SAHS Speaker Series: Beth Rogero Brown

The first lecturer in our 2019-2020 Series is Beth Rogero Bowen.

There are two opportunities to hear Beth Rogero Bowen’s talk “St. Augustine in the 1930s and 1940s.” This lecture pulls from her recently 2019 book St. Augustine in the 1930s and 1940s.

Beth will speak on Friday, October 25th, 2019 at 2:00 p.m., she will deliver her talk at the Southeast Branch of the St. Johns County Library

On Tuesday, October 29th, 2019, Beth will present at 7:00 p.m. in the Flagler Room at Flagler College.

Both events are free and open to the public. We chatted with Beth to get a behind-the-scenes look at her research!

What drew you to your discipline? 
Being a native of St. Augustine and Menorcan descendant, I have always been interested in the history of the town.  In the mid 1980s, during the time my husband and I operated a gift shop on St. George Street, I attended classes at Flagler College and received a degree in history in 1986.  I have been a postcard collector since the 1950s, saving postcards sent from vacationing friends and relatives, and in the 1980s I began collecting St. Augustine postcards in earnest.  I often used the Society’s Research Library to gather information on the postcards. Charles Tingley, senior research librarian, was asked by Arcadia Publishing if the Society would be interested in doing a book on St. Augustine postcards for their “Postcard History” series.  Knowing that I was a postcard collector, Charles asked me if I would be interested in doing the project, and I said yes.  I soon realized that there were  too many significant postcards of St. Augustine for just one book, so my first book “St. Augustine in the Gilded Age”, published in 2008, covered the era from 1900 to 1915.

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What is your research process like? 
First, I select postcards from my own collection that are appropriate to the time period of the book, then I go through the Society’s collections of postcards.  I also search collections of fellow postcard collectors who generously allow me to use their images.  After I have decided which postcards to use and how best to format them into chapters, I use the Research Library’s city directories, phone books and newspaper records to gather information on the selected postcards.  I also do interviews with local residents and obtain information from internet sources.

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Why this topic?
I think people enjoy old photos of St. Augustine, and postcards often capture unique images of places and people. My first book, “St. Augustine in the Gilded Age” (2008) covered the time from the beginning of the postcard era, circa 1900, through 1915.  My second book, “St. Augustine in the Roaring Twenties”, covered the late 1910s through 1929, so this third book is a natural progression to look at St. Augustine during the Great Depression and World War II.

What is the best part about your field?
The exciting thing for me is finding a postcard that I have never seen before.  And I enjoy the research involved in trying to date the postcard and identify the buildings and people that are depicted.  St. Augustine had many local photographers – William J. Harris, Lewis Blair, Philip A. Wolfe – that specialized in “real photo” postcards. These are black and white images that are much rarer than the mass-produced color cards of national companies, and are often one of a kind images.