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Anthony P. "Tony" Pizzo collection

Identifier: MS-1982-01
  • No requestable containers

  • Staff Only

Scope and Contents

Publications, photographs, postcards, cigar labels, maps, realia, manuscripts, diaries, printed ephemera, artifacts, and other materials documenting the history of Tampa, Florida and its vicinity, with particular emphasis on the area’s Cuban, Spanish, and Italian immigrant communities of Ybor City and West Tampa.


  • Created: 1824-1994
  • Other: Date acquired: 10/23/1982


Conditions Governing Access

Some materials are fragile.

Conditions Governing Use

The contents of this collection may be subject to copyright.  Visit the United States Copyright Office’s Website at for more information.

Biographical or Historical Information

The son of Paul and Rosalia (Pizzolato) Pizzo, Antony P. “Tony” Pizzo was born on September 22, 1912 in Ybor City, Tampa’s immigrant cigar making community. While growing up, Tony absorbed the multiethnic cultural ambience of Ybor City and its primarily Cuban, Spanish, and Italian population. A graduate of Hillsborough High School, he attended the University of Florida for two years, then transferred to Stetson University to study law. After two years, he left Stetson to embark on a business career. Following service in the U.S. Army during World War II, Pizzo started his own company, International Brands, a wine and beer distributorship. He subsequently accepted a position with Tampa Wholesale Liquors, which later became Midulla Importing Company and House of Midulla, Inc. From 1950 to his retirement in 1984 Tony Pizzo was the company’s vice president in charge of sales, also serving as president of Midulla affiliates Rey del Mundo Cigar Company (1965-1971) and Fruit Wines of Florida (1972-1984). Pizzo was active in local business, civic, educational, and cultural organizations, including the Tampa General Hospital Foundation, Barrio Latino Commission, University of Tampa Foundation, University of South Florida President’s Council, Ybor City Redevelopment Committee, Tampa Philharmonic Association, and Tampa Bay Business Hall of Fame. He was the founder and first president of the Tampa International Trade Council, first president of the Ybor City Junior Chamber of Commerce, first president of the Rotary Club of Ybor City, and the first honorary mayor (alcalde) of Ybor City. In 1952, the Cuban government awarded Tony Pizzo the Order of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, and in 1976 the government of Italy invested him as a Knight Officer of the Order of Merit. A 1993 Tampa Tribune article commented that no other Tampan had been awarded so many honors for contributions and service to his community. During the early 1950s, Tony Pizzo realized that the colorful, multiethnic Ybor City of his youth was rapidly fading away due to post-World War II demographic and economic changes. He decided to make it his mission to preserve the history of Tampa’s immigrant cigar makers and the community they built. Over time, this mission expanded to include the history of the Tampa and Hillsborough County as a whole. Pursuing his avocation for local history, Pizzo became the most prominent advocate of and spokesman for Tampa’s historic heritage, earning the informal title “Mr. Ybor City.” A prolific writer whose history articles appeared in a range of publications- from Tampa Bay History magazine to the popular press- his first book-length work, Tampa Town, 1886-1834: Cracker Village with a Latin Accent, appeared in 1968. In 1979, Pizzo collaborated with WUSF Television in creating Tony Pizzo’s Tampa, a ten-part documentary that won two awards from the National University Television Association. In 1983, he co-authored a comprehensive history of Tampa and its vicinity, Tampa, the Treasure City, with USF history professor Gary R. Mormino. In 1971, Pizzo founded the Tampa Historical Society and served as its first president. He was chairman of the Hillsborough County Historical Commission from 1968 to 1980, and from 1984 until his death was Hillsborough County’s official historian. As a Tampa native, civic leader, and prominent spokesman for local history, Pizzo was ideally positioned to gather historically significant material. He “knew everyone” and “everyone” knew him. His decades of gathering information about Tampa’s past resulted in a monumental collection of historical materials documenting virtually every aspect of the community’s historical heritage from its origins as a frontier fort to the dynamic, modern metropolis of today. In a letter dated August 11, 1980, Tony Pizzo expressed his intention that the Special Collections Department at the University of South Florida’s Tampa Library be the permanent repository for his unique collection. This intention was realized on October 23, 1982 when USF President John Lott Brown formally accepted the Pizzo Collection during a gala dinner program held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Tampa. Since that time, the Tony Pizzo Collection has become one of the most consulted and referenced resources for historians and other researchers studying Tampa history and culture. As an “open” collection, librarians, historians and researchers regularly contribute to the growth and value of the collection. Tony Pizzo died January 2, 1994 and was buried in the mausoleum at Myrtle Hill Memorial Park in Tampa. He was survived by his wife of fifty-two years, Josephine (Acosta) Pizzo, and two sons, Paul and Anthony. Basse, Craig. “Historian Tony Pizzo Dies.” St. Petersburg Times 4 January 1994, Community Times Tampa Bay and State section: pp. 1, 5B. Cabrera, Cloe. “The Loves of Tony Pizzo.” Tampa Tribune 11 January 1994, University section: 4. DeSormier, Vicki. “Silhouettes: Tony Pizzo.” La Gaceta (November 20, 1987): 18. “Dinner Program in Honor of Tony Pizzo.” Ex Libris: Journal of the USF Library Associates, Summer 1982: 18. Dunn, Hampton. “A Tribute to Tony Pizzo: Hail! The Alcalde: ‘The Little Flower.’” 17th Annual Italian-American Invitational Golf Tournament. Tampa: Italian-American Golf Association, 1994. Edwards, Brian. “Tampa Historian Tony Pizzo Dies at 81.” Tampa Tribune 3 January 1994, Nation/World section: 1. Eastman, Susan. “Historian’s Legacy Will Live in USF collection.” St. Petersburg Times 6 January 1994, Community Times section: 1. Mormino, Gary R., and Anthony P. Pizzo. Tampa: The Treasure City. Tulsa: Continental Heritage Press, 1983. “Pizzo” [obituary]. Tampa Tribune 4 January 1994. “Tony Pizzo made Tampa proud.” Tampa Tribune 4 January 1994, Nation/World Section: 6.

Note written by pec, 2007


141.00 Linear Feet

287 boxes

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

Alphabetically by subject (within series).

Source of Acquisition

Anthony P. Pizzo

Method of Acquisition


Accruals and Additions

The collection was received in installments between 1982 and 1999.

Processing Information

Partially processed.  Arrangement is 92% complete.  Approximately eleven boxes of miscellaneous, non-photographic materials are unprocessed.

Anthony P. "Tony" Pizzo collection
pec, 2007; revised Jean McAllister, 2010
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