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A Guide to the Federal Bureau of Investigation St. Augustine Surveillance Files, 1963-1967

Finding aid created by Chris Baker

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections
April 2007

Descriptive Summary

Creator: United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Title: Federal Bureau of Investigation St. Augustine Surveillance Files
Dates: 1963-1967
Abstract: Photocopies of surveillance records of racial tension in St. Augustine by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Extent: 0.5 Linear feet. 1 Box.
Identification: Ms 106
Language(s): English

Biographical/Historical Note

In 1963 the FBI sent several agents to St. Augustine, Florida, to monitor the rapidly increasing racial tension there. Local civil rights leaders were demonstrating for the desegregation of all of St. Augustine's public facilities and were being met with hostile resistance from local white officials, business owners, and law enforcement officers. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference became involved in an effort to bring national media attention to the injustices in St. Augustine. Citing a hostile racial climate, King and other civil rights leaders compared the situation in St. Augustine to other hotbeds for racial tension in the South like Albany, Georgia and Birmingham, Alabama.

St. Augustine became an important battleground for civil rights. The exposure of racial inequality in the oldest city in the United States proved to be an effective way of drawing national attention to segregation in Florida's tourist oriented economy. Demonstrations in St. Augustine took place as debate over the Civil Rights Act raged in Washington, D.C.

For more information on the topic see: David R. Colburn, Racial Change and Community Crisis: St. Augustine, Florida, 1877-1980, Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1991. Also: David J. Garrow, Centers of the Southern Struggle: FBI Files on Montgomery, Albany, St. Augustine, Selma, and Memphis, Frederick, Md.: University Publications of America, 1988.

Scope and Content

The collection contains photocopies of FBI surveillance records and memoranda arranged chronologically from 1963-1967 with the bulk of the collection covering 1964. Of particular interest are records of a violent Ku Klux Klan rally in September 1963, the attempted murder of local civil rights leader Robert B. Hayling, and the arrest of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Monson's Motor Lodge in June 1964. Sit-ins, beach wade-ins, and night marches are also covered in the reports. According to historian David J. Garrow, FBI activity in St. Augustine differed somewhat from those in other areas of the South because agents were "distinctly hostile to the Klan-friendly, violence-tolerant aura that was manifested by local lawmen, particularly St. John's County Sheriff L.O. Davis" (Garrow 1988, vii). Reports from St. Augustine sometimes reflect this hostility.

The collection also contains a telegram from Robert F. Kennedy pertaining to a particularly violent KKK rally and correspondence from then Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson.

The following people are prominently featured in this collection: Farris Bryant (Governor of Florida 1960-1965), L.O. Davis (St. John's County Sheriff), Goldie Eubanks (Reverend and local civil rights leader), Dr. Robert B. Hayling (Local civil rights leader), Lyndon B. Johnson, Robert F. Kennedy, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., Holstead R. "Hoss" Manucy (Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan), Joseph Shelley (Mayor of St. Augustine 1963-1965), Judge Bryan J. Simpson, and J.B. Stoner (Imperial Wizard of the Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan).

Access or Use Restrictions


The collection is open for research.

Related or Separated Material

For additional information on this topic you may want to consult Centers of the Southern Struggle: FBI Files on Montgomery, Albany, St. Augustine, Selma, and Memphis edited by David J. Garrow, Frederick, Md.: University Publications of America, 1988. Part of the Black Studies Research Sources: Microfilms from Major Archival and Manuscript Collections. The guide for this microfilm collection contains useful explanations of FBI classifications and explains how to cite FBI records.

The University of Florida Smathers Libraries also holds the papers of John Milton Bryan Simpson.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Federal Bureau of Investigation St. Augustine Surveillance Files, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Acquisition Information

The records were donated to the University of Florida Special Collections Department by history professor Dr. David R. Colburn.

Contents List

1 FBI Index (Contains memoranda, maps of the city, and correspondence from Lyndon B. Johnson). 1963-1967
1 Surveillance Reports. June 1963
1 Surveillance Reports. July 1963
1 Surveillance Reports. August 1963
1 Surveillance Reports. September-December 1963
1 Surveillance Reports. January-May 1964
1 Surveillance Reports. June 1-19 1964
1 Surveillance Reports. June 20-30 1964
1 Surveillance Reports. July-December 1964
1 Miscellaneous (Contains additional miscellaneous memoranda). 1963-1967

Selected Subjects and Access Terms

Civil rights -- Florida -- Saint Augustine.
King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968.
Saint Augustine (Fla.) -- Race relations.

For further information, please contact: Special Collections Access Services.

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