By Kathy Collins
Doris Weatherford of Seffner is a prolific historical writer. She has written a dozen books on the subject of women’s history over a three decade period. Her first book, Foreign and Female: Immigrant Women in America, 1840-1930 was published in 1986. It was revised and expanded in 1995. Of the 12 books written by Weatherford, two of them feature local history including Real Women of Tampa and Hillsborough County and They Dared to Dream: Florida Women Who Shaped History. The latter book was published in 2015. A recent visit to the Bloomingdale Regional Library revealed a four to five person wait list to check out this book.
In addition to her important and impressive work as a historical writer, Weatherford has also been involved in political campaigns and public service both locally and on a national level. Weatherford served on several Citizens’ Advisory Committees including ones for the Hillsborough School Board, the Hillsborough County Commission and the Environmental Protection Commission. She was also appointed a Trustee of Hillsborough Community College by the late Governor Lawton Chiles.
Today, Weatherford, a resident of Seffner for 40 years, continues to write a weekly column in La Gaceta, the nation’s only trilingual newspaper which has been published in Tampa since 1922. Weatherford’s column is called In Context. In it, Weatherford puts current events into historical context. She is also a member of the Winthrop Arts Board of Visionaries. Weatherford said, “Of all the boards on which I have served, the Winthrop Arts Board is the best one. Everyone contributes and does their share without egos getting in the way.”
For all of her accomplishments, Weatherford was recently honored by the League of Women Voters of Hillsborough County with their 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award. The award is given to an individual who has dedicated his or her life to serving the public through education and advocacy at the local, state and national level.
At the award ceremony held last month in Tampa, the Honorable Betty Castor in introducing Weatherford said, “She is the ultimate champion of women.” Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman called Weatherford “a trailblazer.” Weatherford was presented with a commendation signed by all seven county commissioners.
Weatherford was born in Minnesota. When she was about 10, her family moved to Arkansas. She graduated from Arkansas Tech (now known as Arkansas Tech University). She met her husband, Roy, there. He is a retired professor from USF, philosopher and academic union leader. Roy went to Harvard where he received his doctorate degree in 1972. Weatherford received a graduate fellowship from Brandeis University in Boston.
While living in Boston, she taught and ultimately took a graduate course at Harvard on immigration. While in the course, Weatherford had the tenacity to question her professor on some of the statistics he cited.
Specifically, the professor suggested that women did not fare as well as men when they immigrated. Weatherford knew from her own family history that the women who immigrated to the United States were in fact the ones who held the family together and assimilated better than their husbands. Looking for information, she went to Harvard’s library. She did not find a specific book on the topic but she found books that were used as the foundation for her first book. Thus began a career spanning more than 30 years which has resulted in a dozen books, one of which is a massive four volume History of Women in the United States: A State by State Reference. This was published in 2004.
Weatherford believes that all people should not be afraid to ask questions. “We have gotten to a society where people do not question. History is taught as a set of facts, but facts can be interpreted,” said Weatherford. “Women are always present in any situation and at any time. History should not be taught emphasizing men. Without women, history ends in a generation.”
For more information on Weatherford, visit www.members.authorsguild.net/dweatherford.