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Michael Gannon Papers

Identifier: MSS 0343

Scope and Content

The "Michael Gannon Papers" consists of a wide variety of documents evidencing myriad interests and professional endeavors of Dr. Gannon. Series that cover an extensive span of Gannon's life include the Biographical, Autobiography, Correspondence, Writings, and Photographs series; while the Priesthood and Professor series focus more on his output during those professional periods. The Autobiography series is notable as Gannon began work on his autobiography, but did not complete it before retiring from his professional career. This series includes records that could be included in any of the other six series, as well as eight draft chapters of the autobiography. Given that, any research on Gannon, his life, or his work, should include this series, regardless of the topic or timespan.

"Series I: Biographical, early life, and personal documents" dates from 1923 to 2016. This collection focus on Gannon's early life and records that document his life as a whole. Items in this series include biographies and shorter biographical statements; curricula vitae from multiple points throughout his life; oral history interview recordings and transcripts; articles on Gannon, his research, and his activities; correspondence and clippings regarding Gannon's work as an announcer on radio stations such as WIS and WFOY; certificates and correspondence regarding awards and honors conferred upon him; school diplomas and reunion materials; and recordings of a Marineland staff spoof film "Return of the Creature." This series also includes some personal documents such as poetry written by Gannon's father, correspondence, and genealogical material relating to Gannon's family. This series serves to paint the overall picture of Gannon's full life and work.

"Series II: Autobiography" dates from 1927 to 2014.This series was largely compiled by Gannon himself during work towards writing his autobiography, which remains incomplete. Eight draft chapters of the autobiography are included in this series. The rest of the series includes and cross-collection assortment of records documenting virtually all aspects of Gannon's life, careers, work, and accomplishments. Some amount of records from each of the other six series within this collection is found here and, as such, this series should be consulted during research on any aspect of Gannon's life and work.

"Series III: Correspondence and organizational involvement" dates from 1936 to 2015. The bulk of this series consists of correspondence, generally to or from Gannon. Additionally, as many of his records relating to involvement in various societies and projects included a great deal of correspondence, additional records regarding that involvement is included in this series. These records include work with organizations such as Historic St., Augustine (and various incarnations of St. Augustine historical preservation groups), work relating to the Columbus Quincentenary, the De Soto Trail and the Florida Catholic Heritage Trail commissions, and more. Correspondence, programs, and related documents regarding his speaking engagements and similar talks are also included in this series. Due to the nature of the original filing structure, many letters are filed in folders labeled "assorted correspondence," some more structured by last name and some labeled by Gannon as "personal" (though generally not including topics of a personal nature). This series, much like the previous two, cuts across the many eras of Gannon's life and will evidence his great variety of professional and personal involvements.

"Series IV: Priesthood" dates from 1949 to 2004, with bulk dates of 1958 to 1974. This series includes documentation of Gannon's time as a priest with the Diocese of St. Augustine, his time working with the church at the University of Florida, and his religious training at the American College of the Catholic University of Louvain. Included in the series are writings on religious themes, a large collection of Hi-Time magazine (a religion text), and many manuscript and typescript sermons and related notes. There are also notes from his religious trainings at Louvain and materials relating to classmates, alumni relations, and reunions. Some correspondence from Gannon is also included in this series.

"Series V: Professor" dates from 1965 to 2013, with bulk dates of 1970 to 1999. These records relate mostly to Gannon's work at the University of Florida as a professor, though there is some crossover with his university work as a priest. Generally these records relate to courses he taught and committees he served on. Records include course materials, proposals, and syllabi; annual activity reports and related tenure and promotion documentation; committee materials and reports; and assorted correspondence.

"Series VI: Author and historian" dates from 1939 to 2015, with bulk dates of 1960 to 2000. This series includes manuscript and typescript material, as well as correspondence, research notes, some clippings, and more relating to Gannon's authored works. The series is divided into six subseries: "Subseries a: Black May," "Subseries b: Kimmel and King," "Subseries c: Operation Drumbeat," "Subseries d: Pearl Harbor Betrayed," "Subseries e: Other writings and talks," and "Subseries f: Subject and research files." Works documented by a substantial amount of material were given their own subseries (a through d), while all other works are found within "Subseries e." This includes his books The Cross in the Sand, A New History of Florida, Florida: A Short History, Rebel Bishop, Secret Missions (his only novel), and My Friend Zelma (a stage play about the trial of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings); along with articles and book reviews, journal entries and drafts for his "Vietnam Notebook" news series, letters to the editor, speeches and talks, and much more. "Subseries f" includes correspondence, clippings, notes, and other material on subjects of interest to Gannon. Many, but not all, relate to works he published. Of note here is the extensive collection of translations of documents relating to Juan Márquez Cabrera, an early governor of Spanish Florida.

"Series VII: Photographs and other media" dates from 1907 to 2010, with bulk dates of 1928 to 1990. This series contains mostly photographs that were found in the collection during processing, generally without much context to them. Efforts have been made to identify people and places in the photographs during follow-up meetings with Michael Gannon. These records trace Gannon's life, including his family, and his works across all phases of his life and various professions. Photographs are not strictly sorted, but rather generally grouped together into the various phases of Gannon's life, with a rough chronological order within those groupings.


  • Creation: 1923-2017


Language of Materials

Includes materials written in English, Spanish, and German.


This collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

Michael V. Gannon (born April 28, 1927 - died April 11, 2017) was a distinguished service professor emeritus at the University of Florida, specializing in Florida history and World War II military history. Gannon grew up in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and spent his high school years in St. Augustine, Florida. He began his career in radio, where he developed a broadcast voice that eventually become a trademark of his lectures and public talks. He entered the seminary in the 1950s and was ordained a Catholic priest in 1959, serving as pastor of the Catholic Student Center, St. Augustine Church, Gainesville, and receiving his Ph.D. in history from UF for what would become his first book, Rebel Bishop: The Life and Era of Augustin Verot (1964). In 1968 he went to Viet Nam as a war correspondent to report the impact of the war first-hand in articles in The Gainesville Sun, The Florida Catholic, and other media.

Gannon left the priesthood in 1976 and became a full-time professor of history at UF, teaching for 36 years and was especially noted for his courses in Florida history. He is the editor of The History of Florida (University Press of Florida, 2013), the definitive history of the state, along with three other single-author works on Florida's history. His naval histories of World War II include the bestsellers Operation Drumbeat (1990), a history of Germany's first U-boat operations along the American Coast in World War II, and Black May (1998), about the Allies' defeat of the German U-boat fleet in May 1943.

During the tenure of President Stephen O'Connell at the University of Florida, Gannon interceded between law enforcement and student anti-war demonstrators to calm conditions on campus He was host of WUFT's TV series Conversation (1975-1987) in which he interviewed notable public figures of the day, including writer and columnist William F. Buckley, Senator George McGovern, and actor John Houseman. He is especially noted for his entertaining and masterful public lectures on history. Especially popular are his "History of Florida in 40 Minutes" (released as a book and CD by University Presses of Florida in 2013) and his semi-biographical reminiscence of life in St. Augustine, Florida, during World War II.

Gannon headed the Institute for Early Contact Period Studies at UF and helped lead the Florida-Spain Alliance, which attracted funds and promoted the university's initiatives in Spanish colonial archaeology and history and underwrote funding for graduate students to study in Spain. With colleague and fellow historian Eugene Lyon, he was instrumental in building UF's collection of primary source material on Spanish colonial Florida and served as a major university spokesperson during the 1992 Columbus Quincentennial, the 2013 500th anniversary of the naming of Florida, and the 2015 450th anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine. In 1990 he was honored by King Juan Carlos I of Spain with the title Knight Commander of the Order of Isabel la Católica. Other honors include the University of Florida President's Medallion, the Florida Lifetime Literary Achievement Award, bestowed by Governor Charlie Crist (2010), the Order of la Florida, awarded by the City of St. Augustine (2007), the Florida Historical Society's Lifetime Achievement Award (2004), the Stewards of Heritage Award (1998) by the Florida Archaeological Council, and the Distinguished Alumni Professor Award (1979) from the University of Florida National Alumni Association, among others.


38.51 Linear feet (70 boxes and 4 oversize folders)


Writings, research notes, correspondence, photographs, biographical materials, and other papers of Michael V. Gannon, the noted historian, radio commentator, former priest, and emeritus professor of the University of Florida.


This collection is arranged into seven series: "Series I: Biographical, early life, and personal documents," "Series II: Autobiography," "Series III: Correspondence and organizational involvement," "Series IV: Priesthood," "Series V: Professor," "Series VI: Author and historian," and "Series VII: Photographs and other media." Series I-VI are topical in nature and arranged alphabetically. Series VI is further subdivided into six subseries. Series VII contains mostly photographs that were found in the collection during processing, generally without much context to them. Efforts have been made to identify people and places in the photographs during follow-up meetings with Michael Gannon. Photographs are generally grouped together into the various phases of Gannon's life, with a rough chronological order within those groupings.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Alternative Format Available

Digital reproductions of selected items in the Michael Gannon Papers 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 Conversation Collection - An interview format television series broadcast on WUFT-TV in the 1970s and 1980s. Produced and hosted by Michael Gannon.

Processing Notes

This collection was heavily weeded during processing due to the nature of the records transferred to the university. Items that were removed from the collection include: unannotated typescripts and printers' proofs for published works, clippings, and photocopies of microfilmed records and published works available elsewhere. Additionally, some records were transferred into the UF University Archives Collections and a significant amount of records were returned to the Diocese of St. Augustine as they pertained specifically to church history and operations.

A Guide to the Michael Gannon Papers
Finding aid created by Steve Duckworth and Jim Cusick
September 2016
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