Biographical Note on Werner Lenggenhager
Werner Lenggenhager (1899-1988) was a Swiss immigrant, a Boeing employee, and a hobby photographer who made it his life's work to create a photographic record of Seattle's architecture, monuments, and scenery. Over the course of his life, Lenggenhager gave nearly 30,000 prints of his photographs to The Seattle Public Library. The Library encouraged him in his photographic efforts, at times paying him for his contributions, and often sending letters of support to locations he was interested in photographing. However, Lenggenhager undertook the majority of his photography at his own personal expense. He visited the World's Fair on weekends, paying his own admission until City Librarian Willard O. Youngs wrote to Century 21 Exposition General Manager Ewen Dingwall on Lenggenhager's behalf, asking for a complimentary pass to the Fair. (The request was granted.)
Smaller collections of Lenggenhager's photographs are also held by the Washington State Archives, the University of Washington Libraries, the Museum of History and Industry, and other institutions. He died in 1988, and for many years The Seattle Public Library's prints were held and preserved by the Library but not made readily accessible. In 2010, his heirs generously donated the copyright of these photos to The Seattle Public Library, making it possible for the Library to digitize and display the photos online. This collection of his photos of the Century 21 Exposition is a small piece of a significant photographic record of Seattle history. As Lenggenhager explained to the Seattle Times in 1955, "Some persons contribute time to charitable causes. My pictures are my small contribution to the city."