Local and Family History Collections

Special Collections maintains a number of archival, manuscript, and photographic collections that document Tampa’s rich history.
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Hillsborough County Marriage Records

Dates: 1846 – 1988 Description: Marriage licenses, record books, and indices on deposit from the Clerk of the Hillsborough County Circuit Court. Click here to access records from 1878 – 1893 online »

Funeral Home Records

Description: In 1998, the Tampa firm of Blount, Curry and Roel donated the records of the F.T. Blount Funeral Home, the A.P. Boza Funeral Home, and the Lord & Fernandez Funeral Home. Also present are records for the Garden of Memories Cemetery, which Blount acquired in 1984. Coverage: F.T. Blount Funeral Home records: March 1924 – October 1991. A.P. Boza Funeral Home records: January 1929 – October 1991. Also includes an index of clients buried in West Tampa’s Martí / Colon Cemetery and forms generated by Boza’s Riverside and Town & Country branches between June 1987 and October 1989. Lord & Fernandez Funeral Home records: May 1947 – May 1951; January 1959 – March 1976. The forms, maintained chronologically by date, do not have a surname index. Garden of Memories records: February 1984 – January 1989.

Aerial Photographs

Coverage: Hillsborough County: 1938, 1957, 1960, 1966, 1972, 1976, 1988; DeSoto County: 1943, 1958; Hardee County: 1943, 1958; Polk County: 1941, 1943, 1958. Description: This collection of aerial photographs originally came from the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser’s Office. The 1938 and 1957 sets are partial, lacking many of the pictures covering the urban core and other areas of major development. The 1960 and subsequent sets are almost entirely complete, although some photos are missing from those sets as well. The 1938, 1957, 1960, 1966, and 1988 sets cover the entire county, while in 1976 and 1991, only selected areas were photographed. In 1966 and 1972, the whole county was photographed, but additional, more tightly focused coverage was provide for selected areas. All of the aerial photos in this collection are black and white. The 1938 and 1957 aerials are small (9 ¼ x 9 ¼ inch) positive prints on paper. They were taken from high altitude and are 1:20,000 scale. The other sets are comprised of large mylar sheets resembling giant photographic negatives; they range in size from 20 x 30 inches for the 1960 set to 36 x 30 inches for 1991. The 1960-1991 images vary considerably in scale. The 1991 set covers only a very limited area of the county, and the individual sheets vary from 1:100 to 1:200. The aerial photographs are retrieved using key maps that are marked to show the area each map sheet covers and the location code number for the sheet. There are individual key maps for 1938, 1957, 1960, 1988, and 1991, and the location codes for photos covering a given area varies from year to year. The aerials for 1966, 1972, and 1976 use a single key map, so the photos covering a given area will have the same location code for all three years. Only the Hillsborough County aerials are indexed.

Burgert Brothers Collection of Tampa Photographs

Dates: 1846-1960s (bulk 1920s-1930s) Description: Al and Jean Burgert established the pioneer, commercial photography studio Burgert Brothers in Tampa around 1917. Primarily focusing on the Tampa Bay area—including Ybor City, Port Tampa, Temple Terrace and Ballast Point—Burgert Brothers photographers captured Tampa’s development from small town to major city, with images of people, churches, residencies, street scenes, and businesses. Click here to access the collection online »

Robertson and Fresh Collection of Tampa Photographs

Dates: 1930s-1960s Description: The Robertson and Fresh commercial photographic firm was active in Tampa from 1932 to 1960. William Vernon “Red” Robertson shot photographs while Harry Fresh processed and printed the images. The Robertson and Fresh Photographs provide a visual record of Tampa from the Depression to the prosperous post-WWII era. Click here to access the collection online »

Centro Asturiano de Tampa Collection

Dates: 1900-1984 Extent: 147 linear feet (228 boxes) Description: Founded in 1902 by Spanish immigrants, the Centro Asturiano mutual aid society was established as a branch of a similarly named organization in Havana, Cuba. Collection items include: the society’s complete membership rolls; cemetery and hospital records; an impressive selection of photographs, many of which have been digitized and made available online; and books from the society’s library. Click here to access the collection’s finding aid »

Centro Español de Tampa Collection

Dates: 1893-1955 Extent: 33 linear feet (192 boxes) Description: This collection consists of more than 100 record books, chronicling club activities between the 1890s and the 1950s, financial records, and correspondence. The Centro Español de Tampa was the first mutual aid society established in Ybor City. Today, its club building is recognized as a National Historic Landmark. Click here to access the collection’s finding aid »

Círculo Cubano de Tampa (Cuban Club) Collection

Dates: 1852-2002 Extent: 11.5 linear feet (37 boxes) Description: Donated in June 2000, the Círculo Cubano de Tampa collection primarily includes meeting notes, photographs, programs and correspondence. Founded in 1899, the Círculo Cubano continues to facilitate the preservation of Cuban heritage in the Tampa Bay area. Click here to access the collection’s finding aid »

L’Unione Italiana (Italian Club) Records

Dates: 1900-1989 Extent: 4 boxes, 12 ledgers Description: L’Unione Italiana (The Italian Club of Tampa) was established in 1894. This collection of records consists of club publications, membership and cemetery records, business meeting minutes, correspondence, and photographs. Click here to access the collection’s finding aid »

Sociedad La Uníon Martí-Maceo Records

Dates: 1902-1964 Extent: 15 linear feet (18 boxes) Description: Named after Cuban war heroes Jose Martí and General Antonio Maceo, La Sociedad la Uníon Martí-Maceo was founded in 1900 by Cuban immigrants of African descent. The records of this mutual aid society include organizational papers, speeches, and a small array of publications. A number of books from the society’s library also comprise part of the collection. Click here to access the collection’s finding aid »

Tony Pizzo Collection

Dates: 1900-1994 Extent: 141 linear feet (245 boxes) Description: Anthony P. “Tony” Pizzo (also known as “Mr. Ybor City”) made it his mission to preserve the history of Tampa’s cigar community. In 1982, the Pizzo family began transferring Tony’s private research library of books, journals, printed ephemera, manuscripts, photographs, and other materials to the USF Libraries Special Collections. Pizzo’s collection documents the rich, multicultural past of his native Ybor City and particularly emphasizes the cigar manufacturing industry. A broad and varied base of source materials for the study of all aspects of Tampa life, the Pizzo collection also consists of an assortment of research materials related to major Ybor City and West Tampa cigar factories. Items of interest include: artifacts, cigar box labels and bands, cigar boxes, and pamphlets and brochures. There are numerous visual images, dating from the 1880s through the 1990s, and a great many items, such as bolita balls and a humidor from the Sanchez y Haya cigar factory, that are unique in nature. Click here to access the collection’s finding aid »

Stokes Collection of Florida Plant Railway Photographs

Dates: 1895 Description: Professional photographer C. H. Stokes found his subjects along the route of the old Orange Belt Railway. Incorporated in 1893, the Sanford & St Petersburg Railroad took over the older railway’s properties, and then became part of the Plant System in 1895. Both railway companies used the photographs to promote tourism and development. Click here to access the collection online »

Wehman Collection of Florida Spanish American War Photographs

Dates: 1898 Description: A collection of Spanish American War photographs collected by the Wehman family. Click here to access the collection online »

Works Progress Administration (WPA) Tampa Office Papers

Dates: 1917-1943 Extent: 24 linear feet (39 boxes) Description: The bulk of this collection consists of manuscripts and revised typescripts of the Florida edition of the American Guide Series; drafts and revisions pertain to Hillsborough County, particularly the city of Tampa, with a substantial number of essays on Ybor City and its immigration history. Correspondence and research by Stetson Kennedy, one of the project’s chief editors, is included. Also included are the correspondence and records of the daily activities of Carita Doggett Corse, who served as the director of the Florida Writer’s Project in 1935. Click here to access the collection’s finding aid » Click here to access portions of the collection online »

Sape A. Zylstra Collection of Tampa Architectural Slides

Description: Dr. Sape Zylstra has constructed within this collection a glimpse of the first century of Tampa’s rich architectural history. From the earliest schoolhouse built by General Jesse Carter for his daughter to a Post-Modern home constructed by notable Tampa architect Eduardo Garcia, we get a peek at the fertile divergence of cultures drawn to Tampa. Click here to access the collection online »

Morison Buck Biographies of Hillsborough County Judges

Dates: 1997-2005 Description: Morison Buck, a native of Memphis, Tennessee, practiced law in Tampa from 1948 to 1977. He served as a United States Commissioner, as Tampa’s Assistant City Attorney, as a Circuit Judge and, beginning in 1991, as a Mediator for state and federal courts. The collection includes copies of “Chips off the Old Bench” columns written by Judge Buck for the Hillsborough County Bar Association. Click here to access the collection online »

Florida Genealogical Society – Tampa Records

Dates: 1958-2000 Extent: 4.5 linear feet (7 boxes, 2 bound items) Description: Established in Tampa on January 22, 1958, the Florida Genealogical Society states as its purpose: “To honor the memory of our forefathers. To search out and complete the broken lines of our descent. To acquire and preserve records of Genealogy and related History.” The collection consists of the society’s business records, yearbooks, photographs and publications. Click here to access the collection’s finding aid »