Skip to main content

Cornish Studio papers

Call Number: RH MS 1342


Cornish Studio was owned and operated by George B. Cornish from 1905 until his death in 1946. The collection consists of register cards, register books, and order books from 1915-1971 with miscellaneous items from families photographed at Cornish Studio.


  • Creation: 1897-1996 (bulk 1920s-1960s)


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

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

History of Cornish Studio

George Bancroft Cornish was born in 1876 in Galesburg, Knox County, Illinois, the son of James (1837-1920) and Esther (Ewing) (1848-1928) Cornish. He had four siblings, two sisters and two brothers. In 1888, most of the family moved to Arkansas City, Cowley County, Kansas.

Cornish was a protégé of the well-known Western American photographer William Prettyman (1858-1932). George B. Cornish inherited William Prettyman’s studio in Arkansas City, Kansas in 1905. He assisted Prettyman in making photographs of battles on the plains in Kansas and Oklahoma. He preserved the glass plates made by Prettyman, carefully storing them and making copies only when the plates broke. Cornish produced an album from the negatives produced by Prettyman titled “Oklahoma Views, by Prettyman and Cornish.”

Operated by Cornish until his death on January 3, 1946, the photographic studio was located at 125 West Fifth Avenue from 1912 until 1969. Before this location, the studio was founded on the site of the old post-office on Fifth Avenue. This forced George to relocate the entire building further down the block to 125 West Fifth Avenue in 1912. Cornish relied on his sister Alice's help in the early years of owning the studio, but she died unexpectedly in 1916. Cornish's two brothers, Harry and Arthur Cornish, were also photographers elsewhere in the Great Plains and Midwestern United States.

Cornish was an active photographer until 1937. Upon his death in 1946 he bequeathed his studio to Edith Berroth, who had been his assistant. Edith Berroth was born on January 8, 1895. She was employed as an assistant to Cornish in 1912, becoming part owner of the studio upon Cornish’s death. Berroth became proprietor of the building on May 6, 1960 when the sons of Cornish sold the studio building to her.

Berroth operated the studio until her retirement in 1969 at the age of 74. She sold the building to Michael M. Marotta on April 25, 1969. Berroth passed away on November 9, 1989 at the age of 94. Marotta served in the Army during World War II and was honorably discharged in 1945. He moved to Arkansas City after the war and became part owner in the photography studio. Marotta sold the studio building to Otis Morrow and Jean Lough in February, 1979. The building was converted into law offices shortly thereafter.


6.75 Linear Feet (11 boxes + 1 oversize box)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The majority of the collection consists of alphabetized photograph negatives and prints, order books, receipts, and payment ledgers for the Cornish Studio's work from 1915 to 1969. Several items pertain to subjects photographed by George B. Cornish.

Physical Location

RH MS 1342

Physical Location

RH MS 1530

Physical Location

RH MS R366

Physical Location

RH PH 566

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gifts, Otis Morrow and Jean Lough, 1991 and 1993; Kathleen Curless, 2020.

Processing Information

This collection includes posed postcards that depict harmful stereotypes of Native Americans with problematic language in their titles. Spencer processing staff have removed harmful language from the online finding aid and placed any altered titles in [brackets]. Patrons will see the original wording on the post card.


Guide to the Cornish Studio Collection
Cornish Studio Papers
Finding aid prepared by eml, 2014. Finding aid encoded by eml, 2014. Finding aid revised by mhr, 2015; mwh, 2021; cmp, 2022.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Support for the processing of this collection was provided in part by the Ringle Conservation Intern, funded by Stata and David Ringle.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Cornish Studio Collection, RH MS 1342, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries

Repository Details

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

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States