The quirkier side of Key West’s history and culture will be the subject for the Key West Art & Historical Society’s upcoming Distinguished Speakers Series talk, “Key West on the Edge: Inventing the Conch Republic” with author and professor Robert Kerstein on January 26.  (Photo Credit: Andy Newman/Newman PR)

“Key West on the Edge: Inventing the Conch Republic” to be next Distinguished Speaker Series talk

January 17, 2023 – (KEY WEST, FL).  On Thursday, January 26, join professor and author Dr. Robert Kerstein as he considers several of Key West’s unique aspects that add to the allure and magnetism of the island as part of the Key West Art & Historical Society’s Distinguished Speaker Series.  His talk entitled, “Key West on the Edge: Inventing the Conch Republic” takes place from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Tropic Cinema, 416 Eaton Street.

Key West lies at the southernmost point of the continental Unites States, ninety miles from Cuba, at Mile Marker 0 on famed U.S. Highway 1.  Famous for six-toed cats in the Hemingway House, Sloppy Joe’s and Captain Tony’s, Jimmy Buffett songs, body paint parade “costumes”, and a brief secession from the Union after which the Conch Republic asked for $1 billion in foreign aid, Key West also lies at the metaphorical edge of our sensibilities.

“Sited on an island only four miles long and two miles wide, Key West has been fishing village, salvage yard, U.S. Navy base, cigar factory hub, hippie haven and gay enclave,” says Cori Convertito, curator for the Society.  “Kerstein’s talk will consider our island’s captivating history and culture, concentrating on some of the more uproarious chapters and characters that border on the implausible.”

The presenter, Robert Kerstein, taught at the University of Tampa from 1977 to 2018 and served as the Hillsborough County Historian from 2004 to 2012.  He is also the author of “Politics and Growth in Twentieth Century Tampa” and “Key West on the Edge: Inventing the Conch Republic”.  His Key West book earned the Florida Historical Society 2012 Charlton Tebeau Award for a general interest book on Florida history.  Copies of the latter will be available for purchase and signing after the lecture.

To reserve your spot at the lecture; visit – $12 for KWAHS members, $15 for non-members.  This program is sponsored in part by the Department of State, Division of Arts and Culture, the Florida Council on Arts and Culture and the State of Florida, with additional support provided by The Helmerich Trust.  For more information, contact Cori Convertito, Ph.D. at 305-295-6616 x507 or  Your Museums.  Your Community.  It takes an Island.

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