Work Underway to Digitize 1500s Florida Records

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (AP) _ University of South Florida researchers are digitizing centuries-old Spanish documents housed at a Catholic convent in St. Augustine.

The documents date back to 1594 and reveal what life was like in the then-Spanish colony.

The project is timely because Florida is celebrating its 500th anniversary this year.

In April 1513, the Spanish monarchy contracted explorer Juan Ponce de Leon to find another island off Cuba that was rumored to have treasure.

Instead, he landed in Florida and named it “La Florida,” after the “feast of the flowers” during Spain’s Easter celebrations.

Records show that by the time Jamestown was settled in Virginia in the early 1600s, St. Augustine was a diverse home to 500 people of European, Native American and Caribbean descent, as well as freed and enslaved Africans.