March 25, 2019
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Reliving Florida's history as a Spanish colony, online

Miami, Mar 30 (efe-epa).- A professor in the US has hitched up with a Spanish technology firm to show through a dynamic online experience in English what life in Florida was like in its over three centuries as a Spanish colony.

Instead of recreating those times with historic eminences, "La Florida, The Interactive Digital Archive of the Americas" (laflorida.org) rescues from oblivion and gives names, faces and a collective biography to the bakers, shoemakers, tailors, housewives and many other colonizers of what today is the southeast United States.

The Web site that premiered this month continually presents to its audience new discoveries of the research underway among the thousands of historic documents about Florida found in European and American archives.

"It's incredible the information that exists, both for the quantity and quality," J. Michael Francis, professor at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg (USFSP) and executive director of the project, told EFE when asked if it is true the Spanish Empire recorded everything that happened in its possessions.

USFSP, the Edriel Intelligence company and the Nauta Foundation, the latter two Spanish, are partners in "Florida: Interactive Digital Archive of the Americas," which up to now incorporates the data of almost 4,000 individuals who lived in San Agustin (now St. Augustine), the city founded in 1565 by Spain's Pedro Menendez de Aviles.

Francis, a Canadian living in Florida for the past 20 years and an assiduous visitor to the General Archive of the Indies in Seville, noted that the project is mounted on two pillars: high quality technology and new research.

As for the second pillar, an infinity of examples exists on the Web page, while Francis himself is a living encyclopedia.

If he is asked, for example, how Holy Week was celebrated in Florida in the 16th century, he will instantly answer "with processions and cannon salvos."

There are many archives in Spain, like those in Seville and in Simancas, that are full of facts about Florida, which was officially Spanish until 1821, though there was a parenthesis between 1763-1784 when it was under the Spanish crown.

Edriel Intelligence and the project's innovation director, Francisco Guitard, have created an entertaining Web site that is easy to manage, with a great deal of information, illustrations and videos, plus some fun for young history lovers like an app that makes it possible to write messages with the calligraphy of centuries XVI, XVII and XVIII.

Edriel has also developed a technology that makes it possible to "read" and understand ancient documents shown on the Web page.

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