In Memoriam, Dr. Carolyn Williams
Durkeeville Historical Society Museum Curator
Department of History, University of North Florida
Dr. Carolyn Williams, a native of Jacksonville who grew up in Durkeeville and graduated from Bishop Kenny High School, was an Associate Professor in the Department of History, Director of the Gender Studies Program, and Co-Director of the Bette J. Soldwedel Gender Research Center at the University of North Florida (UNF). She received the following degrees: B.A. in Psychology from Immaculate Heart College (Los Angeles), B.A. in History from UNF, M.A. in History from University of California at San Diego, and a Ph.D. in History from UCLA. At UNF Dr. Williams taught classes in American History, Multicultural Studies, Gender Studies, and Public History. Dr. Williams, who became a prominent local historian, author and speaker, died Tuesday, November 29, 2011. She was 63.
In 2006 her book, Historic Photos of Jacksonville, was published.
She had worked on a number of projects sponsored by the Cummer Museum of Arts and Gardens. In a 2008 interview, she said history can help revitalize a community by instilling pride and encouraging people to invest in its future.
She served as the historian for the Durkeeville Historical Society, corresponding secretary of the James Weldon Johnson chapter of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), historian for the Norman Studios Museum Board, a member of the Florida Historic Marker Commission, on the Executive Board of the St. Augustine Historical Society, a member of the Florida Task Force for African American History Curriculum, and a member of the advisory board of the Amelia Island Museum of History. She was also the Durkeeville Museum’s Curator from 1998 until her death.
Dr. Michael Francis, former chairman of the UNF history department, said he had received numerous email and Facebook messages from students, many who studied with her more than a decade ago and noted that her class was the one they remembered the most.
“She was an absolutely brilliant lecturer whose brilliance was exceeded only by her kindness,” Francis said.
Dr. Williams had a special connection with the Durkeeville Historical Center, and she will always be missed.