Florida Women's Heritage Trail

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Monument to the Women of the
  Confederacy, Jacksonville, FL

Within this book are brief outlines of over 100 women significant in Florida's history. In each case, a historic site or marker exists to illustrate their role in defining the state's past, present, and future. These stories begin with early native Indians and Spanish pioneers, and continue through the end of the 20th century. The impact of their lives and work often reaches far beyond the shores and borders of the Sunshine State. Although these women are no longer with us, their impact is felt today in the state of Florida and its people. In the 20th century, the fabric and patterns of American women's daily life began to change. Hard won opportunities redirected energy and interest toward the working world and public service. Many women redirected their talents to support social reforms such as the temperance movement and the right to vote.

Throughout the Florida Women's Heritage Trail, quilt patterns are a recurring visual theme. As the recognized province of women, these products of labor and love came to represent the intricate, diverse fabric of women's lives. Florida authors of the 1930s and 1940s, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Zora Neale Hurston, portrayed quilts as ritual. Hurston's novel, Seraph on the Suwanee, features middle-aged Arvay, closing her dead mother's eyes and wrapping her in three quilts of her mother's making. In Cracker Chidlings, a work of short fiction, Rawlings draws the picture of a group of women gathered together for a quilting bee.

At the beginning of the 21st century, women continue to redefine their roles as reflected in the achievements of Floridians such as Gwendolyn Sawyer Cherry and Elaine Gordon. Quilts and quilting have also been redefined. Quilts have become widely accepted as a work of art, and are collected by museums and displayed in exhibits. Quilts tell women's stories. They represent the strong and delicate threads that weave women into Florida's heritage — a past we all share. 

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Published by the Florida Department of State,
Division of Historical Resources.
ISBN #1-889030-19-8