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William Culver papers

Call Number: RH MS 452


William Culver (1853-1919) was an amateur photographer who settled in Topeka, Kansas, where he opened a hardware store, Culver and Bailey, in 1886. This collection contains correspondence, architectural drawings, photographs, letters, photography paper, maps, and other materials related to Culver's personal and professional interests.


  • 1881 - 1928


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of W. E. Culver

William E. Culver was born in 1853 in Coldwater, Michigan. His father, Captain George Culver, was originally from upstate New York.

By 1883 W.E. had acquired an interest in photography and moved to Topeka, KS. In 1886 he opened a hardware store at 828 Kansas Avenue. At some later point Major M. Bailey, related to Culver by marriage to his sister Louise, joined Culver as a partner in the store, and in 1896 the store moved to 829 Kansas, where it remained until closing in 1924.

On September 3, 1890 Culver married Elizabeth A. Sanford in Arcadia, Wayne County, New York. After their marriage the couple moved to a house at 1213 Western Ave. in Topeka, and there the couple raised three children: Louise, Elizabeth, and Wellington ("Duke").

William E. Culver died April 10, 1919.


14.5 Linear Feet (29 document cases + 4 oversize boxes)

Physical Location

RH MS 452

Physical Location

RH MS R219

Physical Location

RH PH 75

Physical Location

RH PH 75(f)

Custodial History

In 1974, upon the death of Wellington "Duke" Culver, the youngest and last surviving child of William and Elizabeth Culver, his estate was willed to Washburn University. His elder sister Elizabeth's estate also went to Washburn. Their childhood home at 1213 Western Ave. was sold to Dennis Eskie, and the thousands of glass plate negatives and prints found in the home were later given as a gift from Washburn University to the University of Kansas.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Washburn University, 1986.

Guide to the William Culver Collection
William Culver papers
Finding aid prepared by ny, 2007; revised by cl, 2010. Finding aid encoded by ny, 2007. Finding aid revised by mwh, 2018.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in<language encodinganalog="language">English.</language>
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
William Culver papers, Kansas Collection, RH MS 452, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States