Frank S. Matsura came to the United States from Japan in 1905 (perhaps as early as 1902), settling briefly in Seattle before crossing the Cascades to take a job as a handyman at the Elliot Hotel, Conconully, Washington. In 1907 he moved to Okanogan, Washington, and started work as a professional photographer. The following year his studio was built on 2nd Avenue. As the only photographer in the newly incorporated city of Okanogan, Matsura was present to record the development of the city and the surrounding area. He photographed both the profound and minor changes taking place in and around Okanogan; from the construction of the Conconully Dam that provided for the irrigation of thousands of acres of farmland, to the installation of a city street sprinkler in Okanogan to keep the dust settled on downtown dirt streets.
From the photographs in this collection and stories in the local newspaper the Okanogan Independent, it is clear that Frank Matsura was a visible, popular figure in Okanogan. Friends, such as Mathilda Schaller and Orril Gard, appear in dozens of photographs. Matsura took part in civic projects, performed in local minstrel shows, and purchased a small plot of land outfitted with toys for children to play on after school. He had a penchant for clowning around, numerous studio portraits show Matsura with others dressed in strange hats and costumes. In one series of photographs, Judge William Compton Brown's dog, Mickey, wears a hat and poses with a pipe in his mouth. After Matsura's sudden death in 1913 from tuberculosis at the age of 32, it was decided to hold his funeral in the local auditorium to accommodate the large number of mourners who attended.
Searching the Database
Entering search terms in the box located at the top of the page will search across all of the database fields. A select list subject topic is provided below in a drop-down box. Choose a topic from the options and click on the search button to see the results. Two icons (located to the right) allow for predefined searches of photographs of the Conconully Dam and Matsura Self Portraits. Search results are displayed as a series of thumbnail images that may be browsed, both forward and backward. To view the larger image and its corresponding description, double click on the thumbnail. Any highlighted text in the description below each full-size image is searchable; just click. Options to return to the Matsura front page, the MASC front page, the Historical Photographs page and ordering images, are provided along the top banner, as is a choice to return to your search results.
Creating the Database
Laila Miletic-Vejzovic was the Project Manager for this grant. Under the supervision of Trevor Bond, Michael Walpole scanned original photographic prints as 300 dpi TIFF files on a Microteck 9600XL scanner and then added 72 dpi JPEG files to the CONTENT database. Mari Hillestad researched the photographs primarily through carefully reading every issue of theOkanogan Independent published during Matsura's active period 1907-1913 and wrote the image descriptions. Trevor Bond and Michael Walpole contributed additional descriptions and selected subject and genre terms from the Thesaurus for Graphic Materials published by the Library of Congress. Al Cornish provided technical support for CONTENT and aided Joseph Groh and Trevor Bond in the site's design.
The Frank S. Matsura Image Collection was made possible by a grant from the Washington State Library.