Like many photographers, Leiter's business was creating charming portraits of local citizens that were suitable for framing. But much more importantly to today's historians, Leiter also documented the Lorain of the early 1900s – ship launchings, steel production, buildings, schools, churches, community events – through thousands of real photo postcards. Those postcards are the focus of the book, and with the best of them compiled into one volume, they provide rare, wonderful and unexpected views of Lorain.
The book was the labor of love of five people with the aim of bringing long overdue recognition to Willis Leiter: Albert Doane, Bill Jackson, Paula Shorf, Matthew Weisman and Bruce Leiter Waterhouse, Jr.
|The authors – (top row, from left) Paula Shorf, |
Bruce Leiter Waterhouse, Jr., Matthew Weisman, Bill Jackson;
(seated) Albert Doane
Bill Jackson of Chardon, Ohio, has collected postcards for many years, with an emphasis on those produced by Willis Leiter.
Former Lorainite Paula Shorf of Concord, California is also a longtime collector of Willis Leiter real photo postcards. Paula regularly patrols Ebay in search of rare Leiter treasures to add to her growing archives.
Matthew Weisman of Elyria, Ohio is a longtime collector of Lorain Shipbuilding history and memorabilia. He also presents programs about Lorain Shipbuilding to historical groups.
Bruce Leiter Waterhouse, Jr., is a great-grandson of the photographer. He became interested in his ancestor's postcards when he saw a display of them at an exhibit depicting iron ore shipments on the Great Lakes.
How the book came to be is serendipity at its best.
Paula Shorf had been collecting Leiter real photo postcards since 2001 and had always hoped that he would get recognition for his work. At the same time, Paula and Matthew Weisman had been emailing back and forth about Lorain's shipbuilding industry, and the many Leiter postcards about that topic. A few years later, Bill Jackson – yet another Leiter collector – contacted the Black River Historical Society looking for information about the photographer. The Society put him in touch with Matthew, who introduced him to Paula. Before you knew it, the three were talking about writing a book. They were joined by Bruce Leiter Waterhouse, Jr. and Al Doane – and finally all of the players were onboard to make the book a reality.
The book can be ordered on Amazon and through the Arcadia Publishing website. It will be available locally at the Lorain Historical Society (which is currently closed for the winter).
****As part of the celebration surrounding this book, my blog this week will focus entirely on Willis Leiter – his life, his work and even his former home on East Erie in Lorain. Plus, more about the book!