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One of the central missions of the Archives, Special Collections, & Digital Initiatives Department is to provide access to primary source material to students and scholars. Our rare, fragile, and unique materials including manuscripts, early printed books, photographs, sheet music, audiovisual materials, and ephemera. The collections are available to students, faculty, and the public interested in viewing primary resources for research purposes, whether it is on early Florida history and ecology, mid-twentieth century journalism, high profile forensic cases, ichthyology, and many others. We are committed to collecting, preserving, and providing access to Southwest Florida history. We have strong collections focused on the Koreshan Unity, Florida railroads, and the land boom of the 1920’s. If you are interested in donating to our collections, please see our donation guidelines.
The online finding aids allow you to explore and search collections which are physically located in the Archive. Clicking on the individual links will allow you to sift through the contents of each collection. The current finding aids are not representative of the total FGCU University Archives and Special Collections. Check back often as we are continually working to make all of our growing collections discoverable.
The Koreshan Collection offers a rare glimpse into a charismatic leader and his followers as they endeavored to create a thriving utopian community. Lead by their prophet Cyrus R. Teed (later referring to himself as the Hebrew translation “Koresh”), the group relocated to establish their “New Jerusalem" in Estero, Florida in 1894. The Koreshan Unity espoused radical new doctrine that was a union of reincarnation, alchemy, religio-science, and Koresh’s most radical concept: the belief that the earth is truly concave and the universe resides finite within.
The collection of photographs, ephemera, monographs, sheet music, correspondence, and furniture document the utopian community’s industrious nature. Though their community operated on collectivist ideals, the Koreshans sustained their fellowship by operating a bakery and general store, as well as owning and operating a printing press to create original texts, religious publications, the Flaming Sword, and the American Eagle Newspaper. Koresh was a prolific writer, publishing numerous books. The members of the Unity placed great emphasis on fine art, theater, and chamber music, maintaining their Victorian sensibility.
Due to generous gifts from The College of Life Foundation and the Koreshan State Historic Site, the FGCU Library’s Archives, Special Collections, & Digital Initiatives will be able to preserve and provide access to this rich piece of Southwest Florida history. We have currently digitized and made available a few hundred photographs on DigitalFGCU. Our efforts to provide digital access to the entirety of the collection will continue throughout the next few years.