Dr. Harry A. Kersey, Jr.
Kersey's Finding Aid
Kersey, Jr. is Professor Emeritus of History at Florida
Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida. A native
Floridian, he received his Bachelor of Arts and Masters
degrees from the University of Florida, and holds a Ph.D.
from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
a rich background in international research and teaching.
He has been a Fulbright Senior Scholar at two African
universities—the University of Zimbabwe (1984) and the
National University of Lesotho (1988)—where he lectured and
initiated research on comparative frontier history. In 1996
the United States Information Agency sponsored his
appearance as a Visiting Lecturer on American Indian history
at the Linguistics University of Nizhny Novgorod in Russia.
During 2000 he was a Fulbright Senior Scholar at the
National Library of New Zealand conducting research for a
comparative study of Maori and American Indian sovereignty
issues. The Treaty of Waitangi Research Unit at Victoria
University of Wellington published his initial research
findings. As a follow-up to the New Zealand work, Kersey
was awarded a Visiting Research Fellowship at the East-West
Center in Honolulu during the summer of 2001. He returned
to New Zealand in 2002 and 2005 as a Fulbright Senior
Specialist examining the impact of Maori issues in New
Kersey has extensive experience working in cross-cultural
settings both in the United States and abroad, and is well
versed in the skills required to interact with indigenous
colleagues in analyzing and assessing state and NGO
programs. Recognized as an expert on the history and
culture of Florida Indians, he served as a consultant to the
Seminole Tribe in its land claims and water rights cases.
The Miccosukee Tribe also engaged him in their efforts to
overturn PL 83-280 and secure retrocession of jurisdiction
in criminal cases from state to tribal courts. He has also
appeared as an expert witness in federal court cases
involving Indian civil rights issues. For a decade Kersey
served as a member of the Florida Governor’s Council on
Indian Affairs, a commission that advises the state’s chief
executive on policy matters affecting native peoples. By
law the Council’s membership is comprised of two-thirds
Indians and one-third are at-large members. At the request
of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, three successive governors
appointed Kersey as an at-large member during the period
written extensively on issues impacting indigenous people.
His trilogy on Florida’s Indians in the 19th and 20th
century includes Pelts, Plumes and Hides: White Traders
among the Seminole Indians, 1870-1930 (Florida, 1975), which
received a commendation from the American Association for
State and Local History. The other works were: The Florida
Seminoles and the New Deal, 1933-1942 (Florida, 1989), and
An Assumption of Sovereignty: Social and Political
Transformation among the Seminole Indians, 1953-1979
(Nebraska, 1996). Buffalo Tiger: A Life in the Everglades
(Nebraska, 2002), a biography co-authored with legendary
Miccosukee Indian leader Buffalo Tiger, received both the
James Horgan Book Award and the Samuel Proctor Oral History
Prize from the Florida Historical Society in 2003. His most
recent work is Seminole Voices: Reflections on Their
Changing Society, 1970-2000 (Nebraska, 2010), co-authored
with Julian Pleasants. Seminole Voices
received a silver medal in the non-fiction
category of the 2010 Florida Book Awards. It also won the
Harry and Harriet Moore Book Award and The Samuel Proctor
Oral History Prize given by the Florida Historical Society.
In addition to eleven books, Kersey
has authored or co-authored over 80 articles and chapters in
scholarly works. In 1987 he received the Arthur W. Thompson
Prize awarded by the Florida Historical Society for the best
article on Florida history.
been the recipient of numerous study and research grants
from agencies including the American Philosophical Society,
National Endowment for the Humanities, The Newberry Library,
D’Arcy McNickle Center for the History of the American
Indian, Florida Humanities Council, and the American
Association for State and Local History. In 1998 Kersey
received the American Association for State and Local
History’s Award of Merit for “contributions to the
understanding of Florida history.” The same year he was
also selected as a recipient of the National Society
Daughters of the American Revolution History Award Medal.
Highly regarded as an excellent teacher, the State
University System of Florida selected professor Kersey for
its Teaching Improvement Program award in 1995, and a
prestigious Professorial Excellence Program award in 1998.
Professor Kersey is currently involved in
comparative research on indigenous rights, political
sovereignty, and the impact of minority issues on national
governments. In addition, he offers courses
both Florida Atlantic University and the University of
Hawai’i at Manoa.