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A Guide to the Peter O. Knight Scrapbooks

Finding aid created by Kathleen Cook

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections
June 2008

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Knight, Peter Oliphant, 1865-1946
Title: Peter O. Knight Scrapbooks
Dates: 1895-1943
Abstract: Seventeen scrapbooks, composed mainly of clippings and correspondence, and primarily covering Peter O. Knight's political and developmental role in Florida, particularly the Tampa Bay area.
Extent: 2 Linear feet. 17 volumes.
Identification: MS 60
Language(s): English

Biographical/Historical Note

Peter Oliphant Knight was born in Freeburg, Pennsylvania on December 16, 1865. He attended Valparaiso University in Indiana, where he received his Bachelor of Law degree in 1884. That same year, he moved to Florida. He helped to incorporate Fort Myers, and was elected mayor before he turned twenty-one. Knight was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1886. In 1887, he was instrumental in the creation of Lee County, and subsequently was named the first county attorney. In 1888, he was elected to one term in the Florida state legislature.

In the winter of 1889/1890, Knight moved to Tampa, Florida. He supported and led many projects in the development of the Tampa Bay area. He co-organized the first electric street railway in 1892, helped create the Exchange Bank of Tampa in 1894, organized the Tampa Gas Company in 1895, and formed the Tampa Electric Company in 1899. Other companies that Knight helped to create or served as counsel or officer for included Tampa Hardware Company, Tribune Publishing Company, Florida Brewing Company, Tampa Phosphate Company, Tampa Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Tampa Union Station Company, Ybor City Land and Improvement Company, and Florida Central and Peninsular Railroad.

From 1893 until 1899, Knight served as State Attorney for the Sixth Judicial Circuit (Hillsborough County). This was his last public office, although he continued to act as a civil lawyer and political lobbyist for the rest of his life. In 1926, he aided the city of Tampa in financing the development of Davis Islands, and in 1934 he helped the city acquire land on Davis Island to build a municipal airport, which would later be named in his honor. Also in 1934, he was awarded the Civitan Award for outstanding service to Florida. During World War II, Knight was general manager and Vice President of the American International Shipbuilding Company, which ran operations at the Hog Island Shipyard.

Knight also was a 33rd degree Mason, president of the Hillsborough County Humane Society, president of the Florida Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, and a member of multiple bar associations, the Rotary Club, and the Knights of Pythias, amongst other organizations.

Knight died on November 26, 1946.

Source: Grismer, Karl H. Tampa: A History of the City of Tampa and the Tampa Bay Region of Florida. Ed. D.B. McKay. Florida: St. Petersburg Printing Company, Inc., 1950. Source: The Southerner. New Orleans: Southern Editors Association, 1944.

Scope and Content

This collection consists of seventeen scrapbooks. The materials contained in the volumes primarily consist of correspondence (political, business, and personal) and news clippings about and by Peter O. Knight. Also included are a few photographs, receipts, and commemorative memorabilia.

Though many subjects are included, the primary focus is the growth and development of Tampa and the State of Florida. Most articles in the collection give Knight's opinions on political and financial issues relating to Florida in general, and the Tampa Bay area in particular. One entire book is devoted to the Hog Island International Shipyard. Another subject that appears regularly is the development of Davis Islands and the municipal airport. The collection covers the years from 1895 through 1943, and is arranged chronologically.

Access or Use Restrictions


The collection is open for research.

Related or Separated Material

The University of Florida P.K. Yonge Library holds other Peter Knight papers as part of the Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection. The Knight papers consist of correspondence dated 1912-1940, speeches, articles, and a Supreme Court brief.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Peter O. Knight Scrapbooks, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Contents List

A Contains clippings, receipts, correspondence. Binding is completely destroyed, pages are out of order. 1895(4?)-1914
B1 Contains clippings, correspondence, inserts. Subjects include: Political Optimism; Labor Laws; Patriotism; Exchange National Bank of Tampa; Florida Growth and Development; Rotarians of the South. Inserts: "The Daily Headache"; "The Tampa Tribune" re: Exchange National Bank's new building; "Tampa Daily Times" article re: Tampa Hardware Company (article is duplicated in book); two invitations from the Democratic National Committee to the notification of the presidential candidate. 1913-1925
B2 Contains clippings, brochures, memorabilia, 1 postcard, 1 photograph, 1 speech transcript, 1 insert ("Hog Island"). Subjects include: Hog Island International Shipyard; Knight Serves as Chief Counsel of Great Allied Corporations. 1918-1920
C Contains clippings, correspondence, bills, receipts. Subjects include: Tampa Water Works; "Negro Emigration;" European Relations. 1923-194
D. Contains Clippings, Correspondence, 1 insert (Orange Blossom Special). Subjects include: Taxation (inheritance, tobacco, income); "Rent Hogs." 1925
E Contains clippings, correspondence, inserts. Subjects include: Davis Island, Inheritance Tax. Inserts- "Life on Davis Island;" "Tampa: Center of 500,000 Surpasses Its Boom Record" (dated 1928- appears in Scrapbook G). 1926
F. Contains clippings, correspondence. Subjects include: Orange Festival; Banking and Development; Senate Race/Rumors of Candidacy for Knight. 1927
G Contains 3 photographs, correspondence, clippings. Subjects include: State Chamber Elections; Banking/Finance; Economic Stability of Florida; Storm Damages in Palm Beach and Okeechobee. 1928
H Contains clippings, correspondence, 2 inserts. Subjects include: Bank Deflation; Knight Appointed Councilor in U.S. Chamber of Commerce; State Tax Reform and Legislation; Proposal to Abolish Real Estate Tax; Effects of Mediterranean Fruit Fly on State Citrus Crop. Inserts: "Florida Clearing House News." 1929
I Contains clippings, correspondence, 1 photograph, 2 inserts. Subjects include: Knight Declines U.S. Supreme Court Seat; Record Year for Tampa Electric; Citrus crops and Fruit Flies; Florida's Economic Balance. Inserts: "Heart's Sunday America" (article duplicated in book); "Tampa News." 1930
J Contains correspondence, clippings, statement "With Reference to the So-Called Taxation Situation." Subjects include: Taxation; Education; Tampa Electric Company. 1931-1932
K Contains clippings, correspondence. Subjects include: Florida's Comeback; Political Lobbying; Davis Island Re-named Knight Field. 1933-1934
L Contains correspondence, clippings, 1 certificate, memorabilia, 1 insert envelope ("Plant City Enterprise"). Subjects include: Knight Given Credit for First Primary Election in Florida; Utilities; Strawberry Festival; Airport; Knights of Pythias; Certificate of Membership to Tampa Board of Trade. 1935
M Contains clippings, correspondence, survey, 1 insert envelope. Subjects include: Tampa Electric Company; Aviation (Tampa airport); Poor's Industry and Investment Survey-April 1, 1936 (Tampa Electric Company). Insert envelope: "Fort Myers News-Press: Anniversary Edition Recalls 1st Booster Booklet Here." 1936
N Contains brochures, programs, clippings, memorabilia, correspondence, 3 photographs, 2 insert envelopes. Subjects include: Tampa Electric Company's 45th Anniversary; Knight Awarded Honorary Doctor of Civil Law by University of Tampa; Utilities Rates; One Tax (aka Single Tax). Insert envelopes: (1) collection of Spanish, Italian, and Cuban newspaper clippings re: Charter Vote September 1937; (2) Medal, National Aeronautics Association letter, Program for the Dedication of the Peter O. Knight Airport. 1937-1938
O Contains correspondence, clippings. Subjects include: "Single-Tax Plan;" Tampa Electric Company; Tampa Utilities Board; Mrs. Knight Dies June 29, 1941. 1939-1941
P Contains correspondence, clippings. Subjects include: Utilities, Tampa Electric Company. 1942-1943

Selected Subjects and Access Terms

Davis Islands (Tampa, Fla.)
Florida -- Politics and government -- 1865-1950.
Hillsborough County (Fla.) -- Politics and government.
Political culture -- Florida -- History -- 20th century.
Politicians -- Florida -- History.
Tampa (Fla.) -- History -- 19th century.
Tampa (Fla.) -- History -- 20th century.
Tampa (Fla.) -- Politics and government.
Tampa Bay Region (Fla.) -- History.
Tampa Electric Company -- History.

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

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