Printed Works on Early Florida

A Presentation of Sources for HIS 3421 Florida to 1860

The P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History is a recognized center for the study of colonial and antebellum Florida. The majority of the source material is microfilmed documents collected and assembled from other institutions. However, the library also has a substantial manuscript collection related to the antebellum Florida, the Second Seminole War, and Florida during the Civil War. In addition, the book and map collections contain many early printed works on the area (with more in the Hanson Rare Books Collection). Presented here are a sample of printed works made available to classes on the history of Florida between 1500 and 1860.

La Florida 1584


Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598)

La Florida.  Antwerp.  From Additamentum to the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, 1584.

Based on accounts of the expedition of Hernando de Soto in the American Southeast.

Abraham Ortelius  was appointed to the position of geographer and mapmaker for King Philip II of Spain in 1575.  His world atlas, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, was first published in 1570 and was printed in more than thirty different editions and had numerous supplements, or additatmenta. This map of Florida occurred in the third supplement in 1584.  Like many writers of the time, Ortelius relied on accounts he had read, as well as information contributed by his friends, to compose the maps in the Theatrum. La Florida features the names of many of the Native American towns recorded in the chronicles of the conquistador Hernando de Soto. His armed expedition landed at Tampa Bay in 1539 and marched across much of the American Southeast for the next four years. Pitched combats between de Soto’s men and indigenous groups, along with diseases that his expedition brought and spread, took the lives of thousands of native people.  Cofitacehqui (Catilacheque), one of the principal towns de Soto went to before circling back to the west, is depicted in between the rivers Sero and Helena, east of modern-day Columbia, South Carolina. In the Additamentum, La Florida is paired with a map of a portion of Mexico, labeled Guastecan, which we have in our map collection. A pocket-sized Italian translation of the Theatrum (1612) is also held in the Rare Book Collection.


A History of Florida through New World Maps, Dana Ste. Claire (editor) (University Press of Florida, 1995)

The De Soto Chronicles, The Expedition of Hernando de Soto to North America in 1539-1543, Volume I, Lawrence A. Clayton, Vernon James Knight, Jr., and Edward C. Moore (editors) (University of Alabama Press, 1993).


1591 Frontpiece DeBry


Theodor de Bry (1528 – 1598)

Der ander Theil, der newlich erfundenen Landschafft Americae, von dreyen Schiffahrten, so die Frantzosen in Floridam.  From the Grandes Voyages. Part 2, German version. Frankfurt, 1591.

Theodor de Bry (1528 – 1598) was a Dutch goldsmith, engraver, and publisher. In 1590 he began what was to be a popular multi-volume set of books known as the Grand and Petite Voyages, or Collected travels in the East Indies and West Indies (sometimes referred to as the Americae), which he and his heirs produced over a period of 44 years (1590-1634). Like Ortelius before him, de Bry re-published the works of earlier authors about their voyages to the Americas, creating high-quality volumes illustrated with his own engravings. In producing this history of European explorations, de Bry marketed two editions, one in German, intended for purchase in Protestant areas, and another in Latin, intended for Catholic buyers.

The second volume of Grand Voyages, published in 1591, covered the French colonization of Florida and South Carolina in 1562 and 1564. It was derived from various sources and illustrated with 42 prints depicting the Timucua-speaking native peoples of northern Florida.  We now know that de Bry’s ideas for the prints came from accounts of several different explorations – John White’s of the Virginia colony at Roanoke, Hans Staden’s of life among the Tupinambá Indians of Brazil, and Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues, a member of the short-lived French colony in Florida. The edition shown here is the German edition.


The Getty Museum Collection



Herrera Frontpiece


Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas (1549-1625?)

Historia general de los hechos de los castellanos en las Islas i Tierra Firme del Mar Oceano

Madrid Emplenta Real, 1601-15; 9 v. in 4. 14 fold. maps. 29 cm.

The first 4 decades and the Descripción were printed in 1601 by Juan Flamenco. The last 4 decades, continuing the history from 1532 to 1554, were printed in 1615 by Juan de la Cuesta.

Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas (1549 – 1625?) was court historian for Kings Phillip II, III, and IV of Spain during Spain’s Golden Age.  He is best known for his history of Spanish exploration and conquest, La Historia General de los Hechos de los Castellanos en las Islas y Tierra Firme del Mar Océano, produced in 1601 and 1615.  The Historia General was tremendously influential, translated into numerous languages, and became a basic source of dates and events in the Spanish Conquest. Arranged chronologically by year, it begins with the voyages of Christopher Columbus and covers all the major Spanish campaigns into Mexico, Peru, and the Americas, including Juan Ponce de León’s voyage to Florida and the entradas of Panfilo Narvaez and Hernando de Soto into the Southeast. So influential was this work that its mistakes carried over into subsequent histories. The first voyage of Ponce de León, for example, was incorrectly reported as being in 1512, and this error was repeated in Spanish and English works throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. Cartographic knowledge was tightly controlled in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Iberia, and the sparseness of the Historia’s maps might have been intentional. The maps include extensions to the Pacific and East Asia, products of Spain’s efforts to claim the broader Pacific as an area of influence.


Early Visions of Florida (USF)

Biblioteca Nacional de España

Ricardo Padron, The Indies of the Setting Sun: How Early Modern Spain Mapped the Far East as Transpacific West (University of Chicago Press, 2020).


Anoldus Montanus Atlas

Arnoldus Montanus (1625 – 1683)

Die Unbekante Neue Welt, oder Beschreibung des Welt-teils Amerika, und des Sud-Landes: Darinnen vom Vhrsprunge der Ameriker und Sudländer und von den gedenckwürdigen Reysen der Europer darnach zu. Wie auch von derselben Festen Ländern, Inseln, Städten, Festungen, Dörfern, vornähmsten Gebeuen, Bergen, Brunnen, Flüssen und Ahrten der Tiere, Beume, Stauden, und anderer fremden Gewächse

German version, Amsterdam, 1673.

John Ogilby English edition:

Arnoldus Montanus (1625-1683) was a Dutch cartographer, theologian and author, whose popular 1671 atlas came with the jaw-breaking title of De nieuwe en onbekende weereld, of, Beschryving van America en ‘t zuid-land : vervaetende d’oorsprong der Americaenen en zuid-landers, gedenkwaerdige togten derwaerds, gelegendheid der vaste kusten, eilanden, steden, sterkten, dorpen, tempels, bergen, fonteinen, stroomen, huisen, de natuur van beesten, boomen, planten en vreemde gewasschen, Gods-dienst en zeden, wonderlijke voorvallen, vereeuwde en nieuwe oorloogen: verciert met af-beeldsels na ‘t leven in America gemaekt, or The New and Unknown World: or Description of America and the Southland, Containing the Origin of the Americans and South-landers, remarkable voyages thither, Quality of the Shores, Islands, Cities, Fortresses, Towns, Temples, Mountains, Sources, Rivers, Houses, the nature of Beasts, Trees, Plants and foreign Crops, Religion and Manners, Miraculous Occurrences, Old and New Wars. Like the earlier works of de Bry and Herrera (on which Montanus partially based his atlas) this work was extremely popular and lavishly illustrated with 125 prints. The work quickly became known to English-speaking readers through the English translation by John Ogilby (1600-1676) which came out in 1671. A German translation, the one we hold in the library, came out in 1673. The atlas contains a section on Florida with illustrations of the Timucua that are based on de Bry.


The Library of Congress:

The College of St. George


John Bartram's Journal

William Stork and John Bartram (1699-1777)

A description of East-Florida, with a Journal, kept by John Bartram of Philadelphia, botanist to His Majesty for the Floridas; upon a journey from St. Augustine up the river St. John’s as far as the lakes.

London, Sold by W. Nicoll etc., 1769

This short but influential work represents the observations and botanical studies of John Bartram, royal botanist, who came to British East Florida in 1765 from his home in Pennsylvania. Bartram was accompanied by his son William, who returned to Florida in 1774 and would eventually pen a major work of his own. In 1765 and 1766 father and son had the opportunity to attend initial meetings between British officials and representatives of the Creeks and Seminoles and also embarked on two months of travel along the St. Johns River. The diary kept by John Bartram became the basis for this report, which was published in London a little after his return to his home and botanical gardens on the outskirts of Philadelphia. His observations about Florida were guaranteed a broad scholarly audience. Bartram corresponded with most of the major figures in natural science of his day and exchanged samples of his botanical collections with fellow naturalists.


Florida History Online:

Early Visions of Florida


Long Warrior from Bartram

William Bartram (1739-1823)

Travels Through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida, the Cherokee Country, the Extensive Territories of the Muscogulges, or Creek Confederacy, and the Country of the Chactaws, etc. Philadelphia: printed by James and Johnson,

Philadelphia printed by James and Johnson, 1791

See a copy at the Library of Congress:

William Bartram is considered a pioneer of natural history and a major figure among early American writers. Travels Through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida, usually known as Travels, was popular from the moment of publication in 1791 and has never gone out of print. Poets of the Romantic era like Samuel Coleridge and William admired the spiritual elements of Bartram’s writing and his descriptions of nature, which found their way into their poems. Most of Travels reflects Bartram’s time in Florida in company with his father, the botanist John Bartram, in the 1760s and his own residence in Florida in the 1770s. Bartram was highly selective about how he portrayed Florida and focused on the natural world rather than on the British plantation economy that was in full-swing at that time. He spent time among the Seminoles and gives a first-hand account of his impressions of their society and culture. As a combination of natural history, ethnography, and literary writing, Travels remains a foundational work in eighteenth-century American literature and has been studied and re-studied as often as any novel from that century.


Ashton Nichols, “Roaring Alligators and Burning Tygers: Poetry and Science from William Bartram to Charles Darwin,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 149, No. 3 (Sep., 2005), pp. 304-315

Daniel L. Schafer, William Bartram and the ghost plantations of British east Florida (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2010)

Gregory A. Waselkov and Kathryn Brand, William Bartram on the Southeastern Indians (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995).

Early Visions of Florida:


Plano de San Augustin de la Florida 1788

Mariano de la Rocque

Full size facsímile: Plano particular de la Ciudad de Sn Agustin de la Florida, &c. Saint Augustine, April 25, 1788. Full size color facsimile of original at the Bureau of Land Management.  With reproduction of the Key.

Map Number: ROS.1788.001.1998.0000

One of the most important maps in St. Augustine’s history, the 1788 Plano Particular by the military engineer Mariano de la Rocque is the most accurate 18th-century plat map of the city. The map has been used by historians and archaeologists for decades to pinpoint the location of colonial era streets, houses, lot lines, and outbuildings, as well as to study colonial architecture. The accompanying key identifies owners of private residences and often shows the layout of houses. The map also depicts such public buildings as the barracks (including the cell block for convict laborers), the hospital, the treasury, the location of the future parish church, and the Castillo de San Marcos. Rocque also designed the facades for the church (now the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine) and the chapel in the Castillo.

This facsimile is a full-scale reproduction of the original hand-drawn city plan at stored at the Bureau of Land Management, Washington, D.C. Through the generosity of the BLM and the PGA/World Golf Village, three facsimiles were placed in Florida, the other two being with the City of St. Augustine and the St. Augustine Historical Society, thus ensuring that the map, in full color, will be easily accessible to scholars in Florida. Keys to the map are held at the George A. Smathers Library, UF, and at the St. Augustine Historical Society.


Joseph F. W. (Joseph Frederick Wallet) Des Barres (1729-1824)

A Plan of the Harbour of Saint Augustine in the Province of Georgia. [Fort Mose section]. 1780. Along with its matching copper plate, used to produce The Atlantic Neptune, Published for the Use of the Royal Navy of Great Britain By Joseph F.W. Des Barres, Esq., Under the Directions of the Right Honorable the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty (London, c. 1800)

With copper plate courtesy of the Florida Historical Society

Map Number: M3.1780.003.1997.18541780

See a copy at the Library of Congress:

The Atlantic Neptune was a massive set of charts and maps showing the ports of British America and based on surveys from the 1770s and 1780s. The Neptune was supposed to be a celebration of Britain’s New World empire; however, relatively few copies ever sold because the work was so expensive and because the loss of the Thirteen Colonies rendered it obsolete. The Neptune had 267 maps, all printed from copper plates like the one on display here. When some surviving plates were discovered in the archives of the British Admiralty during World War II, the Admiralty decided to gift them to Canada and the United States. Thirty plates pertaining to Canada went to Ottawa and the U.S. plates went to organizations in the relevant states. Five depicting Pensacola, St. Andrew’s Bay, and the area around St. Augustine were presented to the Florida Historical Society by the British consul at the Society’s annual meeting in Jacksonville on February 6, 1948.  The Society has loaned the plate here to the P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History so that we can show it to classes.  It is the right-hand panel of a map that would have covered two facing pages. The left side depicted the town of St. Augustine. This panel shows the lands to the north of the city and includes the location of Fort Mose. Although the fort was long abandoned at the time this plate was made, its location remained known. Archaeologists later used this and similar maps to locate the site of the fort.


“The Copperplates of the ‘Atlantic Neptune,’ a complex continuing history,” Christopher Terrell, Curator of Hydrography, National Maritime Museum, London, 1985 (copy on file, P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History)


Jean-Louis Dubroca (1757-ca. 1835)

Vida de J. J. Dessalines, gefe de los negros de Santo Domingo; con notas muy circunstanciadas sobre el origen, carácter y atrocidades de los principales gefes de aquellos rebeldes desde el principio de la insurreccion en 1791

México, M. de Zúñiga y Ontiveros, 1806

2 p. l., 10, 18, <2>, 19-106 p. plates, ports. 21 cm. Includes print portrait of George Biassou.

This publication from Mexico is translated from Dubroca’s La vie de J. J. Dessalines (Paris, 1804) and is a lavishly illustrated account of the slave revolt that turned into the Haitian Revolution. This edition contains the only known image of George Biassou, former slave, military leader in the Haitian Revolution, officer in the Spanish army, and ultimately retired free person of color in St. Augustine, Florida. We do not know if the print in the book was taken from a portrait of Biassou or was simply invented. Although there is no other image of him, he was well-known in St. Augustine, where he was a leader of the free black community and the person responsible for training the men of the town’s Black militia unit. Biassou came to Florida with a large extended family and entourage and his letters and petitions are included in St. Augustine’s late colonial records. He is part of a long tradition of Black military leaders in north Florida. His most famous predecessor was Francisco Menéndez, the enslaved African who escaped from South Carolina to Florida in the early 1700s and became the head of the free black town of Fort Mose. Biassou’s own contemporaries included free people of color who rose to local distinction for opposing the American military occupation of Spanish East Florida during the War of 1812. Among these were Prince Witten, leader of the free black militia; Anna Kingsley, free woman of color, who received a commendation for her role in defending Florida; and Antonio Proctor, interpreter of native languages, who was enslaved at the time of the American invasion and was awarded his freedom for his aid in defending St. Augustine.

Online version through the Hathi Trust:


Jane Landers, Atlantic Creoles in the Age of Revolutions (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2010)

Daniel L. Schafer, Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley : African Princess, Florida Slave, Plantation Slaveowner (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2003)


Naval Report on Negro Fort


United States – Secretary of the Navy

Letter from the Secretary of the Navy, transmitting, in obedience to a resolution of the House of Representatives of the twenty-sixth ultimo, sundry documents relating to the destruction of the Negro fort in East Florida in the month of July, 1816.

15th Cong., 2d sess. House document; No. 119, Washington: E. de Krafft, 1819

See the Library of Congress’s Edition:


United States – Secretary of War

Letter from the Secretary of War, transmitting … : information in relation to the destruction of the Negro fort, in East Florida, in the month of July, 1816, &c.

15th Cong., 2d sess. House; Doc. 122, Washington: E. De Krafft, 1819

See the Library of Congress’s Edition:

During the War of 1812, British forces established a fort at Prospect Bluff on the Apalachicola River along the border of Spanish East and West Florida. To augment their ranks, they put out calls to warriors from the Creeks and escaped slaves to assist them in an invasion of the American South. At the end of the war, the fort and all its weaponry remained in the hands of the runaway slaves who had answered the British summons.

The fort became a major settlement of Black maroons living free of slavery and in charge of their own affairs. U.S. authorities vowed to put an end to the fort and in 1816 sent naval and army forces into Spanish territory to attack it. An artillery shell hit the fort’s powder house, causing an explosion that killed most of the defenders. Two reports to the U.S. Congress give the official American account of the attack.


Nathaniel Millett, The Maroons of Prospect Bluff and their Quest for Freedom in the Atlantic World. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2013.

Matthew Clavin, The Battle of Negro Fort : the Rise and Fall of a Fugitive Slave Community. New York: New York University Press, 2019


Frontpiece Seminole War

Anonymous – Second Seminole War Pamphlets

An authentic narrative of the Seminole War: its causes, rise and progress . . . along with An authentic narrative of the Seminole War and of the miraculous escape of Mrs. Mary Godfrey, and her four female children

New York: D. F. Blanchard, 1836

24 pp.; 21 cm. With frontpiece and fold-out illustration

This pamphlet, or chapbook, is one of three that appeared in 1836 as an inexpensive tract telling people about the opening months of the Second Seminole War.  An Authentic Narrative (which is anything but authentic) appeared in two variations, the second one containing an account of a woman named Mary Godfrey, allegedly taken captive and then freed by a Black maroon fighter among the Seminoles.  It features cover art showing a woman with four daughters holding up her hand in supplication to a Black man, the maroon or run-away slave who was their captor.  It also has a fold-out illustration, with a series of sensational images: “Massacre of the Whites by the Indians and Blacks in Florida.”  The most intriguing thing about this penny-dreadful tract, however, is that none of the images in it were actually created for a story about the Seminole war in Florida. They are all taken from other tracts about other events.  The cover, for example, and several of the panels in the fold-out, were borrowed from a tract about the Nat Turner slave rebellion in Virginia. Others come from tracts about other captivity stories, again reused here. In fact, a close examination of Mary Godfrey’s “four female children” will show that the smallest one, held in her arms, is not a girl at all, but a boy! The story of Mary Godfrey therefore appears to be a hastily put-together fiction, produced to capitalize on the national fascination with the outbreak of war in Florida. An Authentic Narrative does include military reports and letters about events in Florida, but it is a mix of fact and fiction.

Early Visions of Florida, An Authentic Narrative of the Seminole War and of the miraculous escape of Mrs. Mary Godfrey, and her four female children

University of Miami: An Authentic Narrative of the Seminole War, its causes, rise and progress:


The Garland Library of Narratives of North American Indian Captivities, selected and arranged by Wilcomb. E. Washburn, Vol. 52 (Garland Publishing, New York & London, 1977).

James Cusick, Hidden Meanings in a Seminole War Pamphlet,”