SPECIAL PRESENTATION FRIDAY, AUGUST 4 – Florida Citrus Labels: Signs of the Times

“Vintage Florida citrus labels are more than brightly colored collectibles; they represent snippets of American history.” So says award-winning Sarasota author and historian Liz Coursen as she looks over her voluminous collection of labels, postcards, photographs, maps, books and other Florida material. “This whole collecting category is called ‘ephemera,’ and it is indeed amazing that any of these fragile things have survived to be appreciated today.”

Coursen, a self-professed “paper lover,” will share parts of her citrus label collection from 6:00-7:00 p.m., on Friday, August 4, at the Historical Exhibits and Education Center, in a program titled “Florida Citrus Labels: Signs of the Times.” The fast-paced, 45-minute PowerPoint program, hosted by the Friends of Sarasota County History Center, coincides with “Crate Expectations: An Exhibit of Florida Citrus Crate Labels,” a Travelling Exhibition of the TREX Program by Museum of Florida History at the historic Chidsey Library Building.









“Citrus labels are miniature works of art—the colors and the graphics are as bright and as appealing today as they were 80 years ago, “ according to Coursen. “One of the untold stories about citrus labels is the cutthroat competition that existed not only among the Florida-based growers, but, on a larger scale, between Florida and California to win the hearts, minds, and wallets of the buying population in the Northeast,” she says. “Both states were vying to capture the imagination of consumers as a healthy place, and not just a healthy place but “the” healthy place for growing fruits and vegetables as well as “the” healthy place for tourists and retirees. It’s a fascinating dynamic, and citrus labels were just one of the areas where each state was trying to create a competitive advantage over the other.”

A reception with light hors d’oeuvres will start at 5:30, with the program to follow at 6 P.M. Admission is free, but reservations are encouraged; call 941-361-2453 or e-mail info@foschc.org. There’s plenty of free parking and the event is open to the public.

Coursen, the author of 14 books, offers an original repertoire of more than 40 educational programs, many of which focus on Florida’s history. “Florida is especially interesting because of the tension between being a “Southern” state, by law and by custom, as any Southern state you’d care to mention, and yet being perceived by many people as simply the manifestation of Walt Disney’s imagination,” says Coursen. “I like watching my audiences “lean in” when I talk about Florida and its history.” Her other interests include American English—11 of her 14 are about American English punctuation and grammar, African- and Jewish-American history, and public speaking.


“Wonderful event today! Thank you very much for all those great gifts for the kids.” Vanessa Bush

On July 22, families enjoyed learning about the Florida Citrus Industry and the history of citrus in our state, which actually goes back to the Spanish colonial times 500 years ago. Kids got an introduction to Marvel’s newest Avenger, Captain Citrus, and were given ultra-rare Marvel Comics Avengers Assemble #1 featuring Captain Citrus along with super rare Captain Citrus collector cards!

Visitors also checked out the amazing citrus history exhibit, “Crate Expectations” which is open until August 31.

Thank you to Florida Citrus for the comics and The Dark Side – Comics & Games in Sarasota!

SUMMER EXHIBITION: Now through August 31

This exhibit is a collection of citrus labels that represent the thousands used in Florida between the late 1800s and the 1960s. The labels in this exhibit are framed and ready for hanging and offer viewers a broad cross-section of one of Florida’s most colorful forms of advertising. Between the late 1800s and the 1960s, colorful paper labels decorated the ends of wooden crates that transported Florida citrus produce to northern markets.

A Travelling Exhibition of the TREX Program by Museum of Florida History

Historical Exhibits and Education Center at the Historic Chidsey Library Building
701 North Tamiami Trail, Sarasota



On June 23 historian and author, Dr. Frank Cassell, presented an informative talk about his new book,  “Suncoast Empire: Bertha Honore Palmer, Her Family, and the Rise of Sarasota” and then he signed copies and chatted one-on-one with attendees. There were light refreshments served, and people also toured the exhibits. 

The Friends thank Dr. Cassell for the great event. Stop by our gift shop to purchase a copy of the book all about Sarasota’s most influential woman from the past, Bertha Palmer.