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A Guide to the Alexander Linn Papers

Finding aid created by Anastasia Bower

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections
April 2009

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Linn, Alexander, 1882-1975
Title: Alexander Linn Papers
Dates: 1925-1951
Abstract: Monthly reports and supplementary letters from Rev. Alexander Linn to the Board of National Missions of the Presbyterian Church detailing expenses, salary due, and noteworthy events during his missionary work in Florida. Also includes black and white photographs made from color-tinted lantern slides concerning work with Seminole Indians.
Extent: 1 Linear feet. 2 boxes.
Identification: MS 259
Language(s): English
Access: Researchers should consult with Special Collections staff before using the collection because there are access restrictions. See the Access note for more information.

Biographical/Historical Note

Reverend Alexander Linn (1882-June 29, 1975) was born in Hamburg N.J. and graduated from Columbia University. In 1905 Linn came to Florida at the advice of his doctor. He became pastor of his first church in Tarpon Springs in 1910 and was ordained a Presbyterian minister in 1914. Also in 1914, he married Lucile Gregory from Quincy, Florida. Between 1925 and 1951, Linn worked for the Board of National Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the Presbytery of Southwest and Southeast Florida as a Sunday school missionary. This job entailed starting Sunday schools and establishing churches around Florida. In his travels Linn developed a noted interest in the Seminole Indians and lectured on his trips to Seminole camps. He illustrated his lectures with glass lantern slide images that were embellished in watercolors to make them more realistic. Linn retired in 1951 but continued to work as interim pastor for churches until he had a stroke at age 92.

Source: Obituary. Englewood Herald. July 2, 1975.

Scope and Content

The collection includes folders of monthly reports on Rev. Linn's work as a Sunday school missionary. These reports are supplemented by letters. As a Sunday school missionary Rev. Linn visited towns all over south Florida including frequent visits to Punta Gorda, Fort Myers, West Palm Beach, Miami, Pinellas Park, Englewood, Clewiston, Lake Garfield, Bradenton, Lakeland, Key West and Marco. He made these visits in order to survey the community for openness to starting a Sunday school, building a church, or improving an already existing but struggling church or Sunday school. The school reports mention trips to various Seminole camps especially in the mid-1930s. There are also references to the major Florida hurricanes in 1926, 1928, and 1935.

The collection also contains a photographic record of Linn's visits to Seminole camps. He produced a series of lantern slides that he used in his talks about the Seminole Indians. The collection includes both the original slides (stored separately because they are fragile) and black and white photographs made from the slides. The transcripts of two oral histories conducted at the University of Florida contain further information about his interest in the Seminoles. The oral history recorded on March 8, 1971 describes specific lantern slides in this collection. Photographs show pictures of housing, daily activities, portraits of people, and landscapes.

Among the identified images are depictions of a trading post at Okcha-leske (?) meaning "old building" (402), the cell at the Castillo de San Marcos where Osceola was imprisoned (401), pre-1930 hairstyles (403), dredging (possibly to build the Tamiami Trail) (406), a cooking chickee (408), grinding corn in a pop ash mortar (410), grinding corn with a wheel (411), and coontie to make sofkee (419). Specific people identified are Linn with Billie Fewell (412), Wilbert Smith and Linn (413), Linn (416), Billie Fewell (396), Josie Billie as drawn by Ira Dell (422), Whitney Cypress with his family (403), and a man on horseback believed to be Coffey Gopher one of Linn's friends and informants (400).

Access or Use Restrictions


One box of 93 Lantern slides is stored separately from this collection. The slides have been tinted and colored. The collection is open for research, but access to the lantern slides requires special permission. Please use the photocopies of letters provided in the folders. Originals are stored in the last folders of the collection but in general are too deteriorated for use.

Related or Separated Material

The Library of Congress holds a related collection: The Rev. Alexander Linn / "Our Florida Indians" Slide Show Collection. The collection includes 48 slides and a tape-recorded lecture by Rev. Alexander Linn regarding Seminole Indians of Florida in the period between 1925 and 1945. The collection description is available at:

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Alexander Linn Papers, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Contents List

1 Oral History- March 8, 1971
1 Oral History-March 23, 1974
1 Obituary- June 29, 1975
1 Photograph- Not Seminole Related, Lake Worth Church (?)
1 Seminole Indians- (6 Folders) Black and White Prints Made from Lantern Slides, 93 Pictures Total
1 Seminole Indians-Miscellaneous Black and White Prints, Color Prints and Postcards
1 1925- Monthly Reports
1 1926- Monthly Reports
1 1927- Monthly Reports
1 1928- Monthly Reports
1 1929- Monthly Reports
1 1930- Monthly Reports
1 1931- Monthly Reports
1 1932- Monthly Reports
1 1933- Monthly Reports
1 1934- Monthly Reports
1 1935- Monthly Reports
1 1936- Monthly Reports
1 1937- Monthly Reports
1 1918- Monthly Reports
1 1939- Monthly Reports
1 1940- Monthly Reports
2 1941- Monthly Reports
2 1942- Monthly Reports
2 1943- Monthly Reports
2 1944- Monthly Reports
2 1945- Monthly Reports
2 1946- Monthly Reports
2 1947- Monthly Reports
2 1948- Monthly Reports
2 1949- Monthly Reports
2 1950- Monthly Reports
2 1951- Monthly Reports
2 Original Letters-1929 to 1932, Supplementary letters to Monthly reports
2 Original Letters- 1926-1929 and 1933-1934 and 1936-1937, Supplementary letters to Monthly reports
2 Original Letters-1937-1944, Supplementary letters to Monthly reports

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

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