Jerry Wilkinson Research Library

The Jerry Wilkinson Research Library is a non-circulating library and reading room at the Keys History & Discovery Center. The Research Library archives and special collections are owned by the Florida Keys History and Discovery Foundation, Inc.

The official opening of the Research Library is scheduled for September 2018 Please check back for more information on utilizing the Research Library.

Mission of the Jerry Wilkinson Research Library

To protect, preserve and create resources and enrich understanding of Florida Keys history for present day and future generations.

Scope of Collections

The Jerry Wilkinson Research Library currently houses four donated archival and special collections. These collections, which are currently in the initial stages of being processed, comprise:

  • Newspapers: Bound volumes of three Florida Keys newspaper: the Keynoter, Reporter and Key West Keynoter – dating from 1963. The Keynoter and Reporter served to illustrate and bind together the colorful social fabric of the Florida Keys for many years. However, print production for both newspapers was halted in April 2018, so preservation of these widely-read local papers will provide a valuable resource for researchers and the community.
  • The Jerry Wilkinson collection: The largest of three personal collections was donated by regionally renowned historian Jerry Wilkinson, president of the Historical Preservation Society of the Upper Keys. Mr. Wilkinson also donated more than 50 linear feet of both popular and rare books.
  • The Jim Clupper collection was donated by the family of deceased local librarian and archeology enthusiast, Jim Clupper.
  • The Willie Drye collection includes research and manuscripts gathered by the author in support of Drye’s book Storm of the Century: The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935.
  • Periodicals include History Talk from the Florida Upper Keys
  • Artifacts: hand-carved reproductions of Native American tools.
  • Various unique documents, photos, pieces of artwork, memorabilia and other historical materials, including previously not yet digitized microfilm run of Keys Veterans News from the early 1930s, invaluable oral histories dating back to the 1970s and original photographs and maps previously belonging to Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway Chief Engineer, William Krome.


  • To acquire, identify, preserve and provide access to unique and wide-ranging collections of research materials, including books, newspapers, periodicals, manuscripts, scholarly research materials, archives, art, photographs, audio-visual materials, ephemera, memorabilia and other items related to Florida Keys history.
  • To provide research services and access to the collections to historians, researchers, students, visitors, genealogists and the general community.
  • To interpret and highlight relevant themes, such as genealogy and family histories, from the Library’s collections through public exhibitions, educational displays and presentations.
  • To draw scholars to the Florida Keys and enhance the KHDC’s growing reputation as an institution which enriches and clarifies understandings of Florida Keys’ history. This purpose is consistent with the Jerry Wilkinson Research Library’s vision to be the recognized institution providing a cohesive narrative of the Florida Keys’ History through ongoing research.
  • To foster research and publication as a direct result of access to the unique materials in the archival collections.
  • To provide an educational resource, especially to students, in the fields of Florida Keys history, culture, and environmental history.
  • To serve as the repository for official records of KHDC of permanent historical value.

Donating to the Keys History & Discovery Center Collection

The Jerry Wilkinson Research Library has grown because of generous donations from individuals who have a passion for preserving and sharing Upper Keys history. If you have documents, photographs, etc., that you are interested in contributing please review the acquisition criteria below.

Acquisition Criteria

In developing the Library’s archives and special collections, the principal objects targeted for acquisition and care are:

  • Material produced in the Florida Keys;
  • Material used in the Florida Keys but created elsewhere; 
  • Materials not made or used in the Florida Keys, but related to the history of the region and collected for research, exhibit and educational use.

Archives, special collections and materials acquired for the collection should be complete, in good condition and as fully documented as possible.

The decision to acquire a material is based upon number of factors:

  • Supports the mission and goals of the Jerry Wilkinson Research Library;
  • Significance, such as association with an event, person historical period or geographical area
  • Representative of other materials of its kind;
  • Physical condition;
  • Availability of human and financial resources to acquire, document, preserve and preserve the material;
  • Opportunities for use for research or education;
  • Any restriction on use or disposition of the object;
  • Attributes that make the object a threat to users or other objects.

Original material will be accepted into the Photo Archives at the discretion of the Curator, Director or Archivist.

The Library does not accept donations of object(s) of questionable origin (legal or ethical). The organization will not accept materials associated with the destruction of historic or archeological sites or in violation of the terms and conditions of state and federal
laws and statutes.

If you believe you meet the criteria above, please complete the potential donation form  to provide us with a description and our curator will reach out to you. If you are unable to complete the online form, call Curator Brad Bertelli at 305-395-9889 for further assistance.

If you are interested in donating materials to the Jerry Wilkinson Research Library, please complete the form below to the best of your ability and Curator Brad Bertelli will reach out to you to discuss further.

What kind of item is it?* (check all that apply)
Object/artifactAudio recording - album, DVD, oral history, etc.BookPhotographMapPictureArchitectural drawing or recordManuscriptScrapbookOther printed material- postcard, menu, ticket, ad, periodical, etc.Other- describe below

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