Miami’s past comes to life with Herald archives

12/14/2013 5:00 PM

09/28/2014 1:41 AM

We called it the morgue, tucked in the corner of the old Miami Herald newsroom, with row after row of floor-to-ceiling shelves tightly packed with overstuffed yellow envelopes.

Arranged by topic, each envelope contained carefully folded yellowing newspaper clippings and photographs dating back to the 1940s, many still bearing the marks used to crop them for the newspaper.

Every newsroom had a version of this research library, a required first stop for any reporter tackling an assignment. “Have you checked the clips?” was a familiar refrain from editors.

“To me it was always so wonderful to go through the clips,” said Miami Herald Editor Amy Driscoll. “You would pull a file and while you were looking for one thing, you would stumble across something else that was fascinating.”

When the Miami Herald digitized our collection of 1.5 million photographs this year, Driscoll and newsroom Information Director Monika Leal wanted to find a way to showcase Miami’s rich, visual history and share it with our readers.

The result: Flashback Miami — http://flashbackmiamiphotos.com/, a new website that launched last week. Each week on “Throwback Thursday,” Flashback Miami will post a collection of photographs and front pages spotlighting key moments, people and places drawn from our archives.

The idea, Driscoll said, is to give readers a little taste of what it was like to browse the Miami Herald’s rich files. For instance, we’ve retained the original markings on the back of the photographs, which showed when they were printed.

Current posts range from John F. Kennedy’s last visit to Miami days before his assassination to Door’s lead singer Jim Morrison’s infamous 1968 arrest in Miami for exposing himself during a concert. The site is accessible on most platforms, including smartphones and tablets. Beyond nostalgic browsing, our users may purchase photos, order page reprints and license content.

“Journalists often say that we are recording the first draft of history,” Driscoll said. “To me, Flashback Miami tells the story of where we live, where we’ve been and what we’ve gone through. All the echoes of the past reverberate through what we do today.”

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