Historian Patricia C. Griffin Has Passed Away

I received this notice in my email today.

Dear Members of the St. Augustine Historical Society,

It is with great sadness that I announce the death of Dr. Patricia C. Griffin. Dr. Griffin was always available to assist the Society whenever we called upon her. She was a former president of The St. Augustine Historical Society, one of the very few Research Associates of the Society as voted by the Board of Trustees, and a contributor to El Escribano and The Oldest City. She shared in the academic work of her archaeologist husband, Dr. John Griffin, and her knowledge and love of St. Augustine was her gift to others. Her texts, Mullet on the Beach: The Minorcans of Florida, 1768-1788 (Florida Sand Dollar Books) and The Odyssey of an African Slave by Sitiki, are classics–wonderful examples of weaving anthropological perspective into historic writing.

She will be greatly missed, and we offer our condolences to her family.

Sincerely yours,
Magen Wilson
Executive Director

Patricia Conaway Griffin, Ph.D.
January 30, 1920 – December 31, 2017

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Well known to St. Augustine for her groundbreaking ethnic studies. Dr. Patricia Griffin examined the first twenty years of Florida’s Minorcan community in the 1988 El Escribano: Mullet on the Beach (Later republished in book form by the University Press of Florida.) As early as 1971 African Americans became a major focus with a study of the Frenchtown neighborhood in Tallahassee and later as editor & annotator of The Odyssey of an African Slave by Sitiki. Short articles written for the historical society included: Emerson in St. Augustine and Mary Evans: Woman of Substance as well as the chapter on the Second Spanish Period in The Oldest City: Saga of Survival. She was active with the project to microfilm the Roman Catholic Church records in the Island of Minorca and the historical society published her diary of the 1994 expedition in El Escribano. Dr. Griffin served as President of the historical society in 2003. In 1992 as a tribute to her scholarship, the Board of Trustees made her one of the very few Research Associates of the St. Augustine Historical Society.

Pat was born in San Luis Obispo, California, an old Spanish Franciscan Mission town. She received an AB from University of California (Berkeley) in 1943. In 1945 she completed a Master’s degree in social service administration at the University of Chicago. A Master’s degree in anthropology came in 1977 from the University of Florida. She earned a Doctorate in anthropology from the University of Florida with her dissertation on the impact of tourism of local festivals, specifically St. Augustine. Dr. Griffin spent the majority of her time since 1954 in St. Augustine when her late husband Dr. John Griffin accepted the position Executive Historian of the St. Augustine Historical Society. From 1955 to 1957, she taught history and social studies in St. Johns County high schools. The Griffins were founding members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St. Augustine in 1985. She was on the faculty of Florida State University from 1970 to 1980. She was editor of the Florida Journal of Anthropology in 1975. In the 1980s, she held various positions as an administrator and clinical social worker with the Tri-County Mental Health Services, Inc. The Historical Research Institute at Flagler College inducted her in the 1990s. Pat edited her husband John’s papers into Fifty Years of Southeastern Archaeology: Selected Works of John W. Griffin for the University Press of Florida in 1996. Some of her most recent writings were as an historical and anthropological consultant for archaeological reports on several eastern Florida plantation sites excavated by Ted Payne.

In addition to her career in teaching and social work, she and her late husband John raised five children over the course of their long marriage. Dr. Griffin was an avid runner who held two age records in the Gate River Run in Jacksonville. In 1984 she was a member of the Silver Haired Legislature of Florida. From 1980-1985, Dr. Griffin served on the Board of Directors of the Area Agency on Aging which covers all of northeast Florida plus Flagler & Volusia Counties.

Condolences may be sent to the Griffin family at 901 North Griffin Shores Drive, St. Augustine, Florida 32080.

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