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First Families of Florida

Inaugurations

On inauguration day, Florida's first families have a variety of official and social duties. Since 1873, the date set for the inauguration of Florida's governors has been the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January, following the November general election. On this special occasion, governors and their families participate in swearing-in ceremonies, parades, and a variety of gala celebrations.

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In the days before Florida had a Governor's Mansion, state officials rented living quarters or stayed with friends. In a photograph titled, "After the Inauguration," Governor William S. Jennings, members of his elected cabinet, and two of their wives pose outside an unidentified Tallahassee home on January 8, 1901. Note the old-fashioned butter churn on the porch to the left in the photograph.


Inaugural programs of William S. Jennings, January 8, 1901; and Millard Caldwell, January 2, 1945.

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Inaugural committee badge, transportation committee from the time of William S. Jennings, 1901.
(Private Collection)


Most of the men wore bowler or Stetson hats during the inauguration of Napoleon B. Broward on January 3, 1905. No microphones or loudspeakers were present at this early date.

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Sidney J. Catts was the first governor to have automobiles in his inaugural parade on January 2, 1917. Catts rode in the parade in the Model-T Ford that he used while campaigning for governor as the candidate of the Prohibition Party.


Mrs. Hardee wore this reversible black and fuschia velvet evening cape over her inaugural ball gown on the evening of her husband, Governor Cary Augustus Hardee's, inauguration. Maude Hardee was an excellent seamstress, but we do not know if she created this garment herself or purchased it.

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Chief Justice Rivers Buford administers the oath of office to Governor David Sholtz on January 5, 1933. By the 1930s, both radio and public address microphones were regular features of such public occasions.


For most governors, the final event of the inaugural day is the inaugural ball. Mildred Thompson Cone poses for a publicity photograph in her inaugural gown, December 1936

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This carbon copy bill from the Elinor Doyle Flower Shop in 1941 documents the corsages and flowers used by Spessard Holland and his family on inauguration day, January 7, 1941. It is interesting to note that one dollar in 1941 was worth a little more than twenty dollars today.


Millard Caldwell wore this formal morning suit made of a very finely woven wool when he was sworn in as Florida's twenty-ninth governor on January 2, 1945.

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At the 1945 inaugural ball of her husband, Governor Millard Caldwell, Mary Harwood Caldwell wore a full-length, black lace gown that featured a fuchsia satin bow at the neckline, short puffed sleeves, and a three-tiered set-in skirt.


Mary Harwood Caldwell wore this hat, circa 1948, to official functions during her husband's tenure as governor. On the inauguration day of his successor, Fuller Warren, she wore it to the daytime swearing-in ceremony. The hat is a beige felt, equestrian-style, with peach tulle material around the crown and off the back.

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An elaborately decorated float in the inaugural parade of Governor Fuller Warren on January 4, 1949.


Governor Fuller Warren and Governor-elect Dan McCarty ride in a 1953 Cadillac convertible. The porch of the Governor's Mansion, elaborately decorated with bunting, is in the background.

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Inaugural program of Fuller Warren, January 4, 1949.


Within this polished brass time capsule, sealed on January 4, 1949, were two acetate phonograph records that contained the inaugural ceremonies of Governor Fuller Warren. The box was opened and the recordings played at the Museum of Florida History on the 50th anniversary of that speech. The full speech can be heard in the State Archives of Florida. Here are some clips from that speech:
Swearing-in ceremony
(54 sec.)
"...a dollar's worth of government..."
(37 sec.)
"...roaming livestock from the roads..."
(31 sec.)

These audio clips require Real Audio.

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Dr. George Gore, president of Florida A & M College (1950-68), poses with State Senator LeRoy Collins and Governor Dan McCarty at the inaugural ball on January 6, 1953.


Olie Brown McCarty, wife of governor-elect Dan McCarty, poses in her inaugural ball gown in January 1953.

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Because Charley Johns succeeded to the governorship after the death in office of Dan McCarty, there was no inaugural ball when Governor Johns took office. Thelma Brinson Johns wore this gown to the inaugural of LeRoy Collins on January 4, 1955.


Mrs. Johns attended the inaugural ball in her capacity as wife of the Senate President, Charley Johns. Johns had been acting governor until the election of LeRoy Collins in November 1954. Mrs. John's gown is an ice blue, originally strapless formal. It has iridescent sequins applied to the bodice and the scalloped peplum. The tulle stole is now sewn in.

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Wildlife officers Von Walker and Dick Bryant present Governor-elect LeRoy Collins with a black bass on January 4, 1955. Fishing was a favorite hobby of the Collins family.


LeRoy Collins tries out the governor's chair for the first time on January 4, 1955, as Lt. Joe Cook, his security aide looks on.

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Governor LeRoy Collins and Mary Call Darby Collins dance at their inaugural ball on January 8, 1957.


Mary Call Collins wore this gown in 1957 at festivities celebrating the inauguration of her husband LeRoy Collins as Florida's thirty-third governor. The sleeveless gown was made from magnolia taffeta, trimmed in coffee-colored chantilly lace.

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Julia Burnett Bryant wore this gown at the inaugural ball for her husband, Farris, on January 3, 1961.


On the evening of his inauguration on January 3, 1961, Governor Bryant wore this formal black tail coat and pleated trousers. The style of the 1950s is still evident in the wide pointed lapels of the coat.

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Mildred Carlyon Burns wore this gown to the inauguration of her husband, Haydon, as Florida's thirty-fifth governor on January 5, 1965.


Julia Burnett and Farris Bryant at their inaugural ball on January 3, 1961.

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Governor Claude R. Kirk with his fiancee, Erika Mattfeld, on the right, and his mother, Myrtle McLure Kirk on the left, at the inaugural ball on January 3, 1967.


Donna Lou Harper Askew wore this gown to the first inaugural ball of her husband, Reubin, on January 5, 1971. The dress is currently at the T. T. Wentworth Museum in Pensacola.

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Donna Lou Askew wore this inaugural ball gown and dress coat at festivities celebrating the second inauguration of her husband, Reubin, as Florida's thirty-seventh governor in 1975. The floor-length dress of deep yellow silk features rhinestones, pearl beads, and sequins, all used to trim the collar, sleeves and bodice. The full-length matching coat has two pearl and rhinestone buttons on the front and cuffs trimmed in white rabbit fur. The ensemble was designed by Kristin Skagfield of Tallahassee.


Governor Reubin Askew's seven-year-old son, Kevin, drew a portrait of his father on inauguration day on January 6, 1971. Kevin used the back of an inaugural program; Governor Askew remembers it as a very good impression of that day.

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Governor Askew used this morning suit at his swearing-in ceremony on the morning of January 7, 1975. It has the fashionably wide pointed lapels of the 1970s. The suit is made of charcoal-gray worsted wool and has gray pinstripe trousers, a dove-gray waistcoat of gabardine, and a gray and black silk ascot.


Margie Mixson, wife of the Lieutenant Governor, Wayne Mixson, wore this gown to the first inaugural ball of Governor Bob Graham in 1979. The light gray, floor-length gown features a mock-wraparound bodice and long bell sleeves with feather trim. The gown is a Lilli Diamond of California design. Mixson assumed the governorship of Florida for three days after Bob Graham resigned to assume his seat in the U.S. Senate, and before Bob Martinez was sworn in as the elected governor on January 6, 1987.

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When her husband, Bob Martinez, took the oath of office as governor in 1987, Mary Jane Martinez stood beside him wearing this elegant midnight blue wool ensemble, consisting of a dress, cape, matching beret, and black velvet pumps. The outfit was designed by Guy and George of Palm Beach.


Mary Jane Martinez chose a teal floor-length satin dress with matching pumps to attend husband Bob Martinez's inaugural celebration on January 6, 1987. The dress has a scooped neck and long sleeves with a decorative matching bow at the end. Gray pearls are stitched to the bodice and sleeves. In addition, a tailored satin bow is applied on either side the waistline. The Palm Beach designer of the outfit was Guy and George.

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Instead of a formal ball gown, Governor Chiles' 1991 inaugural festivities featured something for every taste. Music ranged from big band to country to rock'n roll. Participants came dressed in everything from sequins and tuxedos to blue jeans and cowboy boots. Rhea Chiles wore a fuchsia and black printed gown featuring a v-neck, flat pleated collar, and an all-around knife-pleated skirt. The dress is a Diane Freis design.


Mrs. Rhea Chiles wore this evening tunic at the celebration to commemorate her husband's second inauguration in 1995. The mid-calf length tunic is made of black satin and colorful Seminole Indian patchwork. Rows of patchwork are used to accent the collar, sleeves, and body of the tunic. The yoke is made of black satin fabric tucked in a diamond pattern.

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First lady Columba Bush holds the Bible as her husband, Governor Jeb Bush, repeats the oath of office as it is administered by Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Major B. Harding. Former U.S. President George Bush attended his younger son's inauguration. He stands to the left of Chief Justice Harding in this photograph. Near the right of the photograph is Jeb Bush's older brother, George W. Bush, then governor of Texas.


Museum of Florida History staff gathered a program and autographs from many of the dignitaries who attended the swearing-in ceremonies of Florida's forty-third governor, Jeb Bush, on January 5, 1999.

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Columba Garnica Gallo Bush wore this evening ensemble to the Tampa inaugural festivities of her husband on January 4, 1999. The John Galliano jacket was made in Paris, while the ankle-length skirt was designed by William B.