Life and Death in Colonial St. Augustine: The Parish Records, 1594-1840.

La Florida's opening exhibit focuses on the parish documents from the Diocese of St. Augustine records. Dating back to 1594, these remarkable ecclesiastical records document the births, confirmations, marriages, and deaths of the city's residents, providing a unique window into St. Augustine's daily life. The entire colonial archive, which highlights the city’s multi-racial character, appears here, including a digitized copy of the so-called Golden Book of the Minorcans.

A sample page from 1594 offers a glimpse of how these unique and valuable documents will be displayed. Soon, more pages will follow as we work through the entire collection.

At La Florida, our long-term goal is to make these records accessible to a global audience and to capture the information contained within them. Users will be able to view transcriptions simply by scrolling over words, letters, and abbreviations, and full transcriptions and translations will appear in the margin. The transcription tool will provide valuable training for those who wish to improve their Spanish, English, and Latin paleography. Simultaneously, the people who emerge from these records will become a part of our People database, allowing users to link individuals to their actual historical records.

About the Digitization Process:

In 2012, under the supervision of Jane Landers, David LaFevor, Pablo F. Gomez, and J. Michael Francis, USFSP graduate students Saber Gray and Arthur Tarratus began a ten-month project to digitize St. Augustine's ecclesiastical records of the colonial period. The complete collection of (more than 9,000 images) and some sample transcriptions can be found at Vanderbilt University's outstanding Slave Societies Digital Archive (https://www.vanderbilt.edu/esss/spanishflorida/index.php).

We are grateful to the Diocese of St. Augustine, Bishop Felipe J. Estévez, Father Tom Willis and the Sisters of St. Joseph for making this exhibit possible. We extend our special thanks to Sister Catherine Bitzer, who worked with us through every stage of this project.