Florida Women Who Have Made History: Carita Doggett Corse
Updated: Mar 20
by Ennis Davis. Originally appeared in the The Jaxson.
Born in March 1891 to prominent Jacksonville attorney John Doggett and and Florida history writer Carrie Van Deman, Carita Doggett Corse was a historian and writer in charge of the Works Progress Administration’s (WPA’s) Florida Writers Project during the New Deal era from 1935 to 1942. Her employees included Alton Morris, Stetson Kennedy and Zora Neale Hurston.
Especially interested in the ethnic diversity of Florida, Corse advocated for African-American participation in the WPA’s Writers’ Project to focus on the state’s Black history and culture, making Florida one of only three Southern states to produce narratives from formerly enslaved people. Also an early suffragist, Corse eventually became director of Florida’s chapter of the newly-created Planned Parenthood. Passing in 1978, she was posthumously inducted into the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame in 1997.
Florida Trust Trustee Emerita Dr. Leslee Keys was the author of Carita's story for the Florida Women's Heritage Trail and prepared the documents that enabled Carita's parents’ home, the John Locke Doggett House, to be rescued and take advantage of local, state and federal tax incentives to ensure its preservation. The property is near Memorial Park in the Riverside area of Jacksonville, and its preservation halted high rise condo development in that area. Tax attorney and Florida Trust Past President Thomas K. Purcell and his law partners at the time, Tim Flanagan and John Hay, were also instrumental in saving this important property.
Carita's brother Frank Aristides Doggett, aged 92, returned to his boyhood home to witness the results in 1998, along with his daughter Jean and her husband and Florida Trust founder and Trustee Emeritus Herschel Shepard.