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José Ramón Avellanal collection

Identifier: MS-1984-02
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Scope and Contents

The bulk of the collection documents the life and career of Dr. José Ramon Avellanal, a prominent Ybor City physician and founder of El Bien Publico Clinic. Among the papers are biographical materials, correspondence, patents, estate papers, and documents pertaining to Dr. Avellanal's medical practice, drug store businesses, Public Welfare Company, and other ventures.


  • Created: 1869-1927


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

Born in Spain in 1869, Dr. José Ramon Avellanal was educated in Cuba, where his affluent family owned the San Pablo estate, a vast sugar cane farm that was parcelled and leased to sharecroppers in Matanzas.

In 1901, Avellanal married Concepción Jiménez y Dominguez, merging with one of Havana's elite families. Shortly thereafter, the Avellanals spent a year in Costa Rica, where Avellanal directed his practice against the dreaded yellow fever under government contract. Upon their return to Cuba, the Avellanals found their economic situation deteriorating, and Avellanal sought to practice medicine elsewhere. From his childhood friend, Dr. Ángel Suarez, he learned of the mutual aid societies being mounted in Tampa by struggling cigar workers. These societies offered medical benefits to their members, a promising situation for a young and altruistic physician.

The Avellanals immigrated to Ybor City in 1904 and, within a short time (and some political maneuvering), Dr. Avellanal became the director of the newly-built Centro Español Sanatorium on Bayshore Boulevard. By 1911, Avellanal owned his own medical society and clinic, El Bien Público, which came to employ six physicians and had a membership of over 20,000 at the time of his death in 1927.

Because early Tampa hosted a plethora of economic opportunities for those with little capitol, Avellanal diversified his investments far beyond the field of medicine. Among these were: a cigar factory, Liborio cigar Company, 1916-1919; a loan company, the Public Welfare Company, 1924-1927; a number of drugstores  which later sold his patented medicines, 1911-1927; and of course, being in Florida in the 1920s, numerous real estate investments. In addition to these ventures, from 1916-1921 Avellanal was president of the New York Signal Company in New York City, formed to manufacture and market his turning signal invention for automobiles. Avellanal was also a director of the Latin-American Bank, a co-founder of La Gaceta newspaper, and an impresario responsible for bringing many attractions to Ybor City, including the first opera performed in Florida in 1914.

One must surmise that a man of such breadth would spark a gamut of emotions among his constituents. To the Anglo doctors in the Tampa community, Avellanal was regarded acidly as a practitioner of medicine by contract, which they vehemently opposed. To his business associates, he was a shrewd but honest negotiator. To his only son, José Luis, he represented the stilted values of a more rigid century. To the Latin laborer, he loomed as a respected patriarch who, during their impoverishing cigar strikes, responded with charity for all.

After Avellanal's death, a great number of lawsuits ensued on behalf of, and often against, his estate. The collection, including the estate papers, are important for the detailed history they weave of early Ybor City life, especially its medical societies. They are a virtual Who's Who in Tampa, as his business dealings, and later the lawsuits, involved many significant Tampa citizens.

Note written by written by Sergio A. Salazar, 1984; edited by Jean McAllister, 2011


8.76 Linear Feet

21 boxes

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

Collection is arranged within series by subject and type of material.

Method of Acquisition


Related Materials

Jose Luis 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.

Separated Materials

Alvarez, Gonzalez P. Yerbas Medicinales: Como Curarse Con Plantas. Descripción De 500 Plantas Recomendadas Para Curar Las Principales Enfermedades. Mexico: El Libro Español, 1951. Print. Beato, Bartolome. Elementos De Psicología, Lógica Y Ética: Para Los Alumnos De Segunda Enseñanza. Madrid: E. Cuesta, 1875. Print. Benot, Eduardo. Gramática Francesa: Y Método Para Aprenderla. Cádiz: Verdugo, Morillas, 1864. Print. Casares, y R. A. Manual De Quimica General: Con Aplicacion Á La Industria Y Con Especialidad Á La Agricultura. Madrid: Pablo Calleja, 1873. Print. Garmendia, Miguel. Lecciones Retórica Y Poética Ó De Literatura Preceptiva. Matanzas: Librería y Papelería "La Propaganda", 1888. Print. González, Rucavado C. El Hijo De Un Gamonal (novela Costarricense). San José de Costa Rica: Padrón y Pujol, 1901. Print. Higgins, Edrie. Echoes of Time: A Novel. s.l: s.n, 1944. Print. Iraizoz, Antonio. La Poesia Civil En Cuba. La Habana: talleres graficos "Cuba intelectual", 1928. Print. Lehmann, Bernhard. Gramática Alemana Al Uso De Los Españoles. 2a. Ed. Francfort del Main: s.n., 1876. Print. Lehmann, Bernhard. Clave De La Gramàtica Alemana Y Traducciòn Correcta De Los Ejercicios. Franfort del Mein, 1876. Print. Vallin, y B. A. F. Geometría Para Los Niños: Que Concurren Á Las Escuelas De Primera Enseñanza. Madrid: M. Rivadeneyra, 1872. Print. Vallin, y B. A. F. Principios Y Ejercicios De Aritmética: Para Uso De Los Alumnos De Primer Año. Madrid: Aguado, 1867. Print.

Jose Ramon Avellanal Collection
Sergio A. Salazar, 1984; Jean McAllister, 2011
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Repository Details

Part of the USF Libraries - Special Collections Repository

4202 East Fowler Ave.
Tampa FL 33620-5400 US