Abstract

This digital public history project explores one of the oldest and longest running of Florida's roadside attractions, Weeki Wachee Springs, during the years considered to be the park's heyday, the 1950s through the mid-1970s. With the 75th anniversary of the park approaching in 2022 and preliminary discussions of a new or expanded mermaid museum, there is a growing need to document the experiences of aging former employees and preserve park-related ephemera from that period. For this project six oral histories of former mermaids and former employees have been recorded, transcribed, and made publicly accessible through RICHES, the University of Central Florida's free-to-access digital archive, along with hundreds of documents and images related to the park. This newly discovered material uncovers the lived experiences of the mermaids and other employees interviewed, some of whom have never been written about previously. Historiographically, the park has attracted little attention from scholars. The few popular works devoted to Weeki Wachee Springs fail to place the attraction within the context of Florida's social or political climates in any meaningful way. Using oral histories of the park's employees recorded for this project, archival material uncovered during the research stage, and existing interviews from one of the only books written about the park (Lu Vickers' Weeki Wachee: City of Mermaids, 2007), this study combines a digital archive with scholarly interpretation informed by women's studies, social and cultural history, and oral history theory.

Graduation Date

2018

Semester

Fall

Advisor

French, Scot

Degree

Master of Arts (M.A.)

College

College of Arts and Humanities

Department

History

Degree Program

History; Public History

Format

application/pdf

Identifier

CFE0007369

URL

http://purl.fcla.edu/fcla/etd/CFE0007369

Language

English

Release Date

December 2018

Length of Campus-only Access

None

Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)

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