Distinguished Speaker Series

This lecture series presents a unique and diverse roster of distinguished speakers. Topics focus on items of historical significance to Key West and the Florida Keys. Presenters are top experts in their subject matter and want to share their research with you. We record these lectures and make them available to the public for educational purposes.

The project is sponsored in part by the Helmerich Trust and the Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Council of the Arts and Culture and the State of Florida. Additional support provided by the Marriott Key West Beachside Resort.

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VIRTUAL Distinguished Speaker Series | The Legacy of Franklin Roosevelt’s WPA in Florida by David Schmidt Thursday, March 4, 2021, from 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was one of FDR’s most wide-ranging, yet controversial programs. Many saw it as a “make work’ program that did not accomplish its goals—the acronym […]

VIRTUAL Distinguished Speaker Series | Presidents in Florida by James Clark Thursday, March 18, 2021, from 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm George Washington had nothing but trouble with Florida. Thomas Jefferson tried to steal it. Abraham Lincoln hoped it would win him re-election. Three men came to Florida to fight and ended up in the […]


Distinguished Speaker Series | Key West’s Black History: Shaping an Island with Cori Convertito Monday, November 8, 2021, from 6 pm to 7 pm at the Key West Library This is a HYBRID lecture.  Attendees can participate in person (maximum of 40 people on a first come, first served basis) OR livestream of the event […]

VIRTUAL Distinguished Speaker Series | Seeking the American Tropics: South Florida’s Early Naturalists by James A. Kushlan Thursday, November 11, 2021, from 4 pm to 5 pm Dr. James A. Kushlan’s book, Seeking the American Tropics: South Florida’s Early Naturalists reveals the stories of explorers, pioneers, naturalists, and scientists who over centuries unveiled the tropical […]

VIRTUAL Distinguished Speaker Series | Disease and Its Impact on Key West History by Fred Borch Thursday, December 16, 2021, from 4 pm to 5 pm As Key West grew in population in the early to mid-1800s, a number of incurable diseases were a constant threat to the city. Historian Fred Borch talks about how cholera, […]

Distinguished Speaker Series | Stories from the Front Porch with Wayne Garcia Join us for an evening of ‘Stories from the Front Porch’ with Key West native and folk artist Wayne Garcia. He will delight the audience with Key West tales of family and frequent visitors his family’s house at 820 Simonton Street. His stories […]


DSS | José Martí: A Revolutionary Life by Dr. Alfred López Thursday, March 3, 2022, from 6 pm – 7 pm, at the San Carlos Institute José Martí was the founding hero of Cuban independence. In all of modern Latin American history, arguably only the “Great Liberator” Simón Bolívar rivals Martí in stature and legacy. […]


VIRTUAL DSS | Conservation and Compromise, Dry Tortugas Thursday, June 9, 2022, from 4 pm – 5 pm EST Alice Leese, a painter and professional artist, is also a working rancher on her family ranch. In her presentation, she will discuss the many ways her creative practice integrates the ecological stewardship of delicate environments such […]

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