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A Guide to the Johns Committee Collection

Finding aid created by Bridget Bihm-Manuel

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections

December 2019



Descriptive Summary

Creator: Florida. Legislature. Legislative Investigation Committee.
Title: Johns Committee Collection
Dates: 1963-1965
Abstract: Documents produced by the Florida Legislative Investigation Committee, also known as the Johns Committee, as part of its mission to investigate homosexuals in the state of Florida.
Extent: .21 Linear Feet. 1 Document Box.
Identification: MSS 0532
Language(s): English
Online ContentItems from this collection have been digitized and are available online in the UF Digital Collections. For more information please see the note below.

Biographical/Historical Note

In 1956, the Florida Legislature established the Florida Legislative Investigation Committee, also known as the Johns Committee. Its purpose was "to make as complete an investigation as time permits of all organizations whose principles or activities include a course of conduct on the part of any person or group which would constitute violence, or a violation of the laws of the state, or would be inimical to the well being and orderly pursuit of their personal and business activities by the majority of the citizens of this state." (Laws of Florida, 1956, Chapter 31498). Headed by Senator Charlie Johns, members of the committee sought to connect members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and other civil rights activists to communism in an effort to undermine their efforts at desegregation. When these measures failed, the committee then sought to investigate homosexuals in education, particularly among students, faculty, and staff at Florida universities, starting with the University of Florida in 1958. As a result of these investigations, many faculty and students were forced to leave the university. In 1964, the Johns Committee published Homosexuality and Citizenship in Florida, which was also called the "purple pamphlet" because of its purple cover. The committee faced intense criticism after many people considered the publication to be pornographic. As a result, the Florida legislature disbanded the committee in 1965.


Scope and Content

The Johns Committee Collection contains several documents produced by the Florida Legislative Investigation Committee as part of its investigation into homosexual activity in educational institutions, particularly colleges and universities. It also includes a file of reference material compiled by former librarian Sally Cravens.


Access or Use Restrictions

Access

The collection is open for research.


Related or Separated Material

The Department of Special and Area Studies Collections holds the Steven F. Lawson Research Papers.

The Department of Special and Area Studies Collections also holds the Sigismond deRudensheim Diettrich Papers. Diettrich was a professor at the University of Florida who was forced to resign after being investigated by the Florida Legislative Investigation Committee.

The University of Florida Digital Collections holds Behind Closed Doors, a short documentary produced by Allyson A. Beutke, as her thesis for a master's degree in Mass Communication through the Documentary Institute in the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida.

The State Archives of Florida holds the Florida Legislative Investigation Committee records.


Administrative Information

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital reproductions of selected items in the Johns Committee Collection are available online via the University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC). Please read the Permissions for Use statement for information on copyright, fair use, and use of UFDC digital objects.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Johns Committee Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Acquisition Information

Transferred from the Florida vertical file, State Documents Collection. Folder of reference material from the State Archives donated by Bob Karp in December 2019.


Contents List

Box Folder
11 Florida Legislative Investigation Committee Interim Report. 1964 March
12 "Homosexuality and Citizenship in Florida"--Purple Pamphlet. 1964 January
13 Report of the Florida Legislative Investigation Committee . 1965 February
14 Rules of Procedure--Legislative Investigation Committee. 1963
15 Reference Material on the Johns Committee Collected by Former Librarian Sally Cravens. undated
16 Reference Material--Newspaper Clippings, Handwritten Notes, and Photocopies of Florida State Archives Material. undated

Bibliography

Schnur, James A. "Closet Crusaders: The Johns Committee and Homophobia. In Carryin' On in the Lesbian and Gay South, edited by John Howard. New York: New York University Press, 1997.


Selected Subjects and Access Terms

Anti-communist movements.
Florida.
Florida. Legislature. Legislative Investigation Committee.
Governmental investigations.
Homosexuality.




For further information, please contact: Special Collections Access Services.

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