Seven years in the past, I unwrapped a Christmas present from my spouse, Cathy, that was marked “open to me for the final time.” Inside was essentially the most outstanding shock a historical past hunter may think about.
It was a home made album of 31 pictures, positioned on heavy card inventory. The quilt had a matte window lower out, with a clear web page beneath that mentioned: “My private photographic album of Yukon 1944–45 by Hubert A. Hollingsworth.” The entire thing was held along with a spiral wire binding.
The album suffered minor breakages. There was some smudges and scratches on the quilt, and the corners had been a bit dog-eared. However the photographs within the album had been in good situation, and what fantastic photos they had been.
The photographs had been taken at Whitehorse and different places alongside the Alaska Freeway and Haines Street. There are views of Downtown Whitehorse from numerous angles – throughout the river, overlooking Principal Road, and searching down from the mud cliffs. Some downtown buildings had been chosen for consideration, together with the two-story log skyscraper (the four-story log construction behind it’s not seen), the ’98 Ballroom, and the White Cross Resort. Maybe these locations had some particular which means for Mr. Hollingsworth.
Images taken alongside the Alaska Freeway included views of Lake Kluane and Dezadesh Lakes. There are shipyards and sternwheel riverboats, Miles Canyon (from totally different angles and through totally different seasons) and Whitehorse Fast, amongst others. The Customary Oil Refinery, which was a part of the CANOL venture, in addition to teams of army buildings are proven in different illustrations on the album.
A extra private contact is utilized to a collage of work from the Yukon Winter Carnival in March 1945, whereas one portrait captures the commanding officer of the North West Service Command (a US army company set as much as handle the development of the Alaska Freeway) . The Cannon Challenge and the White Cross and Yukon Route throughout the conflict.)
The standard of the photographs impressed me: sharp, well-made and well-exposed photos. I used to be instantly fascinated by them, and through the years I’ve used a few of them for instance my columns. After I acquired this outstanding present, one of many first issues I did was to do high-resolution scans of all the photographs the album dealt with. And bodily situation was considered one of two points that bothered me for a few years.
The primary subject was that the pages on which the photographs had been positioned had been slowly getting distorted. The archives’ custodian, Rob Ridgen, defined what is going on on. Pictures encompass layers of gelatin coated on a photographic paper assist that adheres fully to a heavy paper mount. Paper and gelatin are moisture-sensitive supplies which have totally different dimensionality responses as they soak up moisture and develop in humid situations and contract in low humidity.
Within the case of the Hollingsworth album, the pictures started to twist because the gelatin layers shrank greater than their paper backing. Sadly, I couldn’t present a humidity degree in my dwelling that met archival requirements that might stop this from occurring.
Earlier this yr, I used to be exhibiting off my assortment to Dennis Ray, a collector of uncommon and wonderful books residing in British Columbia. He famous the extreme curvature of the photographs on this album, and it introduced the problem to note for me. I needed to do one thing.
I contacted Yukon Archives, who’ve the experience to handle this. Would they be fascinated with including this album to their assortment? After reviewing the merchandise, he agreed and instantly positioned the delicate assortment of pictures in storage beneath managed relative humidity. They’ve already seen optimistic outcomes. Within the intervening months, the album’s pages have already rested by 1.5 cm, and they’re anticipated to relaxation additional, although maybe to not return to the unique flattened place.
Workers are educated to deal with delicate gadgets with care and make sure that patrons do the identical. Given this, and the secure environmental situations within the archives, Ridgegen thinks the album should be there in a thousand years.
The second subject was to know extra concerning the photographer. I looked for Whitehorse Star from 1944–1945, however discovered no point out of somebody named Hollingsworth, and the place remained there for a few years.
In the meantime, personal data archivist, Leslie Buchan, assigned an archival assistant the duty of researching this assortment of pictures, and here’s what he discovered.
Whereas Hollingsworth has left no historic footprint within the Yukon (apart from this extraordinary album), he was a outstanding photographer in Edmonton, Alberta. Hollingsworth ran his personal studio, and labored within the studios of different outstanding photographers, and for the Edmonton newspapers, ultimately changing into foreman on the Queen’s Printers till he retired within the Nineteen Seventies.
In World Battle II, he labored as a photographer for the US Military throughout the development of the Alaska Freeway. He was transferred to Whitehorse for the interval 1944–45, and it was then that he took these outstanding pictures. The majority of the Hollingsworth assortment is stored within the Edmonton Metropolis Archives, and I despatched them an inquiry, however sadly there aren’t any pictures of Whitehorse or Yukon in that assortment.
Along with the album, I additionally offered scans of 31 pictures to the Yukon Archives, which I hope researchers and inquisitors will discover helpful sufficient that the unique album will not must be dealt with as typically.
So there you’ve gotten it. I had this excellent assortment of traditionally helpful wartime pictures taken of Whitehorse and the encircling space, nevertheless it was clear that I couldn’t handle them correctly.
A troubling query is why and the way the album break up from the Hollingsworth assortment, which was donated to the Metropolis of Edmonton Archives. The vendor, who now not seems to be in enterprise, was situated in Hope, BC. His description of the album didn’t point out any curvature of the pictures, nor did he specify the place the album got here from. How Hope, an album of pictures taken within the Yukon by a outstanding Edmonton photographer, ended up in BC, stays a thriller.
Personally, I’m glad that this album of outstanding pictures is within the fingers of execs from the Yukon Archives who will make sure that these photos are preserved for a very long time, and that the general public can get pleasure from them too!
Michael Gates is Yukon’s first Story Award winner. His subsequent ebook, “Hollywood within the Klondike”, is due for launch in September. You possibly can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org