On August 11, 2014, the Miami Beach City Commission, by resolution and unanimous vote, appointed Miami Beach historian Professor Seth H. Bramson to the post of City Historian and contracted him to write the City’s centennial history.
America’s single most published Florida history book author, Seth’s twenty-two books include two and one-half on the history of Miami Beach. Bramson is very much at home on “the beach,” he having grown up on, lived on, gone to school on and worked on Miami Beach and his love for the city is evident in his writing.
When he contracted with the city to write the centennial history he asked City Manager Jimmy Morales to include a clause stating that he would give talks on the history of the city to service clubs, fraternal organizations, veterans’ organizations, churches, temples and schools at no cost to either the city or the sponsoring organization. In addition to several other events he spoke to Miami Beach High students in Jonathan Nelson’s economics class on January 27th, a talk that Mr. Nelson said “had the kids enthralled from start to finish.”
He is certainly Miami’s foremost and leading historian, and he is the author of more books on, about and dealing with the history of Greater Miami than anyone else in history, with seventeen of his twenty-two books dealing directly with the villages, towns, cities, counties, people and businesses of Miami-Dade County. He is the only person in the country who bears the official title of Company Historian with an American railroad and his book, SPEEDWAY TO SUNSHINE: THE STORY OF THE FLORIDA EAST COAST RAILWAY is the official history of that famous line. In addition to that honor he is the only person in the state who bears the official title of City Historian with a Florida municipality.
His collection of F. E. C. Railway and Florida transportation memorabilia is the largest such collection in the world: it is larger than the state museum’s collection and larger than the Flagler Museum’s collection.
He is the founder and current President of the Miami Memorabilia Collector’s Club and his collection of Miami memorabilia (which includes Miami Beach, of course) and Floridiana is the largest such collection in private hands in America; he is the senior collector of F.E.C. Railway, Florida transportation memorabilia, Miami memorabilia and Floridiana in the country.
A graduate of Miami Beach Senior High as well as Cornell University’s famed School of Hotel Administration, he holds master’s degrees from both St. Thomas University and Florida International University, and he is a sought-after speaker and presenter.
In addition to his books, Seth is the author of more than two hundred articles, including five in refereed or juried publications and he is quoted regularly by Florida newspapers as well as, from time to time, in national magazines, including “Bloomberg Business Week;” “U.S.A. Today;” “Chicago Tribune” and “The New York Times.”
Seth’s family moved to Miami Beach in 1946 and his dad had the sign shop on Fifth Street between Collins and Washington Avenues for many years. He began collecting Miami Beach historical memorabilia in 1957 and he graduated from Miami Beach Senior High in 1962. In 1980 he was given permission to clean out the old City Hall on Washington Avenue and the finds were nothing short of extraordinary. His Beach High yearbooks go back to 1929 while his various Miami Beach documents go back to 1915. The images archive numbers over 12,000 Miami Beach photos, negatives and postcards and the memorabilia collection includes thousands of items including a number of the old white on blue porcelain street signs; booklets, brochures, menus, china, silver, linens, matchbooks and more and as Seth likes to say, “I’m just getting started!”
Seth can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and recommends that everybody on Miami Beach take the time to “check out” the City’s Centennial website at www.miamibeach100.com, taking the time to look at both the “About” and the “History” links which present wonderful overviews of an incredible city’s even more incredible history.