"Souvenirs of Miami, Florida: 100 Years of Promotional Literature"
An Exhibition in Honor of the City of Miami Centennial, 1896-1996

INTRODUCTION

The City of Miami boasts many attractions and wonders, both natural and man-made, and residents have never been hesitant to sing the praises of their native or adopted home. From Miami's very beginnings, its citizens recognized the importance of attracting new residents; commercial and agricultural interests; local, regional, and international businesses; and, of course, tourists. Never bashful about noting the many advantages of life in the subtropical paradise of South Florida, Miami residents may occasionally be guilty of slight exaggerations in their fervor to promote the beauty and pleasures of life here in "The Magic City."

Promotional literature offers and important and colorful avenue to explore the historical development of Miami and its environs. In the early 1900's, promotional literature often championed the healthful and cathartic value of the Miami climate. As the city grew and related service industries prospered, Miamiís sought to lure an expanded clientele. The boom period of the post World War I era and the boosterism of the early 1920's provided a unique opportunity for enthusiastic writers to sing the praises of life in Miami.

The era of the 1920's produced a number of eye-catching flyers and brochures, captivating pamphlets and bulletins, finely printed keepsakes and tributes, and a wide variety of commercial and government publications designed to document and promote the geographic growth, fiscal development, population expansion, commercial and agricultural advancement, and cultural evolution of greater Miami.

In addition, these booklets and circulars offer a wealth of financial, business, and social information. Ironically, these documents are often as interesting for what they do not say as for the information they do contain. Promotional materials for later decades reflect the evolution of communication in a diverse media society, as the advent of radio and television advertising offered competition for the printed word and image.

The onset of the Great Depression required a slight alteration in the message and the intended audience, but the continual promotion of the greater Miami region did not abate. Similarly, the onset of World War II required a redefinition of Miami's many pleasures, but the rapid economic expansion of the 1950's generated a renewed appetite for information on Miami's increasing residential and commercial opportunities. The social and political unrest of the 1960's and 1970's affected Miami, as it did so many other urban centers, and the promotional literature of the day addressed changing racial, ethnic, and cultural attitudes.

Contemporary promotional materials bridge the time span of one hundred years and present the Miami of the next century. Modern publications reflect the traditional historical factors that first led individuals to settle in this backwater community of the 1890's, as they also portray a modern international metropolitan region positioned to excel in the twenty-first century. How will we view these documents in one hundred years? Perhaps with the same sense of curiosity, nostalgia, sympathy, and inquisitiveness that spurs us to examine the materials presented in this exhibition.

The Special Collections Department of the Otto G. Richter Library is pleased to join the celebration of the City of Miami's Centennial. The Florida Collection contains a wealth of scholarly resources, including original letters, diaries, and writings; photographs, maps, and other visual materials; sound recordings and oral histories; and such traditional material as books, newspapers, and journals.

William E. Brown
Head, Special Collections
Otto G. Richter Library
Coral Gables, Florida

 

This presentation was prepared by William E. Brown, Jr. and Lyn MacCorkle
 

 


Last updated 16 March 1997
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