Alan Bliss: Learning From Our History For A Better Future

Alan Bliss is the CEO of The Jacksonville Historical Society. Prior to his role at this local nonprofit, Alan taught U.S. history at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville through courses involving urban history, maritime history, the Great Depression and the New Deal, Civil Rights, and seminars on public history—all emphasizing Jacksonville. 

I’m inspired as a professional historian by the potential that understanding the past has to make us better citizens in the present and to think about the future.

In the Mix

Charlee Guillaume, a multimedia designer with Mix Theory Studios, interviewed five CEOs in Jacksonville, Florida, who are making a difference in the community. Join us as we discover the non-profit organizations impacting the lives around us for the better. This interview is part of the Nonprofit CEO Segment of In the Mix. Video produced by Charlee Guillaume. 

Alan Bliss has served as CEO of the Jacksonville Historical Society since January 2018.

Alan leads the Jacksonville Historical Society, a nonprofit organization founded on May 3rd, 1929, at the Carling. They began with collecting historical documents, photos, and correspondence of the first one hundred years of Jacksonville. Another hundred years later (Jacksonville’s Bicentennial) and the Jacksonville Historical Society are still adding to and documenting the cultural heritage and richness of Jacksonville’s previous and current citizens. 

We see Jacksonville as a city that has lots of communities, lots of stories, and lots of settings where intriguing events took place. There is no one single Jacksonville story.

In his role, Alan consults widely on preservation and historic resources, and in 2015, he authored a fifty-year history of Jacksonville’s Haskell Company.  This is just one reason that it made sense for the City of Jacksonville to approach the Jacksonville Historical Society to manage the city’s bicentennial celebration on June 11, 2022. Read more about the Bicentennial event and reflections of the past here.

Character actors in 1822 costumes walked the Bicentennial Celebration to illustrate the fashion and demeanor of early city settlers of Jacksonville.

Music is a unifier, and we think that’s a valuable contribution that music history can make to a community like Jacksonville.

Music History Museum Project

The Jacksonville Historical Society headquarters is located next to TIAA Bank Field.

Now that the bicentennial project is over, Alan has his sights set on a new project. Jacksonville Historical Society currently has a music history museum in the works to showcase the many talents of Jacksonville’s history.

Famous artists such as the Almond Brothers, Blind Blake and Southern Rock Bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd that originated in Jacksonville are just the tip of the iceberg, according to the Jacksonville Historical Society. .

The museum will be located in an old casket factory located next to the Jacksonville Historical Society headquarters. Renovation plans for the casket factory were approved in August, 2022. The space will include exhibits, an upgrade archive for the society’s historical artifact preservation, and a venue space. Currently, the society is raising money for renovations. Read more about the project here.

So keep a lookout for news from the Jacksonville Historical Society on the new Jacksonville museum’s grand opening and its upcoming exhibits.

Upcoming Annual Event

Jacksonville’s Historical society also hosts an annual Gingerbread Extravaganza. Its holiday tradition starts on December 8th and showcases gigantic gingerbread houses to benefit the children’s programs of JHS. The event will be held from through December 27th at Old St. Andrew’s Church, 317 A. Philip Randolph Blvd., located across the street from VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.

This year’s exhibit also includes a holiday gift shop and a short tour of the Merrill House Museum. On Sunday, December 11th, the JHS will host Kids Day. Come by the Old St. Andrew’s Church for a photo with Santa Claus, balloon art, face painting, and more!

If you would like to find out more about the Jacksonville Historical Society and how to join, check them out at  and our video on MTSJAX.FM and YouTube channel called In The Mix.