Herman W. Frank: Partner of Harris & Frank Department Store

Herman Washington Frank

Herman W. Frank, 1902

Values Code: – I-E-P

Herman W. Frank was third child in a family of ten children.

He was born in Walla Walla, Washington in 1860 and attended Whitman Academy.

At the age of thirteen his father’s store went into bankruptcy, so Herman went to work as an apprentice clerk in a general merchandise store 13 miles away in Weston, Oregon.

In his autobiography he describes the proceedure for waiting on a “charge” customer: first writing each item down on a piece of brown wrapping paper, then writing it again in the daily charge book. After dinner, by candlelight, he would transfer the information into a leather-bound book using a Spencerian pens with a 404 point for the items and a 301 point for the sale price.

Merchandising Career

Growing up, Herman Frank became a traveling salesman for W.& I. Steinhart & Co. of San Francisco, a dry goods wholesaler.

In Los Angeles he met Leopold Harris who was doing business under the name of The London Clothing Store. He sold Harris a very large order of merchandise.

For a number of years, Herman Frank continued to travel the West as a “dummer,” a traveling salesmen.

Harris & Frank Co.

Herman Frank heard that Leopold Harris was looking for a younger partner and wrote to him about the position. He was accepted, but on probation. Herman proved himself an exceptional worker.

Harris & Frank, 1903








Herman Frank also started a relationship with Sarah Harris, Leopold’s daughter. The wedding was held in 1888.

Without any request by Herman, Leopold Harris made his new son-in-law general manager of the business and a partner – a relationship that lasted for twenty-five years.

The store’s name, The London Clothing Company, was changed to Harris & Frank and relocated to new location. Harris & Frank was the first store to feature a “Christmas Effect” with its windows during the holidays.

Herman and Sarah’s other business interests included the Alfred Sloan Winery at Mira Loma.

Mrs. Herman Frank (Sarah)



Herman Frank served as treasurer of Congregation B’nai B’rith (today – Wilshire Boulevard Temple) and participated in the synagogue’s cornerstone-laying ceremony in 1896.


Herman Frank  was also served as President of the Los Angeles Board of Education for 10 years and the United Charities, which was the forerunner of the United Fund.


Herman W. Frank of Harris & Frank Department Store, c 1888

Herman and Sarah had two sons.

Their son Lawrence was a founder of the Jewish Big Brothers Association of Los Angeles in 1916.










Harris & Frank, 1903, #WS0100

Harris & Frank, 1903,


Harris & Frank Department Store, Los Angeles, Vintage Postcard

Harris & Frank Department Store, Los Angeles,
Vintage Postcard












More information can be found in the following issues of Western States Jewish History:

  • Frank, Herman and Leopold Harris; Interview with Lawrence P. Frank; Beverly Hills; 1968; Norton Stern; 41/3


  • Scrapbook of a Western Pioneer, by Herman W. Frank, Times-Mirror Press, 1934.


Jews in the News

   About this Time

Los Angeles Union Paper on Jacoby Brothers — 1894

Jacoby Brothers continue to handle Chinese-made clothing and prison-made shoes. They also advertise in the Chinaman’s great and good friend and advocate, the Times. Workingmen will make no mistake in giving Jacoby Brothers a wide berth. All the same to my friend Otis.


—California Federationist, Los Angeles, September 15, 1894, WSJH, Vol. 10, #4. This newspaper was published under the auspices of the Los Angeles County Council of Labor. The Otis referred to was Harrison Gray Otis, publisher of the Los Angeles Times.