Polk County Historical Museum: Part of Bartow’s charm is its position as the history center for a county steeped in a rich, unique and awe-inspiring past. The Polk County History Center is located in one of Florida’s most iconic historic courthouses. There, you will experience Florida’s heritage from Native American life to Cracker culture. Highlights include a completely restored 1908 courtroom, along with exhibits on cattle ranching, citrus and phosphate mining. Children will enjoy viewing fossils in the museum’s strata wall (a rock wall) and a small pioneer house in which to play. Guided tours can be arranged. The museum presents exhibits exploring the first Indian inhabitants, pioneers, political history, industry, early town life, military, law enforcement and tourism, complete with text, photographs and artifacts. You’ll be transported in time to the area’s beginnings from statehood and the Civil War, through the boom times and bust, and on to the present, introducing the pioneers and entrepreneurs who made it happen.
Polk County Genealogical Library: Located in the east wing of The Polk County History Center, the library contains 13,000 books, manuscripts and typescripts, 7,000 microfilms, 18,000 periodicals, 700 maps and 12 cabinets of vertical files. The collection includes city directories, aerial photographs, plat books, tax census, as well as marriage, court, cemetery and Revolutionary and Civil War records, wills, compiled genealogies and rare periodicals. This non-circulating collection provides thousands of annual visitors the opportunity to discover information about their families and the history of Central Florida. The library offers state-of-the-art research opportunities through internet access and rare family history materials. It is also considered one of the finest genealogical libraries in the nation.