Florida Southern College’s Lawton M. Chiles, Jr., Center For Florida History has announced the speakers for its popular Florida history lecture series, which includes experts on writer Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, architect Frank Lloyd Wright and the environmental movement in Florida.

“Due to the growing profile of the series, we have again been able to attract excellent speakers,” said James Denham, the center’s director.

Sept. 14: Ann McCutchan

Author Ann McCutchan begins the monthly series on Sept. 14 in Branscomb Auditorium as she discusses her book “The Life She Wished to Live:  A Biography of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.” Rawlings is the author of the beloved books “The Yearling,” which won the 1939 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and “Cross Creek.”  

Denham describes the book as “the story of a tough, passionate, and independent woman who refused the early 20th-century conventions of her upbringing, Rawlings found her voice in the remote hardscrabble life of Cross Creek, Fla.  Between hunting alligators and managing an orange grove, Rawlings employed her sensitive eye and philosophical spirit to bring to life an unknown corner of America in vivid, tender detail.”

Oct. 5: Clay Henderson

On Oct. 5, sixth-generation Floridian Clay Henderson will take the Branscomb Auditorium stage to discuss land conservation in the Sunshine State. Henderson drafted or sponsored many of the environmental provisions in the Florida Constitution, including the creation of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Everglades Trust Fund.

His 2022 book, “Forces of Nature: A History of Florida Land Conservation,” details Florida’s place as the launching point of the American conservation movement. It also describes the people and organizations that made the Sunshine State a leader in conservation and preservation, including William Bartram and John Muir, who inspired the movement to create national parks and protect the country’s wilderness, along with Marjory Stoneman Douglas and May Mann Jennings.

Nov. 16: Jeff Baker

Mark your calendars for Nov. 16, when New York architect Jeff Baker will discuss Frank Lloyd Wright and the Florida Southern College campus in the historic Annie Pfeiffer Chapel.

“Baker has led the restoration efforts of the Frank Lloyd Wright campus at Florida Southern College since 2007. He has overseen the full realization of the Waterdome based on Wright’s original design, and performed meticulous restoration of the Esplanades, Annie Pfeiffer Chapel, and the Planetarium,” Denham wrote. “The Usonian House, the Carole and Marcus Weinstein Computer Sciences Center, and the currently under construction Adams Athletic Performance Center are only a few of the buildings Baker and his firm Mesick, Cohen, Wilson & Baker, have helped erect in accord with Wright’s design for Florida Southern.”

Denham said Baker has also performed restorations on dozens of other significant historic buildings, including such national treasures as Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, James Madison’s Montpelier, and the President’s House at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. — founded in 1693, one of the oldest universities in the country.

Jan. 18: Christophe Boucher

After a break in December, the series picks up again on Jan. 18 when Christophe Boucher will be in the Hollis Room to talk about “The Fort Caroline Experience: French Colonial Ambitions in  La Florida.” 

The Spanish settled St. Augustine in 1565, making it the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in North America. They set up shop in response to a French Huguenot settlement on the St. Johns River, Fort Caroline. The Spanish eventually destroyed Fort Caroline and massacred its inhabitants, but not before the French sent some of the first detailed artwork of Native Americans in their daily pursuits to Europe.

Boucher, associate professor of history at the College of Charleston, is a specialist in Native American history, Atlantic world history, and French colonial America.

Feb. 8: Andy Huse

The most controversial lecture this year might be Andy Huse’s on Feb. 8 in Branscomb Auditorium when he discusses the history of the Cuban sandwich from his 2022 book “The Cuban Sandwich: A History in Layers.”

Denham states that Huse’s book, co-authored with Jeff Houck and Barbara Cruz “is a fine social history behind how this delicacy became a lunch-counter staple in the U.S. and beyond,” and weaves in a history of Tampa, as well.  

Houck is an expert on Tampa culinary history, having written “From Saloons to Steakhouses: A History of Tampa” and “The Columbia Restaurant: Celebrating a Century of History, Culture and Cuisine.”

March 28: Douglas Brinkley

American historian Douglas Brinkley | Courtesy Douglas Brinkley

The final lecture in the series on March 28 will see renowned American historian Douglas Brinkley return to Florida Southern’s Branscomb Auditorium. He will discuss the Florida aspects of the 1960s environmental movement from his latest book, “Silent Spring Revolution: John F. Kennedy, Rachel Carson, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and the Great Environmental Awakening.”

It is the third installment of his environmental history of America series and tells the story of “an indomitable generation that saved the natural world under the leadership of” Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon.

Brinkley wrote two other works on America’s environmental movement: “Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America” and “Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land of America.”

All lectures begin at 7 p.m. and are free and open to the public. The series is sponsored this year by Historic Lakeland Inc., FSC alumnus Walter W. Manley, II, the family of  Robert and Rose Stahl and WUSF Public Media. The programs will also be available on the FSC YouTube channel.

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Kimberly C. Moore, who grew up in Lakeland, has been a print, broadcast and multimedia journalist for more than 30 years. Before coming to LkldNow in the spring of 2022, she was a reporter for four years with The Ledger, first covering Lakeland City Hall and then Polk County schools. She is the author of “Star Crossed: The Story of Astronaut Lisa Nowak," published by University Press of Florida. Reach her at kimberly@lkldnow.com or 863-272-9250.

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