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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About the presentation: Dr. Brian Magrane will take the audience back in time to 1622 when the Spanish ruled Florida waters. He will tell the story of the Atocha’s lesser known sister ship, the Buen Jesus y Nuestra Senora del Rosario. Learn about life onboard a small Spanish merchant ship and what was found on […]

Author and National Geographic News Contributing Editor Willie Drye unraveled the fascinating story of the most powerful hurricane in U.S. history in his highly praised book, Storm of the Century: The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. The work of narrative non-fiction, which reads like a novel, has been hailed as the definitive account of this […]

October 19, 2019 – (Key West, FL).  Sail into historic exploration with Key West Art & Historical Society and archaeologist Corey Malcom, Ph.D. What better way to learn about the historic significance of the Key West Bight than taking a morning sail through the Key West Harbor and beyond. Enjoy mimosas, fresh fruit, delicious breakfast […]

Military historian Fred Borch will talk about Key West’s role during World War II. When the war began, the Navy in Key West occupied just 50 acres on the edge of the island. By 1945, Navy operations sprawled across more than 3,200 acres. The Navy spent $70 million in building Key West into what some […]

Military historian Fred Borch will talk about Key West’s role during World War II. When the war began, the Navy in Key West occupied just 50 acres on the edge of the island. By 1945, Navy operations sprawled across more than 3,200 acres. The Navy spent $70 million in building Key West into what some […]

Distinguished Speaker Series | Jeff Stotts: Mid-19th century Key West African American Community The community of Key West in the nineteenth century evolved from many cultural contributions. Most African descendants already living in mainland Florida had escaped prior servitude. Some were multi-generational descendants of freeman from the era of Spanish Florida, who had migrated into […]

Our speaker on January 9th will be none other than Florida East Coast Railway Company Historian, Barry University Adjunct Professor of History and Historian in Residence and Nova Southeastern University Lifelong Learning Institute Adjunct Professor of History Seth H. Bramson. Professor Bramson, who is America’s single most-published Florida history book author, has written five histories […]

Distinguished Speaker Series | The First Peoples of Key West: Archaeology at the Stock Island Site and Beyond Thursday, March 5, 2020, from 6:00pm – 7:00pm Ryan Hark will be discussing his most recent discoveries in studying remains from the Stock Island archaeological site that was once located on a small island northwest of today’s […]

Distinguished Speaker Series | Fred Borch: Key West and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 Thursday, February 13, 2020, from 6:00pm – 7:00pm On October 14, 1962, US Air Force spy planes flying over Cuba discovered that the Soviet Union was assembling medium range ballistic missiles on the island—missiles that could reach most of the […]

Distinguished Speaker Series | Fred Borch: Key West and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 Thursday, February 13, 2020, from 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM On October 14, 1962, US Air Force spy planes flying over Cuba discovered that the Soviet Union was assembling medium range ballistic missiles on the island—missiles that could reach most […]

Join us on January 23rd, for a fascinating talk by Robert J. Wolz about the lack of preparation on the part of all combatants to the role of women as army nurses and the civilian response. Then the organization of the Grand army of the republic (the union veterans and the Civil War) and eight […]

Distinguished Speaker Series | U-boats So Close to Home and The Finest Hours: The Coast Guard’s Greatest Rescue Thursday, March 5, 2020, from 6:00pm – 7:00pm New York Times bestselling author Michael Tougias will appear at the Custom House on Thursday, March 5, 2020, from 6:00pm-7:00pm. He will be giving a two part multi-media presentation. […]

VIRTUAL Distinguished Speaker Series | David L. Sloan: The Haunted Dolls of Bone Island VIRTUAL Webinar on Thursday, October 23, 2020, from 4:00pm-5:00pm Discover the bizarre and fascinating history of haunted dolls in the southernmost city with acclaimed author and ghost hunter, David L. Sloan. From Calusa totems and the mysterious doll heads of Rest […]

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VIRTUAL Distinguished Speaker Series | The First Peoples of Key West: Archaeology at the Stock Island Site and Beyond Virtual Webinar on Thursday, December 3, 2020, from 4:00pm – 5:00pm Ryan Harke will be discussing his most recent discoveries in studying remains from the Stock Island archaeological site that was once located on a small […]

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VIRTUAL Distinguished Speaker Series | 85 Years Old and Still Growing at the Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden Virtual Webinar on Thursday, November 5, 2020, from 4:00 PM-5:00 PM Misha McRAE will be presenting the 84-year history of the Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden from concept in 1934 to the present, […]

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VIRTUAL Distinguished Speaker Series | Key West in the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s: A History of Revolution and Change Thursday, December 17, 2020, from 4:00 pm-5:00 pm Key West in the last three decades of the nineteenth century was a unique piece of America. Cuban revolutionaries on the island organized their struggle against Spanish rule […]

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VIRTUAL Distinguished Speaker Series | The Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson, A History Thursday, January 14, 2021, from 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm For over five centuries, the Dry Tortugas and its reefs provided the setting for the stories of pirates and privateers, soldiers and sailors, lighthouses and shipwrecks, naturalists and prisoners, fishers and tourists. […]

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VIRTUAL Distinguished Speaker Series | Piracy and Key West: Commodore David Porter and the Mosquito Squadron by Fred Borch Thursday, January 21, 2021, from 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm   Piracy was a major problem in the Caribbean in the early nineteenth century and Congress wanted to protect American merchant shipping. As a result, the Navy ordered Commodore […]

A series of photos showing how the Green Turtle was caught and shipped to the Turtle Kraals in Key West. From the Key West Art and Historical Society Collection.

Virtual Distinguished Speaker Series | The Last Turtlemen of the Caribbean: Labor, Conservation, and Boundary Making from the Cayman Islands to Key West Thursday, February 4th, from 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm In her talk “The Last Turtlemen of the Caribbean: Labor, Conservation, and Boundary Making from the Cayman Islands to Key West,” Sharika Crawford […]

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VIRTUAL Distinguished Speaker Series | Afro-Caribbean Migration to Florida by Magdalena Lamarre Thursday, February 18th, from 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm This program will examine the migration and settlement patterns of the various Afro-Caribbean peoples who made Florida their home and their contributions to its history and culture.  About the Presenter: Magdalena Lamarre was a […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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