The photograph collections in Rare Books and Manuscripts offer students a strong historical survey of processes and movements, from daguerreotypes to modern digital prints, as well as selections by some of the most recognized names in the medium. Researchers are less likely to know about the less aesthetic and more purely historical collections, such as those documenting life in central Ohio in the early twentieth century, or the experiences of soldiers and researchers outside of Ohio. On this anniversary of the San Francisco earthquake we call your attention to a collection of photographs taken by individuals living in that city, who responded immediately to the devastation around them.
This collection of well over 100 images was created by DeWitt C. Morrill, brother of Mrs. Frank H. Haskett, former University photographer, and son of Harrison D. Morrill, alumni secretary of OSU, whose 1925 funeral was presided over by President William Oxley Thompson.
DeWitt took photographs as he wandered the city immediately after the earthquake, and kept careful notes, which he entitled “Notebook of a Refugee of the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of April 18th, 1906.” He rounded out his historical collection with post cards and additional photographs from the Pillsbury Picture Company, established earlier that year by Arthur C. Pillsbury (perhaps a friend). While many photographs of the San Francisco Earthquake are available at other institutions, the notes taken by D.C. Morrill, and the identifications on the versos of his photographic prints bring an added value to this collection.