Leonard Frank Collection: Background Information

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VPL 81056
Packaging olives,

Leonard Frank, March 1939. VPL 14511

Leonard Frank Collection

    The Leonard Frank Collection is the first large photographic collection acquired by the Vancouver Public Library and provides the foundation upon which today's Vancouver Public Library Historic Photograph Collection is built. Frank was active as a photographer between 1910 - 1944. He travelled throughout British Columbia during this period taking photographs of a vast array of subjects thereby providing a detailed record of life in the province. Frank was particularly interested in photographing city scenes: buildings, bridges and waterfront, although he had a passion for nature and took spectacular photographs of mountains and life in the woods.

    View a selection of photographs from the Leonard Frank Collection in This Vancouver or use the Historical Photographs advanced search to view the larger collection.

    About the Photographs

    There are more than seven thousand images in the entire Leonard Frank Collection, which is the largest collection of Frank photographs extant. Images in the collection exist in a variety of formats, including: glass plate negative, film based negative, lantern slide and display print. Subjects covered include: houses, commercial buildings, railroads and bridges, shipping, streetcars, radio and broadcasting industry, airports, travel industry, ferries and lumber industry, to name a few.

    Frank's photographs lend themselves well to an artistic as well as a representational context. For this reason, a wide variety of audiences exists locally, nationally and internationally that will benefit from increased access to this material. Audiences include: architects and city planners, film and television companies, students, teachers, historians, librarians and writers.

    Biography: Leonard Frank

    Leonard Juda Frank
    b. 3 July, 1870, Berne, Germany
    d. 23 February, 1944, Vancouver, Canada

    Son of one of Germany's earliest professional photographers, Leonard Frank was born in Berne, Germany in 1870. In 1892 he was struck with gold fever and emigrated to San Francisco, moving to Alberni on Vancouver Island two years later intending to prospect for gold. Frank never discovered gold, but by chance won a raffle prize of a camera which sparked his lifelong passion. While managing a general store and continuing to prospect, Frank took pictures of the surrounding country until photography became his chosen profession.

    In 1917, Frank moved to Vancouver and quickly became the leading commercial / industrial photographer in the city. Frank 's photographs form a unique document of Vancouver and British Columbia's history between the wars. Whether in woods, shooting the activities of the lumber industry, or on Vancouver's waterfront, recording the contents of warehouses, Frank invariably managed to produce photographs which not only included the required factual information, but also the most exquisite natural light effects. He was frequently commissioned to photograph for both the provincial and federal governments, as well as being the official photographer for the Vancouver Board of Trade. Frank was an associate member of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain, the first in Vancouver to receive the coveted award.

    After Frank's death, his photographic studio was purchased by Otto Landauer. The Jewish Historical Society of Vancouver also owns a proportion of Leonard Frank's photograph Collection. These images will not be scanned by Vancouver Public Library.

    Viewing and Searching the Collection

    View a selection of photographs from the Leonard Frank Collection in This Vancouver or use the Historical Photographs advanced search to view the larger collection.

    Ordering Digital Reproductions

    All photographs in the database are available for purchase, and digital reproductions can be ordered from the Special Collections Department at the Vancouver Public Library. Visit Historical Photograph Collections for more information and to access the online order form.

    Learn more about the Historical Photograph Collection