FL Environment and Natural History Collections

Over the last several years, Special Collections has collected original materials documenting the environmental history of Florida and beyond. Collections centered on Tampa Bay, which comprise a significant portion of the  Florida Environment and Natural History Research Collections, are extraordinarily relevant to coastal communities around the world as a case study and a model for “lessons learned” in the conservation of estuarine quality and ecological services.

In collaboration with Associate Professor Ann Hodgson, Special Collections is actively collecting materials documenting the efforts of scientists, government officials, and concerned citizens to document the fragile natural beauty of Florida’s environment. We invite professors and scholars to engage in research, teaching, and data aggregation projects using our environmental materials.

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Archival Collections


Aerial photograph of TampaThe Skip Gandy Photograph Collection

A collection of over 500,000 negatives shows the development of the Tampa Bay area as captured by George S. “Skip” Gandy IV, the leading aerial photographer in central Florida from the 1960s through 2005. These photographs richly document the regional environmental changes from the time when Tampa Bay was at its most significant environmental downturn to the era of the present day restoration story.

Click here to access the collection’s finding aid »


Snowy EgretAudubon Florida Records

Wildlife warden reports, logs, studies, field notes, research documents, publications, and correspondence comprise Special Collections’ extensive holdings of Audubon Florida and its statewide sanctuaries.

Click here to access the finding aid for Audubon Florida »

Click here to access the finding aid for the Robert Porter Allen Audubon Collection >>

Click here to access the finding aid for Florida Coastal Islands Sanctuaries >>

Click here to access the finding aid for Audubon Everglades Science Center Research Materials >>

Click here to access the finding aid for the Florida Audubon Society Slide Collection >>

Click here to access the finding aid for Lorida Audubon Collection >>


Image of Gandy Bridge constructionRoy R. “Robin” Lewis, III Papers

A key scientist and activist in Tampa Bay’s recovery, Lewis’ expertise included the ecology, management, restoration, and creation of fresh and saltwater marshes, mangrove forests, forested freshwater forests, and seagrass meadows. He also studied the effects of oil spills on coastal ecosystems, plant and animal colonization of dredged material islands, marine and estuarine fish use of restored tidal wetlands, and experimental revegetation of wetlands using both marine and freshwater species. Lewis published more than 100 papers on these subjects, and served as the editor of Creation and Restoration of Coastal Plant Communities, published by CRC Press in 1982.

Click here to access the collection’s finding aid »


TBE-1963Jan Platt Papers

Janice Kaminis Platt (Jan K. Platt) served as a member of the Tampa City Council from 1974-1978 before being elected to the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, where she held office from 1978-1994. As an active County Commissioner, Platt fought to protect the environment, keep government honest, and assure balanced, managed growth. Concerns over Tampa Bay helped to elect Platt, and her steadfast efforts ensured continued electoral support. Her efforts in favor of growth planning, resource reclamation, and environmental stewardship ensured a close working relationship with the citizens, officials, and scientists who wanted to make a difference.

Click here to access the collection’s finding aid »

Frank M. Dunstan Slide Collection

Inspired by the first Earth Day in 1970, Frank M. Dustan decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania. After completing his degree, Dunstan moved to the Tampa Bay area in 1973 and served as warden/biologist for the National Audubon Society’s Tampa Bay Sanctuaries’ wildlife sanctuaries until 1977. During this time, Dunstan published several articles on wetland and avian ecology and conservation. Dunstan continued his environmental work in the Northeast where he held several positions, including Urban Forestry Program Coordinator with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and the Vice President and Director of the Sanctuary Department with the National Audubon Society.

Click here to access the collection’s finding aid »


Digital Collections

Florida Environment and Natural History Collections Hub

This virtual tour is designed to introduce the University of South Florida Libraries Florida Environment and Natural History Collections (FLENH).

Click here to access the virtual tour »

Tampa Bay Estuary Oral History Project

Generously funded by the Tampa Electric Company, this oral history project pairs the memories of the bay’s most important stewards with  written sources collected by the USF Libraries. All interviews were conducted by ecologist Dr. Ann Hodgson.

Click here to access this collection of video oral history interviews »

Environmental Land Acquisition and Protection Program Collection

The Jan K. Platt Environmental Land Acquisition and Protection Program (ELAPP) has protected over 61,000 acres of rare and important habitat in Hillsborough County, FL.

Click here to access the collection online >>

Audubon Florida Tavernier Research Papers

Digitized images of the Audubon’s research and conservation efforts.

Click here to access the collection online>>


We invite all scholars to explore our collections and use these materials in their research. In particular, we encourage faculty to initiate research projects that will facilitate access to these collections, including but not limited to:

  • Creating data sets and/or databases from the uncompiled research data contained in the collections
  • Using data to create maps and visual aids
  • Helping select materials for digitization and dissemination
  • Identifying incrementally sized research projects using the available materials

For More Information:

Contact Special Collections: 813-974-2731 or e-mail: spcinfo@usf.edu