Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

The Photographs of Frank C. Morrow, Leavenworth, Kansas

March 3rd, 2020

In 1985, librarian Winnie Lichtenwalter was rummaging around in the basement of the Leavenworth Public Library. She was preparing for the move from the old Carnegie Library to the library’s new building when she discovered several boxes of glass plate negatives. The images depicted the city of Leavenworth, Kansas, at the turn of the twentieth century. Initially no one among the library staff knew anything about the photographs. After conducting some research into the library’s records, they found that Leavenworth resident and amateur photographer Frank C. Morrow was the one who had made them.

Photograph of Frank C. Morrow, circa 1900
Frank C. Morrow, circa 1900. Leavenworth Public Library Collection. Call Number: RH PH 72:125. Click image to enlarge.

Morrow was born in Pickway, Ohio, on May 15, 1867. By 1885, at the age of 18, he was living in Leavenworth, Kansas, where he worked for the Great Western Stove Company. He worked there for fifty years, retiring one year before his death in 1936. His wife, Anne Zipp Morrow, died in 1945. They had one son who was born in 1899 and died in 1923.

Lichtenwalter, knowing that her library could not properly house and care for Morrow’s collection, contacted Nicolette Bromberg, a former photo archivist at Kenneth Spencer Research Library. By their nature, glass plate negatives are very fragile. In addition to the risk of breakage, the delicate chemical emulsion will peel and crack on the glass without proper storage and suitable environmental conditions, and Morrow’s plates were already showing signs of stress. Spencer Research Library houses and cares for several glass plate collections, so acquiring Morrow’s plates was a natural fit. When Bromberg went to the Leavenworth Public Library to pick up the boxes, she searched around the basement a little more and found yet another box of negatives that the staff had missed. In all there are 314 glass negatives.

Following are some examples of Morrow’s work, now known as the Leavenworth Public Library Photograph Collection.

Photograph of the Great Western Stove Company and Leavenworth, circa 1900
A view of the Great Western Stove Company and Leavenworth, circa 1900. Leavenworth Public Library Collection. Call Number: RH PH 72:114. Click image to enlarge.
Photograph of electric streetcar lines on Delaware Street in Leavenworth, circa 1896
Electric streetcar lines on Delaware Street in Leavenworth, circa 1896. Leavenworth Public Library Collection. Call Number: RH PH 72:73. Click image to enlarge.
Photograph of three girls looking at a book, circa 1900
Three girls looking at a book, circa 1900. Leavenworth Public Library Collection. Call Number: RH PH 72:164. Click image to enlarge.
Photograph of the Fort Leavenworth guard mount (1st Regiment of Dragoons), circa 1900
The Fort Leavenworth guard mount (1st Regiment of Dragoons), circa 1900. Leavenworth Public Library Collection. Call Number: RH PH 72:27. Click image to enlarge.
Photograph of a flood on the Missouri River, 1903
Flooding on the Missouri River, 1903. Leavenworth Public Library Collection. Call Number: RH PH 72:48. Click image to enlarge.
Photograph of the 20th Regiment leaving Union Station for the Philippines during the Spanish American War, 1895
The 20th Regiment leaving Union Station for the Philippines during the Spanish American War, 1895. Leavenworth Public Library Collection. Call Number: RH PH 72:210. Click image to enlarge.

Kathy Lafferty
Public Services