Sanford: Then and Now

Telling the Story of a Small Town in the Digital Age

Contributed by Callie Henson, History Graduate Student

The community of Sanford, FL began as a small steamboat shipping town and blossomed into one of the most productive celery and citrus cities in Florida from the onset of the 20th century until the 1960s. Sanford’s story is told by photographs in an Arcadia publication, Images of America: Sanford.

This project focuses on the way in which small, once-booming towns, in this case Sanford, FL, use their history to create and maintain their own community narratives. Using a simple digital slider tool called Juxtapose JS and the familiar historical trope “then and now,” the project attempts to reveal how these types of stories can be crafted and altered drastically. The tool also adds a level of interactivity and serves as a dynamic way to compare the photographs, as opposed to a book of printed photos.

The study uses photographs collected from local residents, the Sanford Museum, Sanford City Halland other local sources as historical artifacts and compares them directly with current photographs of the exact same physical places. This study uses photographs from multiple points in a building or location’s history to reveal that the story of that place can radically change. This study employs four different categories to measure these changes and evaluate the variations in the narrative: Dilapidated, Enriched, Maintained, Vanished. Ultimately, it’s the choices of the people who shape the town, both historically and in how they present the narrative.