University of Florida students enrolled in Dr. Louise Newman’s “From Headlines to Histories” course during the fall semester of 2021 created this collection of reflections to provide a glimpse into today’s anxieties and complexities and encourage a deeper admiration for the many layers of history that have led us to this moment.

This exhibition was created with the help of our community members. We are one of the primary organizations dedicated to Alachua County history. As we conduct research, we often wish that we had more photographs, narratives, and documentation from the past. Living through the COVID-19 pandemic gives us all a unique opportunity to create and collect these primary sources for the future.

At this time, being gay was illegal in Florida. This secrecy made gay people more vulnerable to the persecution of the Florida Legislative Investigation Committee, better known as the Johns Committee. People were threatened by the Committee with exposure and prison if they did not cooperate. This reign of terror led to dozens of professors and students leaving the university between 1958 and 1959. Although we will never know everyone the Committee hurt, this exhibition seeks to tell their stories.

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This exhibition follows one slice of African American history in Gainesville, but certainly not all of Gainesville’s Black history. Our goal is to show the Civil Rights movement in Gainesville from the 1960s until the early 70s and how that affected the University of Florida’s racial atmosphere. In a great show of strength on April 15, 1971, Black students decided to take a stand in a protest at Tigert Hall on the UF campus. Their interaction with President Stephen O’Connell would change the course of the university forever.

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This exhibition highlights the lives and accomplishments of eleven women from cities throughout Alachua County. We will tell their stories, some for the first time, to call attention to the oft forgotten contributions of women in our history and in the history of Alachua County.

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