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Leah Mary Cox

An amazing Jacksonville photographer discovered



Leah Mary Cox liked to take pictures. She was not schooled in the craft of photography, nor was she motivated by profit.  She was a hat maker and seamstress by trade, and no one (not even her friends and family who populated most of her pictures) would have ever guessed that she would turn out to be one of the most remarkable and prolific photographers in Jacksonville history. Both Leah Mary Cox and her photos are exquisite enigmas.

She lugged her large wooden box camera throughout turn-of-the-century Jacksonville, capturing images on glass negatives that she developed in her own darkroom. Only one of her photos is known to have been published during her lifetime, and she was not credited as the photographer. No records of her thoughts or motives or techniques of photography are known to exist.




<>In 1976, over 4,000 of Leah Mary Cox’s original glass plate negatives were
discovered stacked in the basement of a house on Woodmere Street, a home that she had constructed herself and where she lived until her death in 1953. Ron Masucci, husband of Cox’s grandniece Susan Cox Masucci, was the one who found the negatives and who gradually came to realize their significance. The Masuccis donated this photographic treasure trove to the Jacksonville Historical Society in 2001.

Many of Leah Mary Cox's photos were published for the first time in the Jacksonville Historical Society' book, The Jacksonville Family Album.

Over 60 others were first printed in the 2002 book by Ann Hyman,
Jacksonville Greets the Twentieth Century – The Pictorial Legacy of Leah Mary Cox.


Both books are available from the Jacksonville Historical Society's online bookstore
.



Reprints of all of Leah Mary Cox's photographs are available from the Jacksonville Historical Society's Archives. Click here for more information.

Below are just a few of these extraordinary images of Jacksonville over a century ago:


"Sunday Boat Ride on the St. Johns River"


"Girl with an Unbrella"


"The Picnic"


"Dixieland Park at Night"


"The Promenade at Dixieland Park"


"Dixieland Park Dance hall"


"The Floral Parade on Forsyth Street, 1902"


"The Floral Parade Passing the Windsor Hotel, 1902"


"New Homes and Buildings Spring Up one Year after the Great Fire of 1901"


"The McConihe-Drew Building"


"The Ostrich Farm"


"The Dyal-Upchurch Building and Trolley on Bay Street"






Jacksonville Greets the Twentieth Century – 
The Pictorial Legacy of Leah Mary Cox 

A book by Ann Hyman and photo editor Ron Masucci

Click here to read more about this book.



Susan and Ron Masucci Rescue Cox's Photographic Legacy


Long-time Jacksonville Historical Society benefactors Susan and Ron Masucci received the City of Jacksonville’s 2003 Preservation Award for “individual preservation project or service.”  The Masucci’s were recognized for years of time consuming and costly preservation of the Leah Mary Cox Photographic Collection; the award also included the Masucci’s October 2001 donation of the collection to the Historical Society. The generosity and vision of the Masucci’s insures this major body of work is now available to researchers.


Susan and Ron Masucci were honored by the 
City of Jacksonville in 2003  for their contribution 
of the Leah Mary Cox Photo Collection to the 
Jacksonville Historical Society.  The Masucci’s
are shown here as they were honored by 
the Historical Society for their extraordinary gift.











 

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Jacksonville Historical Society
317 A. Philip Randolph Blvd.
Jacksonville, FL 32202-2217
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Emily LisskaExecutive Director
Meghan Powell Office Administrator
Phone: 904-665-0064
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Jacksonville Historical Society  Archives at Old St. Luke’s
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Lauren Swain Mosley, Archivist

Phone: 904-374-0296   Email


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