The Alfred Munroe Collection

Photo of Alfred MunroeDuring the late nineteenth century, when the Biscayne Bay region was still a frontier, Alfred Munroe took up photography. He spent his winters in Coconut Grove with his nephew and fellow photographer, Ralph Munroe. Both men shot pictures for their own pleasure of the scenery and people around them. Ralph began shooting in 1883 and Alfred a few years later, perhaps as early as 1886.

Ralph Munroe's photographs survived as a collection, and he is subsequently well known as the Miami area's first photographer, and his images are admired for their lyrical beauty.

Alfred Munroe, though, has been mostly overlooked and forgotten. A few of his photographs survived here and there. Some of the images attributed to Ralph Munroe may actually have been shot by Alfred Munroe. One could not, however, see a collection of his work.

Until now.

During 2010 a sharp-eyed shopper bought a small collection of albumen prints at a yard sale in Concord, Massachusetts--the Munroe family's northern home. He sold the collection at cost to HistoryMiami. Once in the Archives and Research Center, we quickly realized that most of the photographs were stamped on the back with "A. Munroe." Through these photographs, Alfred had just stepped out from the shadows of the past.

These images give us another look at frontier Miami, from a slightly different point of view. Some are identical to Ralph Munroe's images, some are slightly different, and others are completely new.

To browse the collection, click on the topical links in the column to the right. Mouse over the images to make them larger.

Read the collection guide