Digitized African American Collections represent just a fraction of the African American History Collections within the Department of Special and Area Studies Collections at the University of Florida Libraries. The Libraries' physical holdings depict an American tableau and represent a snap-shot of Floridian culture. Rare book collections define the historic context of the African American community in the nation's struggles and growth. Florida collections, closer to home, document the lives of African American Floridians both in life and through death. Digital collections draw special attention to the The Visionaires and the records of the Cunningham Funeral Home.
The Visionaires Collection consists of minutes of The Visionaires' meetings, records of financial transactions, photographs, and materials that document the organization's participation in school and community activities. The Visionaires are a community organization that would foster the civic, cultural, and social affairs of Negro women in Gainesville, Florida from the late 1930s onward.
The Cunningham Funeral Home Collection includes records that document African-American social history in north and central Florida. Besides burial records, the collection contains photographs, financial transactions, oral histories, maps, letters, secretarial notes, political history, and notes on dress and life in Florida. Most importantly, these records establish community demographics. Until the 1970s, the only comprehensive listing of African-American communities in any Florida county was found in morticians' records. For instance, if a researcher wants to know where African-American churches and schools were located, that information can be found in the records. Morticians have been - and continue to be - the means of knowing what was happening in the community: they knew everyone, and they could give directions to houses in obscure locations. They were truly the heart of the community.