images for a presentation before the Alachua County Historical Society in 1978. He created a similar slideshow for an open house at the Florida State Museum (now the Florida Museum of Natural History) in October 1980. The 35mm slides were removed from the R.T. King Photograph Collection and moved to the Alexander Linn Papers.

Alternative Format Available

Items in this collection have been digitized and are available 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 Library of Congress holds a related collection: The Rev. Alexander Linn / "Our Florida Indians" Slide Show Collection. The collection includes 84 slides and a tape-recorded lecture by Rev. Alexander Linn regarding Seminole Indians of Florida in the period between 1925 and 1945.


Sources consulted by Bridget Bihm-Manuel while writing this finding aid.
  • Oral history interview with Alexander Linn, 23 March 1974, Samuel Proctor Oral History Program.
  • Oral history interview with Alexander Linn, 8 March 1971, Samuel Proctor Oral History Program.

Processing Notes

In 2016, the glass lantern slides were identified, arranged, and numbered as part of the digitization process. The new arrangement is based on the order used by the Library of Congress for its set of glass lantern slides and descriptions of the slides in Linn's oral history interview. The black and white prints and the 35 mm slides follow the same numbering as the glass lantern slides.

A Guide to the Alexander Linn Papers
Finding aid created by Anastasia Bower and Bridget Bihm-Manuel
April 2009
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