We haven’t calculated the statistics, but anecdotally, we can tell you that of all the document media types we hold photographs are probably one of the most popular types of documents used by researchers here at ASC.
Following along with that, sometimes we get questions about various photographers and photography studios have been active in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. Knowing a little something about the photographer can provide context about the image: at the very least, maybe it can help you narrow down a date range on an undated image.
So we thought it might be helpful to share with you some of our favorite resources on looking up professional and semi-professional photographers. These are “historical” (i.e. not including contemporary or recent photographers) but we hope you’ll find them as useful as we do.
First up, Candace Waugaman’s article from Alaska History volume 17: “Capturing Alaska’s Image: Pre-Statehood Alaskan Photographers.” If you don’t have access to a hard copy of this incredibly useful list in the journal issue (which is available through many libraries in Alaska), it was posted on the Alaska Historical Society’s website for a while and we’ve been able to find it in the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine (click on the red text that says: Special Feature: Alaska’s Photographers).
Next is David Mattison’s Camera Workers: The British Columbia, Alaska, and Yukon Photographic Directory, 1858-1950. A larger geographic focus from one of our Canadian archival colleagues, but a lot of the photographers working in this time frame no doubt overlapped geographically between Canada and Alaska.
Third is the Pacific Northwest Photographers Database hosted by the University of Washington Libraries’ Special Collections. It covers the 1870s to 1935. Again, a little broader geographic focus than Alaska, but still some overlap.
Do you have any favorite tools that help you identify photographers that were active in Alaska? If so, share in the comments below or email us so we can add them to this list. aska & Yukon Photographic Directory, 1858-1950