Historical Collections

Click to access the Historic Image Digital Collection Our Historic Digital Collections  include over 30,000 images which portray Manatee County people, activities, and buildings from the late nineteenth century to the early 1980's, as well as historic speeches and interviews.  Images are free to download for personal use and fair use. Please give credit to the Manatee County Public Library Historic Digital Collections if re-using these items. 


Upcoming Events

Eaton Exhibit: Bradenton Eateries, Then and Now

includes local restaurant tastings

Thursday, April 20  11:00 AM








The Life and Times of Dr. William Daniel Sugg

Talk presentd by Lela Hartsaw

Central Library

Saturday, April 29 1:00 PM







Historical Exhibit: Old Town of Manatee









Elizabeth Eaton Florida History Reading Room

The Eaton Room was created by a trust provision in the will of Elizabeth M. Eaton, a local philanthropist who died in 1973. The initial collection was developed and selected from the collections of the county libraries, as well as purchases of antiquarian Florida material.


Local history materials, yearbooks, telephone books, city directories and items such as oral interviews and archival negatives from the Manatee County Historical Society were then added to the Eaton Room Collection. 


The Eaton Room collection houses the following resources at the Central Library:


  • City directories of Manatee County dating back to 1897.
  • Yearbooks from local high schools and private schools, some dating back to 1916
  • Federal census records of Florida on microfilm dating back to 1830.
  • Soundex indexes and later state census statistics and microfilm
  • Local newspapers, weekly and daily, on microfilm
  • Historical maps and aerial photos, clippings, programs
  • Transcribed oral interviews and speeches
  • Hundreds of books on local and Florida history
  • Bound journals and magazines such as The Florida Historical Quarterly, Sarasota Magazine, Florida Monthly, Florida trend and more.
  • State of Florida and Manatee County government documents
  • Florida Statistical Abstracts
  • The Florida Handbook is now available online via the FSU Digital Library (1947-2012) and the Florida House of Representatives (2014- )


Genealogy Collection

The Manatee County Central Library has an extensive genealogy collection that is available to the public for in-house use, as well as a selection of general genealogy materials that may be checked out. Our collection's scope is for states east of the Mississippi River, concentrating on the colonial states, though we do have some materials from west of the Mississippi. Types of materials include:


  • Census Indexes
  • Census records in either book or microform format
  • Other vital records (e.g. birth, marriage, death records, etc.)
  • General “how-to” references on tracing family records, how to do research or how to obtain and organize genealogical data
  • Maps, gazetteers, atlases that assist in defining geographic boundaries of localities in this collection
  • State, county, city or township histories that trace or identify early settlers or suggest research sources
  • Materials that identify or trace geographic name changes
  • Books or pamphlets that identify national migration trails, or ethnic migration patterns or dates
  • Nationally recognized genealogical periodicals; periodicals and newsletters from genealogical societies
  • Military rosters, church records or other community registers
  • Florida materials relating to genealogy will be placed in this collection and not in the Eaton Room 

This collection also includes materials on foreign ancestry including:


  • Immigration and passenger lists and related indexes
  • Introductions and general guides to research sources for foreign countries
  • Books that trace a particular nationality’s arrival, migration and settlement in the U.S. 


Online Genealogy Resources from the Library

Heritage Quest Online: Search U.S. Census records (1790-1930), books, periodical articles and more

America’s GenealogyBank: Search historical newspapers, books, documents and the Social Security Death Index  

Recommended Websites  Scroll down the Genealogy for great websites you can use.


America’s GenealogyBank    User Guide for Newsbank Infoweb and Genealogy Bank

Salem History    User Guide for Salem Press
Sources in U.S. History Online: The Civil War 
Student Resources- History Reference Center
U.S. History Collection



NextReads Newsletters in History and Current Events

Sign up to receive this in your email inbox!