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Colonial Life


Florida was a Spanish colony from Ponce de León's arrival in 1513 until it was transferred to British control due to the 1763 Treaty of Paris. It returned to Spanish control in 1783 after England's defeat in the Revolutionary War. In 1803, the United States claimed West Florida as part of the Louisiana Purchase. By 1821, Spanish control in the region had diminished, and Florida was ceded to the U.S. The period between 1513 and 1821 is considered the time of Colonial Florida.


Finotti, M.C. The Treasure of Amelia Island. Sarasota, Fla.: Pineapple Press, 2008.

  • Print; 97 pages; fiction; ages 8 to 12

This fictional adventure story follows a brother and sister against the historical background of the War of 1812 and the American incursions into Spanish Florida. It includes a reader's guide with discussion questions and essay projects for students.


Gioia, Robyn. America's Real First Thanksgiving: St. Augustine, Fla., September 8, 1565. America's Real First Thanksgiving: St. Augustine, Fla., September 8, 1565.

  • Print; 48 pages; nonfiction; ages 7 and up

This book begins with a discussion of Spain as a powerful European empire and compares it to Florida prior to contact. It describes the first contact between Timucua Indians and Spanish settlers of St. Augustine and the first feast of thanksgiving that Spaniards held after landing in Florida.


Kalman, Bobbie, and Antoinette DeBiasi. Colonial Crafts. New York: Crabtree Publishing Company, 1992.

  • Print; 32 pages; nonfiction; ages 8 to 12
  • Also available in audiobook format

This book discusses how skilled craftspeople made products before the advent of factories. There are many photographs of people practicing colonial crafts such as blacksmithing and papermaking. It is an ideal book to accompany a living history program.


Raab, James W. Spain, Britain, and the American Revolution in Florida, 1763–1783. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarlan, Colorado, 2008.

  • Print; 204 pages; nonfiction; ages 14 and up

This is an interesting and well-researched interpretation of the influence of Florida in the American Revolution. The effects of the 1763 Treaty of Paris, the British retreat from Pensacola and West Florida in 1781, and the return of the Spanish rule are major points of this book.


Schafer, Daniel L. Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley: African Princess, Florida Slave, Plantation Slaveowner. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2003.

  • Print; 177 pages; nonfiction; ages 14 and up

This extensively researched biography of Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley is a fascinating account of a woman who was born free in Africa, became a slave in Florida, married her owner, became a plantation slaveowner, and ruled as the matriarch of her family. By following the history of Anna's life, one learns about the history of race relations in 1800s Florida under both Spanish and American rule.