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Photograph Collections


Displaying confiscated liquor in front of City Hall, @1923

The Special Collections unit houses more than 10,000 images in a variety of formats documenting the history and development of Lakeland from the turn of the twentieth century to the present. Included are four series of aerial photographs taken in 1925, 1955, 1969, and 1975. Viewed in sequence, they allow the researcher to see how and in what directions Lakeland has grown over a 50 year period.

The largest and most significant of our collections is the Dan Sanborn Photograph Collection, P720/721. Sanborn was a long time commercial and newspaper photographer who, in 1991, donated to the Lakeland Public Library more than 6000 negatives of photographs he had taken of Lakeland from the 1930's to the 1960's. More than 2000 prints have been made from the negatives that we believe to be most representative of the collection. 

Other major photo collections include the Albert Lodwick Photograph Collection, P700, the Hap Harper Photograph Collection, P800, the Earl Morgan Savage Photograph Collecton, P1000, and the Lakeland Police Department Photograph Collection, P2000 (from which the photo above was taken). The Lodwick Collection documents in photographs Albert Lodwick's lengthy career in the aviation industry and his personal and professional relationship with Howard Hughes. It also complements the Alfred Lodwick Papers, RG2700, housed with our manuscript collections.

The Earl Morgan Savage Photograph Collection houses some of the earliest photographs in the collection of Lakeland's downtown business district. Savage owned a photo shop in a downtown arcade and took dozens of photographs of the streets and businesses around his shop in 1924 and 1925.

Wilson M. "Hap" Harper was another longtime newspaper photographer. He had a keen eye for the people, places, and buildings of Lakeland and Polk County, and his feel for everyday life is reflected in the photos of the Hap Harper Collection. Harper had a particular affinity for the waterfowl populating Lake Morton and there are dozens of photos in the collection documenting the many species of water fowl who call Lake Morton home.

Significant caches of photographs are also housed with larger manuscript collections such as the Norman Riggins Family Papers, RG1000 and the Bernard Family Papers, RG5300

Although not technically photographs, the Lakeland Postcard Collection, RG600, houses more than 900 postcards depicting Lakeland buildings, streets, and sites from the early 20th century to the present. It is an invaluable resource and a significant complement to the photograph collections.

Links to finding aids describing the individual photograph collections can be found in the navigation bar to the left.  Almost all of our photographs are available in a searchable format online at our digital image page.