Archives, Our History, and the Future


This internship has officially launched! I am currently getting settled into my office located in the Bill Robertson Center in the Everglades, and getting used to the official title of Archives Intern. I am also learning a lot about the history of the Everglades National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park. So what are archives? Why are they important? And, why do we have them at the National Parks?

Archives are part of the historical identity. They are a collection of historic documents that provide information about an organization, place or a group of people. Archives are important because they contain information and evidence of the past. They are valuable resources for historians, researchers, students, and anyone who wants to know about people, events, and places (like the Everglades or Dry Tortugas). They are essentially a tool for understanding and can be utilized to preserve the future. The Everglades National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park have a rich history and it is important to preserve it.

The Everglades National Park was established in 1947 in order to preserve its unique ecology. For thousands of years south Florida water flowed freely. All the water supported the unique ecosystem of the Everglades and tribes such as the Calusa and Tequesta. In the 1800s and early 1900s colonial settlers began to think of ways to drain all the water in order to create farm land. The development and transformation of the Everglades caused damage to the ecosystem and it affected plenty of the wildlife.

By the 1960s and 1970s, the Everglades played a role in the Cold War. The Nike Missile site was built in the Park. This affected the local Cuban communities. The archives help by preserving our cultural history; they also help in the efforts of conserving the endangered species at the park. Dry Tortugas is located 70 miles off the island of Key West. It was discovered by Ponce de Leon in 1513 and named after the sea turtles that were spotted in the area. In the mid-1800s Fort Jefferson was built.

During the civil War, Fort Jefferson was used as a military prison. One of the most famous prisoners is Dr. Samuel Mudd, who had been convicted in the conspiracy of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. The Army finally abandoned the fort and in 1935 Franklin D. Roosevelt designated Fort Jefferson as a National Monument. Dry Tortugas is now a wildlife refuge.

Through the archives historians, researchers, and scientists have been able to look at the past records of both the Everglades National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park and use them to keep history alive and find ways to preserve the natural wildlife.


“History and Culture.” Everglades National Park Florida. National Park Service. n.d. Web. June 15, 2016

“History and Culture.” Dry Tortugas National Park Florida. National Park Service. n.d. Web. June 15, 2016

Grunwald, Michael. “The Swamp” city of publication. Simon & Schuster. 2007. Print.


Written by Norma Hartell
Norma Hartell is an artist, anthropologist, and farmer. She received a Bachelor in Fine Arts (BFA) from New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico, in 2010. She continues to paint and exhibits her work annually. In 2016, Norma Hartell received an MA in Anthropology from the New Mexico State University. Her thesis focused on distinguishing the city of Las Cruces as an art community and documenting the fine art of the city. In 2015, during her time as a graduate student, Norma Hartell successfully nominated Chope’s Bar and Café to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. That same year, she initiated a community based project called Murals of Las Cruces. Murals of Las Cruces focuses on documenting the murals of the city while creating a conversation with the public about local history, culture, and identity. In May, 2015 Norma Hartell received the Arts and Science Outstanding Student Service Award from New Mexico State University. Aside from academia, Norma Hartell and her husband own and operate a self-sustaining one acre farm in Mesquite, NM.