Skip to main content

Edward W. Lawson Collection

Identifier: Ms 061

Scope and Content

The first section in this collection consists of Lawson's correspondence with other historians, friends, and publishing organizations from 1938 to 1950. The next major section contains notes and materials from his research projects. Notable topics include Juan Ponce de León and Luciano de Herrera, and most topics deal with Spanish colonial St. Augustine. The third section contains a group of translations and transcriptions from numerous archives. This section includes translations of some of Woodbury Lowery's transcriptions entitled "Spanish Manuscripts" found in microfilm in the Library of Congress. There are also a number of transcripts from the British colonial period from the Public Records Office. These colonial office documents include numerous letters between the governors and lieutenant governors of Florida and the Secretary of State. Another part of this section contains translations of documents from the Archivo General de Indias. The vast majority of these transcriptions and translations deal with colonial St. Augustine.

The next section contains plays, novels, speeches, short stories, and radio programs, most of which were authored by Lawson. There is an English translation of Calderon de la Barca's "The Loving and Loyal Friend." Also included are manuscripts for several books by Lawson including: Ponce de Leon (1939), The Discovery of Florida and its Discoverer Ponce de Leon, and an unpublished novel entitled A Partner of the King. The speeches and radio programs deal mostly with St. Augustine history. Examples of Lawson's short stories include: "The Pioneer Mother," "Fountain of Youth," and "A Florida Christmas Tree."

The next section contains depositions and proceedings from a libel case that was of interest to Lawson. The case of Walter B. Fraser v. Curtis Publishing started in 1949 when the Curtis Publishing Company published an article in the Saturday Evening Post questioning the authenticity of the Oldest Wooden School House in the U.S. and its owner Walter B. Fraser. The case dragged on until 1955 when a settlement was reached. Deponents in the case included Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Norton Baskin, and J. Van Campen. Their depositions, as well as descriptions of the court proceedings, are contained in this collection.

The collection includes descriptions of historically important sites in St. Augustine, arranged an alphabetically. Notable topics among the miscellaneous material in the collection include Lawson's dispute with the St. Augustine Historical Society over the age of the Oldest House, and various publications concerning St. Augustine history. In the final section there is an assortment of note-cards that Lawson amassed as part of his research and his time at the St. Augustine Historical Society. Some of the notecards are unofficial meeting minutes for the Society.


  • Creation: 1566-1960
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1929-1960



The collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

Edward W. Lawson was born in New York in 1881. Although trained as an engineer in New Jersey, after moving to St. Augustine in 1922 he quickly became associated with the St. Augustine Historical Society as a translator of Spanish-language materials. Lawson continued to work with the historical society, publishing translations of letters of the founder of St. Augustine, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, and documents relative to the evacuation of Florida by the Spaniards (1763-1764). He was a controversial figure, however, because in 1957 he published an attack on the society entitled The St. Augustine Historical Society and its "Oldest House": a documented study in fabricated history. As a result of this publication Lawson was expelled from the society. He died three years later (1960) in St. Augustine.


9 Linear feet (21 boxes)

Language of Materials



Lawson was a prominent amateur historian in the St. Augustine Historical Society. The collection contains his research, correspondence, unofficial society meeting minutes, and assorted legal documents.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Acquisition Information

Gift of Robert J. Hinners.

Related Material

Documents relative to the evacuation of Florida by the Spanish: 1763-1764. Spanish typescripts presented to St. Augustine Historical Society- Translated by Edward Lawson. Florida History (Non-Circulating) F.2 S11 D637

Lawson, Edward W. The St. Augustine Society and its "oldest house": A documented study of fabricated history. 1957. Located in Smathers Special Collections-Florida History F.2 S11 L425s

A Guide to the Edward W. Lawson Collection
Finding aid created by Stephen Jackson
September 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