By Evan Bennett
Delray Beach Historical Society
2015 Annual Meeting Keynote
May 20, 2015
Good evening. Thank you for your presence here tonight; I greatly appreciate the opportunity to address an audience who is so clearly interested in the past, its preservation, and its interpretation. It’s not everyday that I get to speak to people who respond positively, not bemusedly, when I tell them I’m a historian. It’s nice that we might have a conversation go further than, “Oh, that’s great. I never really liked history in school.”
Before I say much more, I’d like to offer my thanks to Winnie Edwards for inviting me to speak to you. I’ve only recently come to know Winnie, but I feel sure saying that she is a real treasure for the Delray Beach Historical Society. Of course, you probably already know this. In South Florida, where it seems the bulldozers are constantly pushing the past aside and everyone seems to be from somewhere else, the value of an institution like this cannot be overstated. We are truly blessed when people with vision, energy, and passion, people like your members and your Board of Governors, take an interest in preserving the past.
The theme of tonight’s meeting is nostalgia, and I thought I’d take the opportunity to talk about how academic historians have wrestled with the idea of nostalgia, point out some of its weaknesses, highlight some of its values, and suggest how local historical societies might use it as a tool to open paths to meaningful discussions of the past.
What were you doing in 1964?
It was a pivotal year for America. Civil Rights took center stage, Dylan plugged-in, Ford unveiled the iconic Mustang, the US moved forward in Vietnam and Beatlemania took America by storm.
Amongst the excitement, a group of very caring, professional and amateur historians quietly created a legacy for Palm Beach County and the Delray Beach Historical Society was born on August 26th, 1964.
The original mission of the Society was “to be an organization that preserves the records and to form a significant and authentic history of the City of Delray Beach.” Fifty years later, they have done just that.
When you go fishing in the Delray Beach Historical Society archives, there’s no telling what you might find! During a recent research project to gather information about original Lake Ida homes, we re-discovered a collection of extraordinary handcrafted scrapbooks and diaries created by local fishing legend, Randall Wilson Davis, when he was a teenager way back in the 1930’s.
Randall’s family settled in Delray Beach in 1925, and his father, Jacob Davis, and older brother, Orville, started the Davis Transfer Co., in early 1926. (In fact, one of his Dad’s contracts was to deliver bailed hay from a side-track railroad box car in from of the old Delray Electric Power Station run by Doc Ranson.
DBHS Coloring Book (64 MB)
Archived Editions of Delray Beach News
January 8, 1943 (55 MB)
January 15, 1943 (55 MB)
February 26, 1943 (27 MB)
March 5, 1943 (45 MB)
March 12, 1943 (46 MB)
March 19, 1943 (49 MB)
March 26, 1943 (49 MB)
April 2, 1943 (52 MB)
April 9, 1943 (62 MB)
April 16, 1943 (53 MB)
Delray Beach News and News-Journal
Search and browse selected issues of the Delray Beach News and Delray Beach News-Journal at the Florida Digital Newspaper Library.
Take the Historical Archives one step further! The Delray Beach historical timeline includes photos, dates, facts and figures from the earliest recorded modern history of Delray Beach and its surrounding areas. Timeline »
The Ethel Sterling Williams Archives & Learning Center is open to visitors for history research and to view exhibits. History education sessions can be arranged at the ESW History Learning Center. Explore »
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