Staff Spotlight – Charles Tingley, Senior Research Librarian

Staff Spotlight - Charles Tingley, Senior Research Librarian 2

Mr. Tingley first visited St. Augustine on a family vacation in 1956. His family frequently returned to the city for a few days almost every summer in the 1960s. While here he bought a copy of Albert Manucy’s Houses of St. Augustine, 1565-1821. Fascinated by the restoration efforts of the Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board, he actually wrote an elementary school book report on Manucy’s book.

After moving to St. Augustine, Mr. Tingley started volunteering with the historical society library in 1978. The first project he was assigned was to move the periodical collection from one room to another for the long-time librarian Jackie Bearden (later Jackie Fretwell). He was hired as a reference librarian in August 1994. The year after he was hired, the Research Library was moved from the Dunham Building at 271 Charlotte Street to its current home in the Segui-Kirby Smith house on Aviles Street. The boxing, transportation, and unpacking of the collections was conducted by library staff and the Boy Scouts. This effort took several months.

In addition to his work at the historical society’s library, Mr. Tingley has frequently been called upon by publishers to proof read for historical accuracy school text books and other publications. As one of the spokespersons for the historical society, he is often quoted in the media. He has taken part in documentaries for the BBC, French National Television, PBS, NPR, Florida Frontiers, and the Golf Channel. Tingley has often been a guest speaker on a wide range of historical and genealogical subjects for various local organizations.

Mr. Tingley’s writing efforts began with an article published in the East Florida Gazette in 1989. Since then, he has authored numerous articles in the East Florida Gazette and the Historical Society Newsletter. The 2008 El Escribano contained his article “Over the Swash and Out Again” about Johann David Schoepf’s visit to St, Augustine in 1784. In a forthcoming issue of El Escribano will have his article about Charles Vignoles, a British engineer who witnessed the early days of Florida as U. S. Territory. In 2013, several of Mr. Tingley’s, architectural photographs were published by the University of Florida Press in Heart and Soul: Sacred Sites and Historic Architecture by Elsbeth Gordon. Mr. Tingley wrote “Another Invisible Man: Alexander H. Darnes, MD.” in the Winter 2016, Florida Historical Quarterly.

In 1994 the St. Augustine Historical Society gave Mr. Tingley its Award of Excellence for Community Service. This was largely for his activities with the Friends of St. Augustine Architecture and the St. Augustine Archaeological Association. For his Florida Historical Quarterly article, Tingley won the Arthur C. Thompson Award for the best article of 2016 in that publication. In February 2019, the St. Augustine City Commission presented Mr. Tingley with the de Aviles Award for community service. Mr. Tingley has three videos on YouTube: two are programs given as virtual lectures for the historical society. One is on St. Johns County place names and the other concerns Dr. Alexander H. Darnes, Florida’s first Black doctor. The third video is a tour of the Gonzalez-Alvarez House (aka the Oldest House) for John Townsend’s vlog about Colonial reenactment which has been viewed well over 400,000 times in the last year.

As always, Mr. Tingley looks forward to assisting clients at the Research Library with their historical and genealogical queries.  He hopes to write more articles and present additional programs about the fascinating past of St. Augustine.