Joanna Norris, Associate Director Department of Public Relations (904) 620-2102
Joanna Norris, Associate Director
Department of Public Relations
Dr. J.Michael Francis, a professor of history at the University of North Florida, was appointed last week by the Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to the St. Augustine 450th Commemoration Commission. Founded by the Spanish in 1565, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied European-established city in the continental United States.
The secretarially-appointed members of the Commission—a total of 13 members—will plan and carry out programs and activities to mark the 450th anniversary of the city’s founding in 2015. Congress established the Commission as part of the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 and charged it with ensuring a suitable national observance of St. Augustine’s 450th anniversary by complementing the programs and activities of the State of Florida and the City of St. Augustine.
“I am pleased that these passionate and accomplished individuals have agreed to serve St. Augustine and our nation by serving on this Commission,” Salazar said. “As stewards of our nation’s great history, the Department of the Interior and the Commission will work to ensure that the story of St. Augustine and our Spanish ancestors is recognized and preserved for generations to come.”
Francis, a San Marco resident, has taught at UNF since 1997 and received his doctorate in History from the University of Cambridge. He has written several books and his most recent book, “Murder and Martyrdom in Spanish Florida: Don Juan and the Guale Uprising of 1597” will be published this summer by the American Museum of Natural History. The book examines the murders of five Franciscan friars stationed in the northern region of Spanish Florida (in modern Georgia). Currently, Francis is completing his next book project, “The Martyrs of Florida,” which is under contract with the University Press of Florida.
Francis was named the 2010-2011 Jay I. Kislak Fellow at the Library of Congress. Since last September, he has been a resident scholar at the Library of Congress, where he has continued his research on the early history of Spanish Florida.Since 2008, Francis has served on the editorial board for the University Press of Florida. His numerous awards and honors include a Cushwa Grant from the University of Notre Dame, a Franklin Research Grant from the American Philosophical Society and the Alfred J. Beveridge Award from the American Historical Society. In 2007, he received a four-year appointment as Research Fellow at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez de Avilés founded St. Augustine in 1565 under a grant from King Phillip II of Spain. St. Augustine was often a site of conflict as European nations competed with each other for control of the New World and, at various times, the flags of Spain, England and the United States have flown over the city. Union forces occupied the city in 1862.
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