The Plant City Photo Archives And History Center Is A World-Class Museum In Historic Plant City

By Kathy L. Collins

The Plant City Photo Archives and History Center is a treasure trove for anyone interested in the history of our area. The center has over 80,000 photographs and documents scanned into database with another 50,000 to input.

The center is not only a great source for local students, teachers, residents and historians, but according to Gil Gott, Executive Director of the Plant City Photo Archives and History Center, “We get calls all the time from local newspapers looking for photographs. We even received calls from CNN for information for a piece they were doing.”

The center recently underwent an exhaustive museum assessment for conservation purposes. The Plant City Photo Archives and History Center is pleased that the assessment noted that all of the negatives and photographs are being preserved to a national standard.

The current exhibit at the center is called “Summer Time.” The exhibit focuses on summer activities and spans a time frame from the 1930’s to just a couple of years ago. Gott said, “We had a lot of things that went on in the greater Plant City area during the summer, and this exhibit features activities from swimming at the old Robinson Pool and activities such as baseball.”

“Summer Time” will run now through the end of summer. The exhibit will be shown on 12 boards each containing 12 photographs.

The Plant City Photo Archives and History Center recently received notification that it will be one of 500 communities across the U.S. who will take part in a project called “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle.” This project was developed by the National Endowment for the Humanities to mark the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Plant City Photo Archives and History Center will receive a set of NEH-funded films on Civil Rights history. The films include The Abolitionists, Slavery By Another Name, The Loving Story and Freedom Riders.

The program will feature film screening and public discussion which will include participation by a local humanities scholar. The discussions are aimed at encouraging public conversation about the changing meanings of freedom and equality in the U.S. and civic life. All of the film screenings, discussions and other events surrounding this exciting project are free of charge and open to the public.

Projects such as this are made possible thanks to a grant received from the Gilder Lehrman Institute. Look for this great project in late 2013 or early 2014.

The Plant City Photo Archives and History Center not only hosts exhibits and special projects, but they also host interesting and enlightening local historical authors for discussions and book signings. In addition, the center hosts an annual Photojournalism contest every spring.

The Plant City Photo Archives was first established in 2000 to collect and preserve historical photographs that are not only from Plant City, but from all over Eastern Hillsborough County, Lakeland and Bartow. The photographs in the collection generally date from the 1930’s to the 1970’s, but there are some that date back to the 1800’s. The History Center and corresponding research library were added in 2010.

The Plant City Photo Archives and History Center is located at 106 S. Evers St. in historic downtown Plant City. The center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, please visit www.plantcityphotoarchives.com or call 754-1578.