Wilson M. "Hap" Harper was a noted photo-journalist and nature photographer in Polk County, Florida. Born in Springhope, North Carolina on June 5, 1917, Harper enjoyed several careers before moving to Florida for health reasons in 1957. Among other things, he was a deep sea charter boat captain, a movie theater manager, an author, and a commercial farmer.
Harper became interested in photography in the 1950's and soon became a gifted nature photographer. He opened his own photograph studio in Haines City after his 1957 relocation to Florida. He joined The Lakeland Ledger as a staff photographer in 1961 and brought his talent for outdoor and nature photography to the newspaper's readers.
The photographs in this collection represent a small percentage of those taken by Harper in his long career as free lance photographer and as a photographer for The Ledger, but they especially serve to capture his interest in and love of nature. It appears that most of the photographs in this collection were taken during his 10+ year career with The Ledger, though some predate that era. Although most of the photographs in the collection depict people, places, buildings and events in Lakeland, there also some photographs of the surrounding areas of Polk County.