Writing about the past in South Dade is quite a challenge. The biggest reason for this is that this area has always had a very transient population. When people left, they obviously took their history with them and if those stories weren’t documented prior to their departure, they have been lost. Another reason is that so much documentation, artifacts and photographs have been lost in fires and hurricanes. Historians working in this area have their work cut out for them. I’ve been very fortunate in making contact with a number of people who have been extraordinarily gracious and generous in sharing what they know.
The history of South Dade is almost virgin territory. Jean Taylor wrote a book called The Villages of South Dade that has been something of a “go-to” resource for many people interested in the history of South Dade. Over a period of 12 years, starting in about 1969, she interviewed hundreds of pioneers and their children and published her work in 1984. The book has to be used with great caution, as there are hundreds of errors in it. The Villages of South Dade is mostly based on oral history, which is a flashing yellow light for any historian. In the pre-Internet age, she did not have access to the resources historians now do. She had no training in writing (her degree was in fine art), she had no editor and she freely plagiarized the work of others, a cardinal sin for writers. While her book is an essential starting point for historians working in the field of South Dade history it, like any work, should not be treated as the ‘last word’ in the historiography of this area. No published work, including mine, is exempt from being subjected to critiques. There is no ‘truth’ in history, only a variety of perspectives. All of this said, if she had not published her book, we would all know significantly less than we do so we owe her a great debt of gratitude for her efforts.
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About the Author
I retired in 2013 and have lived in the Homestead area my entire life. Needless to say, I’ve seen a lot of changes over the years. I write about the history of this area for at least three reasons. First, like many authors, the discipline of writing helps me make sense of the past. Second, I explore subjects, in depth, that may not have been covered by other writers. And third, I write to counter the idea that there was a “Golden Age” in the past in South Dade where everything was perfect. My goal is to build a base of semi-scholarly articles that can be used as a starting point for others. I’ve also created a guide to a number of resources for others to use. They are available by moving your mouse over the Resources tab on the main menu bar and clicking on a subject of interest.
I was told some years ago by a prominent Homestead citizen that I had an agenda. Yes, I do. We all do. I write bottoms-up history and am not a subscriber to the Big Man school of history. I write about those ignored by other writers, people of color and ordinary working-class people. I was asked by another person how I picked subjects to write about. First, there has to be sufficient information to even start the project. That is very often not the case. Second, the subject has not been covered in any depth in any publication that I am aware of. And finally, the subject has to be manageable – I don’t have the time or energy to write a book-length dissertation about it. That rules out subjects like the history of agriculture, as important a subject as that is, or the role the Army, Air Force and Navy have played in the history of South Dade.
I hope you enjoy reading what I’ve written. Comments and suggestions are always welcome!