By Robin Grunwald
The Florida Wildlife Magazine was first published in 1947 by the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission (FGFC) for educating the public in an entertaining format. With support from the legislature, the serial was created to convince the public hunters, anglers, and recreationalists of regulatory benefits and conservation. It is a collection of art and narratives by some of Florida’s most distinguished naturalists. The FWC Research Information Center (RIC) currently receives requests for FWM articles from scientists seeking earlier FGFC perspectives and regulations. A request for all the articles related to bears inspired a project idea to create an online collection of the magazine.
Access to information is a critical component of conservation education and effective research. The Fish and Wildlife Research Institute’s (FWRI) focus on sharing knowledge for advancing science and improving connections to Florida’s environment recognizes this mission includes access to important historical narratives. With support from the FWRI, the RIC was awarded funding from the William H. Flowers, Jr. Foundation and the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida to preserve and share a digital format of the Florida Wildlife Magazine collection in the agency’s publicly accessible repository- the FWC Digital Library. This open online access provides research opportunities to educators, scientists, and stakeholders.
Preserving the Florida Wildlife Magazine accounts of Florida’s hunting and fishing heritage is also important for establishing a permanent archive of Florida’s rich fishing and wildlife history. The RIC hired Kim Rousseau to learn digital imaging for preservation and create metadata on every article for the most obscure first 30 years of the serial. Every issue from 1947 through 1979 was digitized to Federal Agencies Digital Guidelines for archival preservation.
The Florida Wildlife Magazine Digital Preservation Project safeguards this Florida treasure and its significant record of progression to Florida’s current regulatory environment into perpetuity. The project also directly speaks to the current mantra of prominent research libraries by creating wider access to research via digital content. The FWCDL is currently the only option for online access to an archive collection of the early Florida Wildlife Magazine editions.