Thursday, May 19, 2011

Artifact Spotlight

“Welcome President Carter” political button, ca. 1979
Courtesy of J. Thomas Touchton

On August 30, 1979, President Jimmy Carter visited Thomas Jefferson High School in Tampa for a town hall meeting to discuss his energy policies. Buttons to commemorate the presidential visit – such as the one now in our collection - could be purchased at the event for $2.

Carter’s trip to Tampa came during the height of the second major energy crisis of the 1970s, this one sparked by the Iranian Revolution. A month earlier, on July 15, Carter delivered his “Crisis of Confidence” speech to the American public. In the speech, Carter touched on the major issues of the day: unemployment, soaring gas prices, dependence on foreign oil, energy conservation, and the need to develop alternative sources of energy. 

For more than an hour during his visit to Tampa, Carter fielded questions from the audience on the issue of energy. He urged everyone to go home and figure out how to save on gas and electricity. Saving energy, Carter said, “is the cheapest, easiest, most pleasant way to be a patriotic American.”

Just a few months after his visit to Tampa, new developments around the world joined the energy crisis as priorities for Carter. The Iranian Hostage Crisis, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and a challenge by Sen. Edward Kennedy for the Democratic nomination in 1980 would consume the remainder of his presidency.

Carter’s visit to Jefferson High School marked his last public appearance in Tampa as President, though he would return to the Tampa Bay area for a campaign stop in St. Petersburg on October 10, 1980. 


The sidewheel steamship Isis caught fire and sank near Tampa in 1836. The Kate Dale and the Scottish Chief, two Confederate blockade runners, lie at the bottom of the Hillsborough River. The Evening Star went down at Clearwater in 1872.

Shipwrecked!, a new course offered by the Tampa Bay History Center, dives beneath the surface to uncover thousands of years of maritime history in West Central Florida.

Beginning with Florida’s first people, who navigated dugout canoes along Florida’s inland lakes and streams, to Spanish Conquistadores whose grand galleons were the first European sailing vessels to reach the New World, Shipwrecked! maps the schooners and steamers, pirates and legends that lie at the bottom of Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Classes begin Wednesday, June 1 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and continue through June 15. Cost is $30 per person. Space is limited and pre-registration is required.  To register, call Lee Leavengood at 813.675.8971 or email her at

Monday, May 2, 2011

New Course Celebrates Tampa Landmarks

Each of Tampa’s historic neighborhoods tells a story. From the bungalows of Hyde Park and the grand social clubs of Ybor City, to the towering cigar factories of West Tampa, the architecture of each neighborhood reveals its unique personality. Beginning May 4, Tampa’s Landmark Neighborhoods, a new four-week course, offered by the History Center and USF’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, takes you on a virtual tour of Old Tampa.

The course features former Tampa City Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena, former City of Tampa Historic Preservation Manager, Del Acosta, and preservation architect Grant Rimby. Each will review the history, development and architectural features of Hillsborough County’s historic neighborhoods from Temple Terrace to Port Tampa. Join these long-time preservation advocates and Tampa natives as they share their knowledge and enthusiasm about Tampa’s landmark neighborhoods.

Tampa’s Landmark Neighborhoods takes place each Wednesday from May 4 through May 25 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Tampa Bay History Center. Cost is $40.00. Pre-registration is required. For more information, contact the History Center's Adult Programs Coordinator, Lee Leavengood, at (813) 675-8971. Or, contact the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at (813) 974-2403 to register.


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