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Watkins Family Papers

Identifier: MSS 1956-058

Scope and Contents

The Richard Ellis Watkins Family Papers contains correspondence, account books and other business records, land deeds, contracts, Bible correspondence course materials, and memorabilia documenting the lives of Richard Ellis Watkins and his parents Thomas J. Watkins and Elizabeth Ellis, and other family members.

The bulk of the collection consists of personal letters to Elizabeth Ellis (Mrs. T.J. Watkins) and her husband from various members of their family and friends, including letters from missionaries in Korea. Correspondents include Dr. Wightman Fletcher Melton, President of the Florida Methodist College in Leesburg (FL), Fanny V. Holland, mother of Florida Governor Spessard Holland, and Virginia Holland Gallemore, Fanny's daughter.

Also known as MSS 0-258.


  • created: 1877-1931

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to all researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright has not been transferred to the Florida State University Libraries.

All requests for permission to quote, publish, broadcast or otherwise reproduce from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Associate Dean for Special Collections & Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Florida State University Libraries as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.

Biographical or Historical Information

The Richard Ellis Watkins family lived in Arcadia, FL (Desoto County) during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Watkins attended the Florida Normal School and Business College at White Springs (FL), and was in one of its first graduating classes, in 1891. During the 1890s, he taught public school in Alachua County (FL) and DeSoto County (FL). The collection has particular historical significance because it includes military letters written by Sergeant Major Watkins from Guantanamo, Cuba and Camp Price, Macon, GA to his mother, Elizabeth (Ellis) Watkins, during the Spanish-American War, 1898-1899. They describe his military life and the yellow fever illness at Guantanamo.

It is clear from letters written by missionary friends in Korea, notebooks of lectures about missionary work, and the Bible correspondence course materials, that Richard's mother, Elizabeth, was deeply interested in religious and educational activities. Richard's father, Thomas, owned much land in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, as is documented by the many deeds that are part of the collection.


2.40 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The Watkins Family Papers contain personal letters, business records, bible correspondence course materials, legal documents, memorabilia, and newsclippings.

Arrangement Note

Each series is arranged alphabetically by correspondent or record type, then chronologically within each folder.

Method of Acquisition

The Watkins Family Papers were given by Mrs. Marian Watkins Black, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Ellis Watkins, to Florida State University on December 11, 1956.

Related Materials

Additional information documenting the life of Maud Schwalmeyer at Florida State College for Women can be found in her 1912 and 1928 scrapbooks, at this repository.

Processing Information

The collection was processed in June 1964. The finding aid was updated in January 2007.

Watkins Family Papers
Burt Altman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the FSU Special Collections & Archives Repository

116 Honors Way
PO Box 3062047
Tallahassee FL 32306-2047 US