Skip to main content

José Luis Avellanal collection

Identifier: MS-1984-01
  • No requestable containers

  • Staff Only

Scope and Contents

The collection reflects the lives and activities of the Avellanals, a prominent pioneering Ybor City family, with the bulk of the collection documenting the life and career of Lt. General José Luis Avellanal y Jimenez. Among the papers in the collection are pamphlets, diaries, ledgers, correspondence, invoices and receipts, contracts, real estate title abstracts, lawsuits (including testimonies), certificates, photographs, corporate minutes, audits, medical reports, patents, stock certificates, newspaper clippings, and a small number of artifacts.


  • Created: 1907-1981


Conditions Governing Access

None.  The contents of this collection may be subject to copyright.  Visit the United States Copyright Office's website at more information.

Biographical or Historical Information

José Luis Avellanal y Jimenez was born on October 3, 1903 to Concepción Jimenez and Dr. José Ramon Avellanal, a prominent Ybor City physician who was also the founder of El Bien Público Clinic. From a very young age, José Luis was a major source of worry to his parents. Among his father's numerous patients  was a neighborhood boy treated for ocular damage after being shot in the eye by the young Avellanal, as well as a child persuaded into testing out one of José Luis' new inventions: an electric chair. As punishment for his mischief, José Luis found himself in solitary confinement, but devised a plan of escape that involved stealing his father's vehicle. Having not yet learned how to drive, his plan of escape was a failure, and he found himself being shipped off to military school in Georgia. José Luis eventually returned to Tampa, but not before getting himself into a scrape in Lebanon, Tennessee, where he was charged with kidnapping a young woman and possession of narcotics. Upon his return to Ybor City, Avellanal took up residence at El Pasaje Hotel, where he conducted experiments in cryogenics and attempted to publish articles on the resurrection of dead bodies. From his El Pasaje Hotel residence, Avellanal also entered the race for state senator, held services as an ordained Baptist minister, practiced medicine as a gynecologist and plastic surgeon (with diplomas obtained during his absence in Cuba), and established Southern University, a college offering degrees (but no courses) to the masses. A trial ensued in which Avellanal defended himself against charges of running a diploma mill, and in 1947, the Southern University Charter was revoked. Avellanal was the creator and founder of numerous organizations, including the Legión de Honor de la República de Cuba (Legion of Honor of the Republic of Cuba), an organization that bestowed honors and awards to worthy individuals such as Fulgencio Batista of Cuba, Chinese Congresswoman Grace Yi Hsu, and Norberto Lopez Avelar, then governor of the Mexican state of Morelos. While in Mexico, Avellanal obtained the title of Lieutenant General and was often seen in full uniform at Ybor City events. In the early 1970s, Avellanal joined the advisory committee for Ybor City's Hillsborough Community College campus and led efforts to save the El Pasaje Hotel building, for which he received a preservation award from U.S. Senator Richard Stone. José Luis Avellanal died in 1982, and remains one of the most colorful characters in Ybor City memory.

Note written by Jean McAllister, 2011


42.44 Linear Feet

95 boxes

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged within series by subject.

Source of Acquisition

Avellanal Family

Method of Acquisition


Related Materials

Jose Ramon Avellanal Collection, USF Libraries - Tampa Special Collections, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL. Prince Alexis N. Gagarin Papers, USF Libraries - Tampa Special Collections, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL.

Related Publications

Avellanal-Jimenez, Jose L. El Pasaje: Building and Its Adjoining Grounds, a Federal National Historic Site, 1888-1977, Tampa, Florida. Tampa, Fla.: s.n, 1977. Print.

Jose Luis Avellanal Collection
Jean McAllister, 2011
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the USF Libraries - Special Collections Repository

4202 East Fowler Ave.
Tampa FL 33620-5400 US