NHPRC Everglades Digital Library

America's Swamp: the Historical Everglades Project

The May Mann Jennings Papers complement those of the two Governors because of her advocacy of the drainage project, and also because of her marriage to Gov. Jennings. However, the real strength of the collection is that it documents the conservation movement that developed at the start of the 20th century and the role of disenfranchised women in developing and lobbying for legislation to protect the environment. Jennings was a leading member of the women's club movement and an influential social reformer in Florida and nationwide. As president of the Florida Federation of Women's Clubs in 1915, she spearheaded the effort to establish the Royal Palm State Park, the precursor to the Everglades National Park. Her tireless campaigns to preserve portions of the Everglades may seem at odds with her support of the drainage project, but she was representative of many conservationists of this era who were able to reconcile seemingly conflicting positions. Thus, Jennings was able to support the drainage program promoted by Broward and her husband at the same time that she was arguing for the creation of the Royal Palm State Park.