David Hurst Thomas, Curator of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History (N.Y.), Whatever Happened to the Franciscan Missions of Spanish Florida?
A remarkable nostalgia and romance has long surrounded the Franciscan mission experience across America’s Spanish Borderlands—from San Francisco (California), through the American Southwest to San Augustine (Florida). Mainstream historical narratives have constructed and perpetuated an idealized, romanticized version of the Spanish mission in America – complete with Mission Revival architectural styles and reconstructed archaeological sites that sometimes look like Hollywood stage sets. Somewhere along the way, the Spanish missions of early Florida evaporated from the national narrative. This illustrated talk draws upon the most current archaeological and ethnohistorical evidence that documents a radically different history of Franciscan missions in Spanish Florida, perhaps suggesting some more historically-appropriate perspectives on America’s miss