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Nostalgic images for an Old Florida Christmas

Last updated on January 1st, 2022 at 08:50 pm

The photography of Sarasota’s Joseph Janney Steinmetz

It’s hard to imagine Florida before Disney, but these photos by Sarasota photographer Joseph Janney Steinmetz may take you back in time to an Old Florida Christmas.

Steinmetz’ work appeared in many magazines, including the venerable Saturday Evening Post, Life, Look and Time, plus he did commercial photography for the Florida tourism office and the Sarasota-based Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus.

Steinmetz moved his family from Philadelphia to Sarasota in 1941 and photographed life there until his death in 1985.

These images by Steinmetz were donated to the Florida Memory Project, which has digitally archived more than 180,000 photographs from the State Library and Archives of Florida. The photos are now part of the public domain.

The collection is “without question the most significant photographic collection we’ve obtained,” archives supervisor Joanna Norman once told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. “The guy was a master photographer.”


An Old Florida Christmas

Florida Christmas Photo by Joseph Steinmetz via Florida Memory Project
Photo by Joseph Steinmetz via Florida Memory Project
old florida christmas Photo by Joseph Steinmetz via Florida Memory Project
Photo by Joseph Steinmetz via Florida Memory Project
old florida christmas Photo by Joseph Steinmetz via Florida Memory Project
Photo by Joseph Steinmetz via Florida Memory Project
old florida christmas Photo by Joseph Steinmetz via Florida Memory Project
Photo by Joseph Steinmetz via Florida Memory Project;
Santa makes an appearance at the Ringling Bros., Barnum and Baily Circus.Photo by Joseph Steinmetz via Florida Memory Project
Decorated mailbox at Myakka (River State) Park.
Christmas in Sarasota.

Steinmetz Family Christmas Cards

In order to appreciate the Steinmetz family Christmas cards, you have to appreciate photo technology of the time. There were no computers. Instead of images being manipulated in Photoshop, the artistry occurred in the dark room or at the artist’s easel.

Before the days of Photoshop, such a picture could only be made by a darkroom whiz. Photo by Joseph Steinmetz via Florida Memory Project
Before the days of Photoshop, such a picture could only be made by a darkroom whiz. Photo by Joseph Steinmetz via Florida Memory Project
Steinmetz family Christmas card for 1950. (Florida Memory Project)
Steinmetz family Christmas card for 1950. (Florida Memory Project)
Steinmetz family Christmas card for 1934. (Courtesy Florida Memory Project)
Steinmetz family Christmas card for 1942. (Courtesy Florida Memory Project)
Steinmetz family Christmas card for 1937. (Courtesy Florida Memory Project)
A portrait of photographer Joe Steinmetz for LIFE magazine’s “Pictures” column. (Courtesy Florida Memory Project)

More Christmas in Florida from Florida Rambler

Where to celebrate the holidays in Old Florida: Best Christmas light displays

Christmas Gift Ideas for the outdoors

Cut your own Christmas tree at Ocala National Forest

Florida’s 50 Holiday Boat Parades


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

from Florida Rambler!


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IBikeNYC

Sunday 19th of December 2021

Love these! Thank you for the history and for posting them (and all your wonderful posts throughout the year).

Happy Holidays to You and Yours!

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