Matheson History Museum
513 East University Avenue, Gainesville, FL 32601 - United States
The Matheson History Museum is home to the 1867 Matheson House and Tison Tool Barn, permanent and temporary exhibits on Alachua County and Florida history, and a local history library and archives filled with resources for the researcher and the curious alike. Throughout the year we host a variety of programs on local and Florida history.
"Trailblazers: 150 Years of Alachua County Women"
This exhibition highlights the lives and accomplishments of eleven women from cities throughout Alachua County. We will tell their stories, some for the first time, to call attention to the oft forgotten contributions of women in our history and in the history of Alachua County. While we are unable to call attention to every woman who has made an impact on the county, these eleven women represent various backgrounds, experiences, and fields of work, all of which are significant to the past and present success of Alachua County.
The eleven women featured in the exhibition are: Sarah Hamilton Matheson, Dr. Sarah Lucretia Robb, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Marjorie Harris Carr, Vivian Washington Filer, Daphne Duval Williams, Judith Brown, Margaret Tebeau, Clara Floyd Gehan, Mary Etta Cubberly, and Emmaline Buchholz.
"McCarthy Moment: The Johns Committee in Florida"
“Have you ever been engaged in any homosexual activities here in Gainesville?”
This question forever altered dozens of lives at the University of Florida between 1958 and 1959.
In 1956, State Senator Charley Eugene Johns created the Florida Legislative Investigation Committee. Better known as the Johns Committee, it tried to uncover subversive activity in Florida.
Their first target was the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The Committee used Communists as an excuse to prevent integration in public schools. The NAACP’s members and lawyers proved too hard for the Committee to beat. Soon an embarrassed Johns looked for easier victims.
At this time, Americans thought being gay was a shameful mental disorder. It was something to hide and keep secret. It was also illegal in Florida. This secrecy made gay people more vulnerable to the persecution of the Johns Committee. Committee members threatened people with exposure and prison if they did not cooperate. This reign of terror led to dozens of professors and students leaving the university. Although we will never know everyone the Committee hurt, this exhibition seeks to tell their stories.
**The “McCarthy Moment” exhibition does contain sensitive information, including self-harm, sexual acts, and persecution of the LGBTQ+ community. Museum staff is available if any visitor would like more information before entering the exhibition.
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