A few years ago I contacted a friend of mine who was writing a book about the 1715 Fleet. He was my “go to” guy, so to speak, whenever I needed some out of the way question about the 1715 Fleet answered. At the time, I was writing an article myself for the Society’s website. I was always amazed at his wealth of knowledge and his awareness of all the intimate details of 1715 Fleet history. During our discussion he shared a secret with me. The Indian River County Main Library in Vero Beach had a vast collection of Fleet related archival material available for the asking.
In January of 2015, I had the opportunity to visit the Library to see if I could gain access to the archives that my friend raved about. What I found was truly amazing. There were boxes upon boxes of old articles, newspaper accounts, photographs and related material which I could personally view. It was at that time that I met Pam Cooper, Supervisor of the Archive Center and Genealogy Department of the Indian River County Main Library. Through Pam’s help and cooperation, I was able to download this material so that I could save it for future reference. It was fascinating to read firsthand accounts of salvage operations from the 1940’s, 1950’s, 1960’s and beyond.
Following my visit, Pam and I kept in touch. She took a keen interest in the 300th Anniversary Commemoration. She was instrumental in scheduling and coordinating a number of events that occurred during Commemoration Week in July 2015. Recently, I had a conversation with Pam. I asked her how this archival material might be made available to researchers, historians or individuals who did not live in the immediate Vero Beach area. Pam indicated that while the Library does not offer direct access to the archival material through the internet, they do have “finding aids” on their website which can help an interested person locate, online, 1715 Fleet related material. These “finding aids” can be found by visiting the Library’s website at irclibrary.org/genealogy. Once on the website, “finding aids” can be found under the general title of GUIDES AND INDEXES. Once accessed, the “finding aids” will direct you to the Indian River County and Florida Collections. The first listed item is “1715 Spanish Shipwrecks”. This link will take you to several boxes of newspaper articles, published articles, photographs and miscellaneous donated reports.
Pam indicated that anyone wishing to obtain any information from the Collection can do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for the specific item. Pam concluded by noting that the Library continues to add new articles and resources often. Currently, the Collection of Fleet related material has been expanded to four boxes.
Aside from serious researchers, few people know that this Collection even exists and is available at the Indian River County Main Library. Pam had a lot to do with gathering this material and organizing it for the Library. Pam will be retiring in December of 2016. She will be sorely missed but remembered for her efforts to preserve, for future generations, the archival record of the 1715 Fleet.