Southwest Florida Historical Society

Research Center

Our Research Center is open to members, as well as the public. A large selection of historical books can be purchased in our Book Shop.

Our Map Room contains an extensive collection of rare old maps of Fort Myers and the surrounding areas.

Who Uses the SWFLHS

  • Writers: Authors and Columnists writing about the local history or looking for background information for their projects come to the Southwest Florida Historical Society (SWFLHS) to check our archives for information to help with their writing.
  • Family Genealogists: Folks researching their family ties to the Southwest Florida area come in to see if they can find a link to their families and places where they may have lived.
  • New Residents: People just moving into the area come in to research the history of their house if they have purchased an older home, or just to learn a little more of the history of their neighborhood.
  • Students: Students from local schools and colleges come in to conduct research for their class projects relating to historical places, businesses and people of the area.
  • History Buffs: People who are just interested in old records and pictures of what the area once was.

Our volunteer staff is always eager to help point visitors to the location of the information of interest to them.

Historic Photo Gallery

SWFLHS has scanned and cataloged thousands of pictures of Southwest Florida history and indexed them with thumbnail pictures for quick reference. Copies can be made for a nominal fee with credit given to the SWFLHS as the source. The digital images can be downloaded onto data media (i.e. DVD, CD, Thumb Drives, etc.) for a nominal fee. Our Index of photo thumbnails covers 53 categories such as People, Communities, Schools, Bridges, Buildings, Farms, etc. The Image Carousel on the HOME page is an example of the many photos we have in our collection and we continue to add more weekly.

  • Picture of thumbnail page in binder

    Thumbnail Images

  • Binders holding thumbnails of pictures

    Binders of Thumbnails

Other Local Historic Information Available

  • Historical newspapers (from the very first newpaper to more recent issues) and government records and some area pioneering family files are available to the public for research.

  • The Map Room has an inventory of early Florida and Southwest Florida maps including U.S., State Plat maps and local Subdivision Plat maps as well as D.O.T. maps.

  • Old High School Year Books

  • Information on Local Area Schools

  • Old City Directories

  • Old Telephone Books

Authors Using SWFLHS Archives

Gerri Reaves

  • Fort Myers (Then and Now: Florida) (May 19, 2008)
  • Legendary Locals of Fort Myers (July 23, 2012)

T.M. Jacobs

  • Almost Home: The 1864 Diary of Sergeant Samuel E. Grosvenor (March 20, 2011)
  • H. E. Heitman: An Early Entrepreneur of Fort Myers, Florida (2014)

Tom Smoot

  • The Edisons of Fort Myers: Discoveries of the Heart (March 2, 2011)

John Woolslair Sheppard

  • One Man’s Family in Early Fort Myers 1898–1945 (November 5, 2008)
  • I Can See Clearly Now (December 18, 2009)
  • Impact: Six Degrees of Separation (November 26, 2014)