Historical Museum of Southern Florida

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Table of Contents

Overview of the Collection

Biographical Note

Scope and Contents



Index Terms

Related Material

Administrative Information

Other Finding Aids


Detailed Description of the Collection

1 - Residences in Miami

2 - Residences in Miami Beach

3 - Residences Elsewhere

4 - Apartments in Miami

5 - Apartments in Miami Beach

6 - Apartments Elsewhere

7 - Hotels in Miami

8 - Hotels in Miami Beach

9 - Hotels Elsewhere

10 - Public Buildings

11 - Buildings under Construction

12 - Old Pictures

13 - Development, Construction

14 - Street Views, Parades, Bridges

15 - Public Parks

16 - Churches

17 - Scenery

18 - Commercial

19 - Groups and Individuals

20 - Bathers

21 - [Bathing] Casinoes, Pools, Water Sports

22 - Boats

23 - Race Boats and Regattas

24 - Fishing, Pleasure and Commercial

25 - Polo

26 - Golf Players

27 - Golf Clubs

28 - Schools

29 - Other Sports

30 - Indians

31 - Farming

32 - Dairies

33 - Animals

34 - Air Views, Local

35 - Air Views, not Local

36 - Aviation

38 - Storms

39 - Motion Pictures, Making

40 - Other Cities or Localities

41 - Scouts, Boys and Girls

42 - Outings, Picnics, etc.

43 - Waterways, Dredges

44 - Things and People

45 - Art Objects

49 - Commercial Pictures

50 - Everglades National Park Area

An Inventory of the
Claude C. Matlack Photographs

Overview of the Collection

Repository: Research Center
Historical Museum of Southern Florida
101 West Flagler Street
Miami, FL 33130
Creator: Claude C. Matlack, 1878-1944
Title: Photographs of South Florida
Dates: 1896-1943 (bulk 1918-1942)
Quantity: 12 linear feet (7,287 photographs, 3 log books)
Abstract: The Claude Matlack Collection contains black-and-white photographs of South Florida places, people and events. The views are primarily of places and people in Miami Beach, Miami, Florida Keys, Tamiami Trail, and the Everglades area; and to a lesser extent, of Fort Lauderdale, the Bahamas, and Fort Jefferson. Series include buildings of various types, Seminole Indians, people at beaches, recreational boats and boating, polo, golf, school children, aviation, film making, dredging and construction.
Identification: 1952-001
Language: The records are in English.

Biographical Note

Claude C. Matlack was born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1878. He graduated from DuPont Manual Training School in 1899, and joined the family plumbing and gas lighting business. He and his mother, Minnie Freeman, were avocational photographers.

In 1916 Matlack moved to Miami to work as an electrical engineer. Within three years, he had opened a photographic studio specializing in commercial and portrait photography, and selling cameras and photographic equipment. He opened a branch on Miami Beach in 1923, and thereafter focused much of his work on that city.

He apparently retired in 1940, when he began rearranging his photographs topically, renumbering both prints and negatives, and placing them in albums. He died suddenly four years later, before the project was completed, which explains the inconsistencies in image-numbering and documentation.

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Scope and Contents

The bulk of the collection are 5x7 photographic prints. Views are of places, building exteriors, events and people in Miami, Miami Beach, and South Florida. Examples of topics include: clearing mangroves on Miami Beach and construction of the Overseas Highway; Seminole and Miccosukee Indians, mainly at Musa Isle and along the Tamiami Trail; present-day Everglades National Park, Tamiami Trail and environs, present-day Big Cypress National Preserve, and Ft. Jefferson (Dry Tortugas).

Corresponding negatives exist for most of the photographic prints. 5x7 inch negatives include original safety negatives and direct duplicate negatives made from nitrate-based negatives. 4x5 negaives include original safety negatives, direct duplicate negatives made from nitrate-based negatives, and copy negatives made from the 5x7 prints.

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Arranged numerically (usually also chronologically) in 50 topical series established by the photographer. Prints and corresponding negatives have a two-part number (e.g., 14-1), in which the second number (-1) is the series and the first number (14-) is the item. A 51st series is arranged by a four-digit number, and contains photographs Matlack did not assign to one of the topical series.

Prints and negatives are filed separately.

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Restrictions on Access

The photographic prints and logs are open for research.

Restrictions on Use

Permission from Historical Museum of Southern Florida staff required prior to reproduction of drawings and photographs in a publication. Please contact archives staff for more information.

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Related Material

Matlack's Kentucky photographs were transferred to the University of Louisville photographic archives sometime between 1973 and 1977.

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Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.


Matlack, Claude C.


Overseas Highway (Florida Keys, Fla.) -- Photographs
Tamiami Trail (Fla.) -- Photographs


Everglades (Fla.) -- Photographs
Florida Keys (Fla.) -- Photographs
Miami (Fla.) -- Photographs
Miami Beach (Fla.) -- Photographs
Miami-Dade County (Fla.) -- Photographs


Aeronautics -- Florida -- Miami-Dade County
Agriculture -- Florida -- Photographs
Beaches -- Florida -- Miami-Dade County
Boats and boating -- Florida -- Miami-Dade County
Golf -- Florida -- Miami-Dade County
Hurricane, 1926 -- Photographs
Hurricane, 1935 -- Photographs
Motion picture industry -- Florida -- Miami-Dade County
Polo -- Florida -- Miami Beach
Seminole Indians -- Photographs

Document Types:


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Administrative Information

Custodial History

Mileo Photo Shop, a photographic lab in Coral Gables, acquired the collection after Matlack's death. They gave the collection to the Historical Association of Southern Florida (parent of the Historical Museum of Southern Florida) in 1952.

Preferred Citation

Historical Museum of Southern Florida, Claude Matlack Collection.

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Other Finding Aids

Database index available in the archives.

Matlack kept several logs, which record number, date photographed, and, for about half the entries, brief subject. A photocopy of the topical series log is available in the repository.

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Thomas, Samuel W. Dawn Comes to the Mountains. Louisville, Ky.: George Rogers Clark Press, c1981. Pictorical account of Matlack in Kentucky.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

1 - Residences in Miami Proper and Grounds, 1919-1928
Views of houses in the cities of Miami, Hialeah, and Coral Gables. Miami views include Coconut Grove, Brickell Avenue, Lemon City, Point View, Riverside (Little Havana), and Miramar. 101 photographic prints.
2 - Residences in Miami Beach and Grounds, 1921-1943
Views of houses in the cities of Miami Beach and Golden Beach. Includes Belle Isle, Palm Island, Star Island, Sunset Island, Venetian Island, and, possibly, Fisher Island (Vanderbilt home). Includes homes located on Alton Road, Bay Road, Collins Avenue, Indian Creek, Ocean Drive, Pine Tree Drive, Washington Avenue, and other streets. Includes homes of Carl Fisher, Harvey Firestone, Colonel Henry Greene, and other prominent men. 659 photographic prints.
3 - Residences Elsewhere, 1924-1930
Views of houses and yards in Ft. Lauderdale, Hallandale, St. Augustine, Opa-locka, and Coral Gables. 19 items.

Digital Image

25-3-1 New home with dome, minaret, and carport, Opa-locka, late 1920s
4 - Apartments in Miami Proper, 1920-1928
Exterior views of apartment buildings in the city of Miami, including the Bulmer and Brickell apartments (off Brickell Avenue), Gallett Court, Granada Apartments, and Ft. Dallas Park. 44 items.
5 - Apartments in Miami Beach, 1920-1942
Views of apartment buildings and duplexes in the city of Miami Beach. 126 items.
6 - Apartments Elsewhere, 1923-1926
Views of the Hollywood Beach Hotel (Hollywood, Fla.) and Hotel Montauk (Long Island, New York?). 5 items.
7 - Hotels in Miami Proper, 1919-1936
Views of hotels and hotel grounds in downtown Miami and Miami Springs. Miami hotels includes the Royal Palm Hotel, Bernie, Columbus, Halcyon, Miami Colonial, McAllister, Robert Clay, Roberts, San Carlos, Tamiami, and Urmey. Miami Springs views are labeled Kellogg hotel, which was the Battle Creek Hotel, now called Fair Haven Rest Home. 55 views.
8 - Hotels in Miami Beach, 1920-1942
Mainly views of Miami Beach hotel exteriors, interiors, and grounds. Includes the Lincoln, Flamingo, Wofford, Breakers (North Miami Beach), Nautilus, Haddon, Pancoast, Roney Plaza, King Cole, Fleetwood, Boulevard, Sea Breeze, Blackstone, Floridian, Atlantis, Abbey, and other hotels. Some views are not of hotels: the Flamingo polo grounds (Miami Beach), W.I.O.D. radio station broadcasting towers (Miami Beach), and Ives Dairy (6 views). 332 views.

Digital Image


Children's party at the Nautilus Hotel, Leap Day, February 29, 1924


Playing miniature golf on the grounds of the Nautilus Hotel, March 22, 1924


Roney Plaza Hotel, late 1920s

9 - Hotels Elsewhere, 1923-1930
Views of the Hollywood Beach Hotel (Hollywood, Fla.), the Everglades Club (Palm Beach), and the Boca Raton Club (Boca Raton). 11 views.
10 - Public Buildings, Stores, Theaters, Garages, Clubs, Hospitals, 1913-1935
Views of buildings in Miami Beach, Miami, Coral Gables, Adams Key, and Hollywood. Buildings include automobile dealers, garages, and filling stations; banks; clubs (beach, country, fishing, fraternal, yacht); companies (construction, FPL, Matlack Studios, W.I.O.D. radio station, etc.); city and county government buildings; Miami Beach hospitals; office buildings; recreation (beauty contest, bicycle racing track, dog racing track, tennis court, etc.); restaurants; stores (groceries, department, etc.); and theaters. 327 views.
11 - Buildings under Construction, All Kinds, 1925 and 1932
Views of the Roney Plaza (Miami Beach), Eastman studio and gallery (Miami Beach) and Woolworth Building (Flagler Street, Miami). Prints apparantly destroyed prior to 1974.4 5x7 in. negatives.
12 - Old Pictures: Views of Places, Streets, Buildings, and Events, 1896-1940 (bulk 1896-1920).
Series 12 includes copy work of photos predating Matlack's arrival in Miami, as well as photographs he shot. Views of Miami, Miami Beach, Hialeah, Coral Gables, Dania Beach, St. Augustine, etc. Events include opening of Collins Bridge, confiscation of bootleg liquor, Roosevelt's 1933 trip to Miami, William Jennings Bryan, War of 1898, Palm Fete parade, etc. 269 views.

Digital Image


12th Street (Miami) looking west from the Halcyon Hotel, March 27, 1920.
12th Street has been renamed Flagler Street. The Halcyon Hotel was located at present-day NE 2nd Avenue and Flagler Street.

13 - Development, Construction of All Kinds Except Buildings, 1920-1938
Views of land reclamation (clearing mangroves, dredge-and-fill land creation, etc.), road and bridge construction, etc. Mainly Miami Beach and the Florida Keys (Overseas Highway construction, Key West, Pigeon Key, etc.), but also James Deering estate, Venetian Islands, Holllywood, and Biscayne Point. 388 views.
14 - Street Views, Parades, Bridges, 1919-1943
Views of streets in Miami (Biscayne Boulevard, Brickell Avenue, Flagler Street, Miami Avenue, etc.), Miami Beach (5th Street, 23rd Street, Collins Avenue, Biscayne Avenue, Dade Boulevard, Espanola Way, Flamingo Drive, Lincoln Road, Ocean Drive, Palm Island, and Star Island), Buena Vista, Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, Ft. Lauderdale, Hialeah, Hollywood, Homestead, Magnolia Park, Miramar, Shenandoah). Views of parades include Armistice Days, American Legion, Shriners (1928 convention and other years), and Palm Fete. 261 views.

Digital Image


Ocean Drive, South Beach (Miami Beach), February 26, 1923

15 - Public Parks, Views and City and County Monuments, 1921-1941
Views of Miami Beach parks (Flamingo, Lummus) and statues (Henry Flagler monument, Indian on horse, polo player, Carl Fisher monument). 37 views.
16 - Churches and All [Related] Activities, [Such As] Choirs, etc., 1919-1943
Views of churches in Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, Miami, and Miami Beach, St. Augustine, and one view of a synagogue. Activities include services, Sunday school, social events, etc. Churches include Plymouth Congregational, Gesu Catholic, Central Baptist, Miami Beach Community, Coral Gables Congregational, etc. 150 views.
17 - Scenery, Views General, Sky Lines, River Views, 1920-1942
Scenic views of gardens, natural areas, rivers, plants, etc., and of moods (sunsets, ocean, etc.). Places include Buena Vista, Coconut Grove, Cutler, Ft. Lauderdale, Golden Beach, Miami, Miami Beach, Musa Isle, Opa-locka, Point View, New Smyrna, Ft. Matanzas, and near Savannah (Ga.). Waterways include Arch Creek, Atlantic Ocean, Biscayne Bay, Indian River, Little River, Miami River, and New River. Lighthouses include Cape Florida, Hillsboro, and Jupiter. Views of palms, flowers, 1932 flower show, etc. Views of Charles and James Deering estates, Matheson estate, Royal Palm Hotel grounds, etc. View of Okeechobee City flood, 1928, probably after the 1928 hurricane.Approximately 450 views.

Digital Image


Women in bathing suits, with parasol, beneath coconut palm, Miami Beach, December 31, 1923

18 - Commercial: Auto Wrecks, Machines, Commercial Objects, 1921-1933
Photographs shot for advertising illustrations, insurance claims, etc. Includes views of things (jewelry, auto parts, aerocar moving van and bus, etc.), displays, businesses (FEC Railway sidings, Ft. Lauderdale gas plant, etc.) Views of decorative iron objects or or in homes (gates, doors, window grills, lamps, railings, etc.) Includes views of wrecked autos, transplanting of Royal Palms, etc. 1921-1933. 149 views.
19 - Groups and Individuals, Street Clothing, 1920-1942
Group shots of members of civic groups (Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce, Bath Club, Biscayne Bay Yacht Club, Miami Beach police and firemen, Bank of Bay Biscayne office personnel, Lions Club, etc.). Candid and posed views of prominent residents and visitors (Samuel Gompers, U.S. President Warren Harding, Pancoast/Collins family, Henry Coppinger, Glenn Curtiss, Fritz Kreisler, Ruth Bryan Owen, Jack Dempsey, etc.) Views of people with Christmas trees, acting in play, etc. 258 views.
20 - Bathers and Groups, 1920-1935
Men, women and children in bathing suits and at the beach (Miami Beach). Includes views of Roman Pools, lifeguards, and some prominent individuals (Al Smith, Jack Dempsey, Glenn Curtiss, Jackie Ott, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Fisher). 179 views.

Digital Image

151-20 Tea time, Miami Beach, October 15, 1927
21 - [Bathing] Casinoes, Pools, Water Sports, Aqua Planing, 1919-1936
Views of bathing casinoes (Roman Pools, Cook's, Hardie's, Smith's, Deauville, Sunny Isles, Opa-locka pool), beach sports (swimming, diving, water polo, aqua-planing), Views of Palm Fete, beauty pageants, lifeguards, Christmas day at the beach (1921, 1926), and a Miami Beach high school class. Beach scenes at Lummus Park and South Beach. 330 views.
No gambling casinoes are in this series.
22 - Boats, Slips, Docks, Boat Slipping, 1919-1942 (bulk 1919-1927)
Views of passenger ships, yachts, sailboats, wooden speed boats, houseboats, gondolas, and the Miami Beach ferry. Other views include Miami and Miami Beach docks, Government Cut dredging and jetty construction, boat launchings, and U.S. President Warren Harding onboard a boat. 87 views.
23 - Race Boats and Regattas, 1919-1933
Views of regattas and boat races, mainly in Biscayne Bay. Most races are of outboard motor speed boats, but sailboat, gondola, and rowboat races are also included. Views of Glenn Curtiss' invention, a boat propelled by an airplane motor (probably the first airboat), and of Gar Wood. 207 views.
24 - Fishing, Pleasure and Commercial, Fish, 1910s-1939
Views of sports fishing catches (sailfish, billfish, sharks, etc.), fishermen and fisherwomen, and charter boat docks (Miami Beach Rod and Reel Club, Baker's Haulover, Bimini). Some views show crayfish and stone crab hunting at low tide, seining, leaping tarpon, a captured Killer Whale (dead), and the capture of a manatee (alive) for the Miami Beach Aquarium. Fishermen include Alexander Ott and Charles Thompson. 1910s-1939. Matlack's original album for this series was destroyed before 1974, for an unknown reason. 30 views.
25 - Polo and Around Grounds, 1920-1928
Views of polo players, matches and grounds on Miami Beach. Players include John Herty, Harvey Firestone and Carl Grahm Fisher; teams include the Cuban army polo team. Views of statues of polo players, by Pellegatta. 140 views.
26 - Golf Players and Individuals, 1922-1929
Amateur and professional players include Gene Sarazen, N. B. Roney, George Cox, Bobby Jones, and Al Smith. 25 views.
27 - Golf Clubs and Grounds, General Views and Tournaments, 1919-1941
Views of golf courses and tournaments in Miami Beach, Miami and Hollywood; Jack Dempsey; and one of Carl Fisher's elephants as a caddy. 122 views.
28 - Schools and All [Related] Activities, 1919-1934
Public and private schools, students, teachers, student activities and sports, kindergarten through high school. Schools include Cushman, Pelican Kindergarten, Hialeah, Miami Shores, Ida M. Fisher, Miami High, Miami Beach High, Cobum (Miami Beach), Redland, Montmere (Miami Beach), Riverside, Lemon City, Highland Park, Homestead, Northside, Allapattah, and Davie. 227 views.
29 - Other Sports, Dog and Horse Races, Baseball, Jai Alai, Tennis, etc., 1920-1940
Amateur sports include skeet shooting, tennis, baseball, and basketball. Professional sports include Babe Ruth in an exhibition ball game, the Stribling-Dempsey boxing match, and the 1926 automobile race at Fulford. Parimutual sports include dog racing, Jai Alai, and horse racing (Hialeah Park). 54 views.
30 - Indians, 1920-1932
Seminole and Miccosukee Indians, mainly at Musa Isle and Coppingers (tourist camps on the Miami River) and along Tamiami Trail. Views include dugout canoes, studio portraits, fishing, parades, alligators and alligator wrestling, cooking, sewing, villages, and the 1927 Back to the Land publicity event. About 225 views.

Digital Image


Woman poling past billboard advertising sale of reclaimed land, March 27, 1920


Seminole woman, March 27, 1920


Henry Coppinger, inventor of alligator wrestling, wrestling an alligator, January 28, 1921

90-30 Men and children, probably at Musa Isle, on the Miami River, December 11, 1923
31 - Farming, Groves, Gardens, Tractors, Implements, Products, 1920-1941
Views relating to agriculture in Davie, Pennsuco, Clewiston, Florida City, Homestead, Allapattah, etc. Miami Beach Garden Club. 1920-1941. 108 views.
The series originally contained 418 views. Most of these original prints and negatives no longer existed by 1974.
32 - Dairies and Products, All Kinds of Livestock, Poultry, 1919-1942
Mainly views of dairies and cattle. Dairies include the Curtiss Bright Ranch (Hialeah), White Belt Dairy, Milam Dairy, Southern Dairies, and dairies in Miami Beach, Florida City, and Kendall. Some views of dairy products (milk, butter, etc.). Other farm animals include goats, hogs, and game cocks. 135 views.
33 - Animals: Pets, Birds, Elephants, Dogs, Monkeys, etc., 1920-1929
Most views are of Rosie and Baby Carl, Carl Fisher's elephants. Other views depict dogs, parrots, pigeons, and a bear. 69 views.

Digital Image


One of Carl Fisher's elephants, Miami Beach, April 21, 1924

34 - Air Views, Local, Also from Tall Buildings, 1919-1936
Aerial views of places in Miami-Dade County, including Miami Beach, Miami, Hialeah, and Opa-locka. Some shots of airplanes and airplane wrecks during or just after World War I. About 310 views.
35 - Air Views, not Local (Except Everglades National Park Area), 1923-1931
Aerial Views of Sunny Isles, Bimini (Bahamas), and Ft. Myers. 30 views.
36 - Aviation, Aviators, Planes, All War Pictures, Soldiers, Sailors, 1918?-1939
Military views include Dinner Key, Marine training field, and aviators during or just after World War I; airplane wrecks; naval ships and sailors; and victory parade. Civilian aeronautical views include Pan Am, Eastern, air mail flights, air shows, flying boats, and airships. About 350 views.
37 -- Factories and Products
38 - Storm Pictures, 1919-1935
Shots of damage after hurricanes. Most are of Miami Beach and Miami after the 1926 hurricane. Some are of the middle Keys after the 1935 hurricane. A few are of Miami and Goulds after the 1919 storm. About 250 views.

Digital Image


Hurricane damage, Goulds (South Dade), September 1919

39 - Motion Pictures, Making, 1921-1922
Feature film making on Miami Beach and in Miami: sets, actors, actresses, cameramen, etc. 51 views.
40 - Trips to Other Cities or Localities, 1921-1936
Views of the Florida Keys, Bahamas (Nassau, Bimini, and Cat Cay), and the Ringling Museum (Sarasota). 216 views.
41 - Scouts, Boys and Girls and Similar, 1919-1922
Views of clubs: Boy Scouts, Lions Club, Three-Score-and-Ten Club, and Miami Rifle and Revolver Club. No views of Girl Scouts. 27 views.
42 - Outings, Picnics, etc., 1919-1930
Picnics and parties, including Matheson's chowder party (i.e., Biscayne BayYacht Club), Angler's picnic at Soldier Key, Committee of 100 picnic at Cocolobo Key, child's birthday party hosted by Al Capone, and Rod and Reel Club event at Sunny Isles. 28 views.
43 - Waterways, Canals (not scenic value), Dredges, Dredging, 1919-1928
Miami-Dade and Broward counties rivers (Miami River, New River), canals (Miami Canal, New River Canal, Collins Canal, Comfort Canal), Pancoast Lake, County Causeway, and Al Capone property. 89 views.
44 - Things and People, Prints cannot be sold, 1919-1943
Mainly copy work. Includes series of baby pictures of Miami residents who were prominent during the 1920s. 41 views.
45 - Copies of Art Objects that we may sell, 1921-1928
Views of people dressed as Greek gods, goddesses, and mythological beings; people dressed as characters from Tennyson's Idylls of the King (e.g., Lady of Shalott); and copy work of maps, paintings, drawings, etc. 1921-1928. 70 views.
46 - Dancing Classes and Individuals, and All Professional Acts and Actors,
47 - Surgical and Medical, X-rays,
48 - Portraits and Garden Pictures of Individuals,
49 - Commercial Pictures that are for temporary use,
Mainly views of businesses, including Sears tent, Flagler Kennel Club, Howells Auto, FPL, Matlack's studio, Tip Top Grocery, and Esquire Bar. Some photographs of objects, such as jewelry, an exercise machine, and Dixie sportsware. 1936-1940. About 35 views.
50 - Everglades National Park Area and All Kinds of Pictures in Area, 1920-1939
Views of present-day Everglades National Park and environs, Tamiami Trail and environs, Big Cypress National Preserve, and Ft. Jefferson (Dry Tortugas). Includes scenery, structures, wildlife, people, etc. Approximately 425 views.

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