The Florida History Department located in Key West’s May Hill Russell Public Library, houses a vast array of local history archival materials, governmental records, and images. The Department employs a historian, professional archivist, and a hearty corps of volunteers who process, preserve, digitize, describe, and transcribe donated treasures of Keys history. The Florida History Department is open to the public 299 days per year, and receives over 8,000 in-person visits annually. Through the generosity of the community, the Florida History collections continue to grow and Keys cultural heritage is being preserved for future generations.
A 2001 Library Services and Technology Act grant project of Monroe County Public Library, Mile Markers: Linking Keys History, seeded the Library’s first digital efforts and initiated a long-term partnership with Florida International University. Collections featured in the Mile Markers project span the years 1820—1970 and illustrate early industries, unique architecture, fishing, construction of Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway and the Overseas Highway, the Mariel Boat Lift, and the aftermath of devastating hurricanes, among other subjects. Currently, the library has digitized over 25,000 photographs, manuscripts, and other artifacts.