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

Herman Washington Frank

Herman W. Frank, 1902

Values Codes  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.


Along the way . . .

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, Herman Frank describes the procedure for waiting on a “charge” customer:

[F]irst 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.

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


Los Angeles

In Los Angeles, Herman Frank met Leopold Harris, who was doing business as the The London Clothing Store.

He sold Harris a very large order of merchandise.

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

He 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












Frank also began a relationship with Sarah Harris, Leopold’s daughter. Their 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, as well as President of United Charities, which was the forerunner of the United Fund.


Herman and Sarah had two sons.

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

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










Harris & Frank, 1903, #WS0100

Harris & Frank, 1903, #WS0100


Harris & Frank Department Store, Los Angeles, Vintage Postcard

Harris & Frank Department Store, Los Angeles,
vintage postcard



























  • Norton B. Stern, “Herman Frank and Leopold Harris,” Western States Jewish History 41/3.
  • Herman W. Frank, Scrapbook of a Western Pioneer (Los Angeles: 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 [Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly, 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.]