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Franklin Stewart Harris lantern slides and negatives

Identifier: MSS P 340 Series 6

Scope and Contents

From the Collection:

Collection includes photographs taken by Harris while on multiple trips around the world and in the western United States between 1910 and 1954.


  • 1910-1954

Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research. Items kept in cold storage; access requires 24 hours advance notice.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from the Franklin Stewart Harris photographs must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical History

From the Collection:

Franklin Stewart Harris (1884-1960) was a professor of agronomy and and university administrator in Utah. He served as president of Brigham Young University from 1921 to 1945, and as president of Utah State Agricultural College 1945 to 1950.

Franklin Stewart Harris was born in Benjamin, Utah on August 29, 1884, and criss-crossed the world many times before his death. His parents, Dennison Emer Harris and Eunice Polly Stewart, were both educators, and Harris's early years were spent in Payson, Utah, where his father was principal of schools. Because they had entered into polygamy, they took their family to the Mormon colonies in Mexico when Harris was six years old. Harris was raised mostly in Colonia Juarez, going through his father's school and helping in the family store and ranching operations. The influence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was strong in the community, and in 1903, at the age of nineteen, he graduated with the first four-year class to graduate from the Church-owned Juarez Stake Academy.

That fall Harris and his older brother set out for Provo, Utah, where they continued their education at Brigham Young Academy, which became Brigham Young University that very year. He received his high school diploma in 1904, returned to the Juarez Stake Academy to teach for a year, and then came back to Provo to do his college work at BYU. It was during this time that he first worked with John A. Widtsoe, who became his mentor and friend for life. He received his bachelor's degree in 1907 and followed Widtsoe, now president of the Agricultural College of Utah (AC), to Logan where he worked as an assistant at the Experiment Station and taught chemistry. On June 18, 1908 he married Frankie Estella Spilsbury of Toquerville, Utah, whom he had met and courted at BYU. Harris's father had moved his family to a ranch in Alberta, Canada, so Harris and Estelle spent a few weeks there on their way to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. For three years Harris worked on a Ph.D. degree in soils with minors in plant physiology and chemistry. He also worked as an assistant in the soil technology lab of the Experiment Station and taught a class in fertilizers and manures. Their first child, Arlene, was born in Ithaca.

Before Harris was even finished with his schooling, Widtsoe offered him a position as professor of agronomy. During the next ten years at the AC, Harris taught courses, did research, served as head of the Department of Agronomy, director of the School of Agricultural Engineering, and director of the Experiment Station. He was a popular teacher and efficient administrator, as well as prolific in his research and his publications. As a part of his work he traveled throughout the state of Utah. During these years he also became involved in many professional organizations and added five more children to his family: Franklin Stewart Jr., Chauncy, Helen, Leah Dorothy, and Mildred.

In 1921 Harris was appointed president of Brigham Young University, where he spent the next twenty-four years. He enjoyed great popularity with both students and faculty and did much to turn the small high school and normal school into a real university. He expanded the school by creating more colleges and departments, buying more land, constructing more buildings, and increasing enrollment by eight hundred percent. He inaugurated the Alpine Summer School at Aspen Grove and Leadership Week which evolved into Education Week. He was able to get BYU accredited by important associations, the culmination being the Association of American Universities in 1928. And he did all this on a shoestring budget.

During his BYU years, Harris's interests were not restricted to BYU. He did a great deal of agricultural consulting both at home and abroad. In 1926-1927 he took a trip around the world, one product of which was over 700 photographs which are now in his collection. In 1929 he headed a commission to Siberia to investigate the possibilities of colonization in that area for Russian Jews. From 1939-1940 he was in Iran, reorganizing their Department of Agriculture. He traveled extensively throughout the country. He also made several trips to Mexico in the 1930's.

In between trips he consulted extensively for Utah Copper Company, American Smelting and Refining Company, the Salt Lake Water Exchange, and Utah Power and Light Company, as well as others. He also found time to serve the community as a Boy Scout executive, an active member of the Provo Chamber of Commerce, and on the Provo Metropolitan Water Board. He was president of the founding board of directors that brought Utah Valley Hospital into being and was instrumental in bringing Geneva Steel to Utah County. These few involvements were only the tip of the iceberg of his professional and community activities.

In 1945 Harris left BYU to become the president of Utah State Agricultural College in Logan. He was there for five years, but took several months in 1946 to serve as chairman of a mission to the Middle East, sponsored by the U.S. Departments of State and Agriculture. The mission gave input on agricultural development and solutions to agricultural problems.

As if he were not busy enough, in 1938 Harris ran on the Republican ticket for United States senator from Utah and in 1948 for governor of Utah. In the Senate campaign he lost in the New Deal Democratic landslide, and he did not make it past the primaries in the campaign for governor. During these years he and Estelle also raised a niece, Nancy Becraft.

After retiring from the presidency of Utah State Agricultural College, in 1950, Harris went on a two-year U.S. State Department mission to Iran, this time as technical director of the Iranian-United States Joint Commission for Rural Improvement. This was in fact the beginning of the Point Four program (a program of U.S. aid to developing countries), which he basically set up in Iran.

His last major consulting project was for Ernest L. Wilkinson in his Indian lands cases, in 1946-1947 and again in 1953-1954.

Early in his life Harris's church activity revolved around Sunday School and Young Men's Mutual Improvement Association work. His main area of church service during his years at BYU was as a member of the Young Men's Mutual Improvement Association General Board, where he served for twenty-three years. He was Teheran Branch President while in Iran the second time, and taught the High Priests Quorum when he returned.

During his life he published six books, several Mutual Improvement Association manuals, and hundreds of professional and popular articles. He was in demand as a public speaker and gave hundreds of addresses.

Incapacitated by a stroke for the last five years of his life, Harris died in Salt Lake City on April 18, 1960 and was buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.


From the Collection: 27 boxes (13.5 linear ft.)

Language of Materials


Other Finding Aids

Item-level inventory available online.

General note

I. Description

As processing began, the lantern slides were tied up in bundles, wrapped in brown paper, and tied with string. Names of countries included were on the brown paper, probably not in Harris’s handwriting. Two or three bundles were in each box in the MSS 340 collection (containers 27-30). This brown paper wrapping was discarded when the slides were cleaned and re-boxed.

Most of the lantern slides were copied from original negatives taken by Harris and a part of this photograph collection. The photograph and the lantern slide are cross referenced to each other in the register. There are some, however, that cannot be matched with an original photograph in this collection. Some of these have identifications printed on the slide, and were probably purchased by Harris. Other slides without an original photograph appear to have been made from illustrations in books or magazines, or possibly from photographs of other men who were on the same trip.

The slides are 3 1/4 x 4 inches (8 1/4 x 10 cm.) but the images are various sizes. Some were cropped to make a more artistic slide, and the slides are sometimes a larger, better, and clearer exposure than the smaller photographs.

The around-the-world slides had a card separating each country group, with an alphabetical symbol for that country on the card. New acid-free cards were made to use as dividers, and the same alphabetical symbol was written on each card as on the original.

II. Arrangement

The slides are arranged in four chronological groups, according to the trip they were taken on: Around-the-world (1926-27), Russia (1929), Mexico (1930-31), and Persia or Iran (1939-40). On the trip around the world, when many countries were visited, Harris arranged the slides alphabetically by country rather than chronologically. He had an alphabetic symbol for each country and numbered the slides within each in an aesthetic, rather than a chronological, arrangement. He often gave talks with lantern slides on return from a trip, and the slides are almost certainly arranged as he wanted to present in these talks.

III. Identification

The identifications on the original photograph and the lantern slide are occasionally in conflict. For example, on the photograph it may say Austria, and on the lantern slide it will say Germany. It has been assumed that the original photograph has the correct identification. On the lantern slide the identification has been given as Harris wrote it, but necessary corrections have been made in brackets. If the identification on the lantern slide is just incomplete, not incorrect, no adjustment has been made. But if the lantern slide identification is more complete than the original photograph identification, the latter has information added in brackets. By the same token, Harris’s spelling has been used in his identifications, but if the processor provided information in brackets, correct standard spelling is used. Put simply, the original photograph identification is the most complete and accurate

Most of the groups of slides were accompanied by a set of cards with the identification written for each lantern slide in the group, and it is from these cards that identifications were taken. These cards have been returned to the manuscript collection. There are no cards for the set of lantern slides of Persia. Instead, the number on the slide is the same number as the corresponding photograph. However, there are many errors in this numbering. Sometimes the correct photograph is many pages away from the assigned number, and sometimes two different lantern slides have been given the same number. The slides have been left in the order as given on the original labels, but the correct number of the real original photograph is given in brackets in the register. The register identification for these Persia slides is taken from the photograph identification.

The name of the country has not been repeated for each slide if the country is obvious from a previous heading. Harris sometimes used the name of the country and sometimes did not.

Some of the slides in the Mexico group have been hand colored and are so described in the identification of each individual slide.

For dates of images for all except the Persia subseries, see the original photograph identification.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections. University Archives Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo UT 84602 US