[Alaska, California, and Washington, D.C. 1913-1915]. 157 mounted silver gelatin photographs, including only a handful of professional photographs or real photo postcards, most about 3 x 5 inches, many captioned in white ink. Oblong quarto. Contemporary brown leather photograph album. Edges of front cover and spine ends chipped, moderate rubbing and edge wear. Slight silvering to some photographs, but mostly in nice condition. Very good overall. Item #WRCAM55709
An exceptional photographic record of an early American survey of Alaska. More than two-thirds of the photographs in the album capture the 1913 U.S. Coastal and Geodetic Survey of the Alaska coastline, most of which are captioned. About a dozen photographs emanate from Washington, D.C., presumably in the run-up to the survey. Lastly, about thirty photographs at the end picture various scenes at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. The album opens in Washington, DC, with images of the White House Easter Egg Roll, Woodrow Wilson's Inaugural Parade, the New National Art Museum, images of the USC&GS headquarters, and other landmarks in the nation's capital. The scene swiftly shifts to Alaska, showing the steamer MacArthur well under way. In the portion of the album that contains captions, various members of the expedition are named, such as "Obe" Bond, "Doc" Marks, "Fritz" Engle, Scotty Campbell, and Skinny Leypoldt. Images captured from the ship at sea or on land include Navy Peak at Burnett Inlet; Ketchikan, Alaska from Pennock Island; totem poles in an Indian cemetery on Pennock Island; two shots of the La Perouse Glacier "taken from about a mile off;" and others. In early July, the crew stopped in Seward, where they disembarked for a baseball game and snap a picture of Seward "before the Gov't railroad was built." The crew landed at Seldovia, where they beached themselves for a bottom cleaning of the ship. The expedition proceeds past Wrangell Strait, Augustine Island, Ursus Head, and Cook Inlet to Iniskin Bay, where the crew is pictured "breaking camp" on a rocky beach. The crew next visited Port Graham, where they caught a sixty-five pound king salmon and visited the cannery. The compiler of the album is seen in Port Graham, posing with a small black bear cub; on the same page, he includes a photograph of a large "Topographic sheet of Iniskin Bay & vicinity by H.L." The expedition then continued through Prince William Sound to Swanson Harbor near Juneau. The album includes a nice shot of the Capitol Building at Juneau, along with two photographs of a "Cascade at Swanson Bay." At this point in the album, the captions cease, but the images still emanate from Alaska, often a balance between people posed indoors with outdoor scenes in a variety of Alaskan settings. There are two street scenes, one in Juneau showing the Alaskan Hotel and one in Knik featuring the street outside the "Knik Pool Room." There are also images of an Alaskan woman selling beaded moccasins, a gentleman posed next to the grave of Jefferson Randolph "Soapy" Smith (an American con artist and outlaw shot to death at Juneau Wharf in Skagway in 1898), a real photo postcard showing the "First Camp Arctic Brotherhood Alaska" in Skagway, an aerial view of Ruby City, a view of Resurrection Bay, and the Taku Glacier near Juneau. In the midst of the Alaska scenes are four shots of a tunnel and tracks of the "C.M. & St. P.R.R. in the Rockies." These were likely taken by the compiler at another time, as the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad ran through the American Midwest and Northwest, but did not run as far north as Alaska. The Alaskan scenes are followed by about thirty photographs featuring the architectural wonders of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915. Although the photographs show the MacArthur's crew in official government uniforms, the officers were actually civilians. USC&GS personnel were not formally-commissioned officers until 1917. This was done so that if the crew was captured during World War I while performing hydrographic duties, they would be treated as prisoners of war rather than as spies, and likely executed. Parts of the USC&GS eventually evolved into today's Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), one of the seven United States Uniformed Services. An important and useful collection of early Alaskan images from an unusual source.