History of the Bryant Collection at UCF

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In the late 1950's June Bryant's Florida and Caribbean collecting began when he purchased books during visits to Haiti and Jamaica. In 1962 Bryant purchased his first painting, "The Hat Seller", in Nassau, Bahamas. While some of the collection was purchased by Bryant himself, most was obtained by Mrs. Eleanor Sleight, Director of the Central Florida Museum (1960-1972). Eleanor Sleight worked closely with Bryant and became a representative of the William L. Bryant Foundation, buying the majority of the books, paintings and ethnic items during trips to the Caribbean in 1969, 1970, 1971 and 1972. He also purchased from catalogs of material for sale in both the islands and the U.S.

The Bryant West Indies Collection, as coined by Bryant, was eventually moved from the Central Florida Museum to Florida Technological University, the predecessor to UCF. In the early 1970's, Bryant was urged to move the collection to FTU (UCF) by Howard Phillips. It was important for Bryant to keep the collection in Florida, believing that Florida was the gateway to the Caribbean. He felt it would be a valued addition to the collections, so when Phillips stated that FTU was the only college able to accommodate such a collection, Bryant moved it to Florida Technological University in 1972.

Neighbors of Bryant in Tangerine, Howard and Peg Reuling, continued collecting in the late 1970's and early 1980's. They had established their main collection in a museum in Iowa, but during the mid 1980's began lending some of their works to the UCF Special Collections for special exhibits. This added to the already established collection in the UCF Library, which now included more then 1,600 rare books and other printed materials, metal and fabric crafts, sound recordings, paintings, sculptures, maps and musical instruments. The collection includes items from the West Indies, Caribbean and Florida, pertaining to the history, geography, economic and social life of these regions. Some of the items are rare, such as first editions autographed by authors and privately printed books with limited printings.

LINKS OF INTEREST

The Bryant collection contains a numerous types of items which are neither archaeological nor visual-artistic in nature. Below are links to the audio, slides, and ephemera collections also kept at UCF. There is also a link to the Digital Library of the Caribbean (maintained by the University of Florida in Gainesville), where a number of Bryant items have also found a home.

Guide to the Bryant audio collection

Guide to the Bryant slides collection

Guide to the Bryant ephemera collection

Digital Library of the Caribbean