Spanish history

J. Michael Francis / La Florida: The Interactive Digital Archive of the Americas

J. Michael Francis spent nearly a decade combing through thousands of scribbled notes, ship logs and dusty relics to chronicle Florida’s Spanish past. He hoped that one day he could bring that once hazy picture into sharp focus.

For the chair of the Florida Studies program at University of South Florida St. Petersburg, that day is Thursday, when the website, La Florida: The Interactive Digital Archive of the Americas, is formally unveiled. (Editor's Note: The website will go live 3/15)

Screen shot, courtesy of St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra, and the Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau.

Someone has an anniversary today. But don't panic. It isn't you.

Actually, it's all of us.

Today marks Florida's 500th anniversary. On April 3, 1513, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León landed near present-day St. Augustine. He dubbed the spot La Florida, meaning "the land of flowers."

To commemorate the occasion, this week a bunch of bigwigs are in St. Augustine, which is recognized as America's oldest city. The group includes Florida politicians and Spanish dignitaries.

University of North Florida

The Florida Studies Program at USF St. Petersburg is adding one of the country's leading experts on the history of the Spanish colonial experience in Florida.

On August 1st, Dr. J. Michael Francis, chairman of the History Department at the University of North Florida, will take the newly created Hough Family Endowed Chair in Florida Studies.