Claude Matlack Photograph Collection - 1896-1943

Identity elements

Reference code


Name and location of repository

Level of description



Claude Matlack Photograph Collection - 1896-1943


  • 1896-1943 (predominant: 1918-1942) (Creation)


circa 7,300 items

Name of creator

Biographical history

Commercial photographer. Matlack worked in Miami and Miami Beach between 1918 and 1942.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

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.

Matlack kept several logs, which record number, date photographed, and, for about half the entries, brief subject. The photographer's logs are in several original, post-bound binders.

System of arrangement

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.

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

The photographic prints and logs are open for research.

Physical access

Negatives not available due to fragility. Use photographic prints or digital images.

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

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.

Languages of the material

    Scripts of the material

      Language and script notes

      Finding aids

      Acquisition and appraisal elements

      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.

      Immediate source of acquisition


      Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information

      Some of the photographs were said to have been damaged during the 1964 hurricane (the museum, then directly on Biscayne Bay, sustained water damage. This may or may not account for the missing series (they disappeared before 1974).

      Nitrate-base negatives destroyed during the 1970s, to reduce fire hazard. Many of these negatives were copied on direct-duplicate film prior to destruction.

      The photographic prints were removed from acidic albums in 1983-1984. Some of the prints were accidentally torn during the process.


      Related materials elements

      Existence and location of originals

      Existence and location of copies

      Related archival materials

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

      Related descriptions

      Notes element

      General note

      Other Information

      Accession number: 1952-001

      Item-level database available for research in the archives. Digital images are attached to some of the database records.

      Specialized notes

      Alternative identifier(s)

      Description control element

      Rules or conventions

      Sources used

      Archivist's note

      Finding Aid Authors: Finding aid encoded by Rebecca A. Smith on November 09, 2005.

      Archivist's note

      © Copyright 2019 HistoryMiami Archives & Research Center. All rights reserved.

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      Accession area