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A guide to the Carl Christensen photograph collection, circa 1889-1960
P79-093a (SAFR 19543)  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication and Use Rights
  • Processing Note
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Historical or Biographical Note
  • Collection Scope and Content
  • Collection Arrangement
  • Related Materials

  • Title: Carl Christensen photograph collection
    Date: circa 1889-1960
    Date (bulk): 1900-1930
    Collection No. (Catalog No.): P79-093a (SAFR 19543)
    Collector: Christensen, Carl M. (Carl Mobius)
    Physical Description: 496 items.
    Repository: San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Historic Documents Department
    Building E, Fort Mason
    San Francisco, CA 94123
    Abstract: The Carl Christensen photograph collection, circa 1889-1960, bulk 1900-1930, (SAFR 19543, P79-093a) is comprised mainly of steam schooners in Eureka and Humboldt Bay, California. The collection has been processed to the Item level and is open for use.
    Physical Location: San Francisco Maritime NHP, Historic Documents Department
    Language(s): In English.

    Access

    This collection is open for use unless otherwise noted.
    Nitrate negatives are restricted from use. Use-copies can be provided.

    Publication and Use Rights

    Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the researcher's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

    Processing Note

    Item level description was done in 1979. The original order does not appear to have been maintained. At some point the negatives were given Item numbers, possibly in order of their densitometry reading when copy negatives were made from the nitrate negatives (Nitrates #1-23, 31-161 were duplicated and copy negatives and contact interpositives were made). When the collection was processed in 2013, the archivist kept the assigned Item numbers, but intellectually arranged the negatives into file units in an attempt to reunite photographs with similar content and make access easier for researchers. The front matter was also written in 2013.
    Each photographic image has been assigned an Item number; there are often multiple physical forms of each image (e.g. a nitrate negative, a contact interpositive and a copy negative) which has been noted in the physical description field. All photographs are housed by type for preservation purposes.

    There were some numbering problems discovered during processing in January 2013, and the following things have been rectified:

    • -It was discovered that there were two images assigned Item number 012. (PHOENIX (built 1902; steam schooner) docked at Shelter Cove Wharf, with crew members in the foreground on the wharf; EUREKA (built 1864; steam schooner) underway in Eureka, California, starboard broadside view). However during processing, it was revealed that the photograph of PHOENIX was actually another copy of Item 161. So the contact interpositive and copy negative of PHOENIX that had been previously assigned Item number 012 were relabeled as Item 161, and there are now 2 contact interpositives and 2 copy negatives for this image.
    • -Items 024-030 were previously together in an envelope numbered Item 164, but they were renumbered in January 2013 in order to give each photograph its own Item number. (Item numbers 024-030 were previously unused numbers).
    • -Item 162 (ENSIGN (schooner, 4m) at dock, starboard broadside view) was previously numbered as Item 161, but was renumbered as 162 in January 2013.
    • -Items 163 and 164 were previously together in an envelope numbered Item 162, but they were renumbered in January 2013 because Item number 162 was already taken.
    • -Item 169 (The life-saving crew at Bandon, Oregon, on their way out to sea in their surfboat) was previously numbered as 163, but was renumbered as Item 169 in January 2013.
    • - Items 171 and 172 were previously together in an envelope numbered Item 171, but they were renumbered in January 2013 to give each image its own Item number.
    • -Items 174 and 175 were previously together in an envelope numbered Item 172, but they were renumbered in January 2013 to give each image its own Item number.
    • -Item 183 (NORTH BEND (built 1917; steam schooner) at dock, port broadside view) was previously numbered 175, but was renumbered as Item 183 in January 2013.
    • -Item 184 (BLUNTS REEF (built 1904; lightship) of Humboldt County, California, receiving supplies from a supply boat) was previously numbered 169, but was renumbered as Item 184 in January 2013.
    Description Notes: Dates refer to when the original photograph was taken. Many of the negatives in this collection are copies that were made much later than when the original photograph was taken.
    The descriptions in this collection guide were compiled using the best available sources of information. Such sources include the creator's annotations or descriptions, collection accession files, primary and secondary source material and subject matter experts. While every effort was made to provide accurate information, in the event that you find any errors in this guide please contact the reference staff in order for us to evaulate and make corrections to this guide.
    Please cite the title and collection number in any correspondence with our staff.

    Preferred Citation

    [Item description], [Location within collection organization identified by Collection Number/Series Number/File Unit Number/Item Number], P79-093a (SAFR 19543), Carl Christensen photograph collection, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

    Acquisition Information

    SAFR-00001
    GOGA-00789
    This photo collection was donated to the San Francisco Maritime Museum, possibly by Carl Christensen, at an unknown date according to the SFMM photo-archives accession sheet. The photographs were accessioned as the Carl Christensen Collection on May 23, 1979.
    SAFR-00001 is a blanket accession that was transferred from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) to the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park in September 1988. GGNRA had previously acquired the collection from the San Francisco Maritime Museum when it became a unit of the National Park Service in 1977.
    GOGA-00789 was transferred from the J. Porter Shaw Library to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) in February 1985.

    Historical or Biographical Note

    Carl Christensen (1906-1986) lived in Eureka, California for many years, and was a photographer, photograph collector, and a maritime historian specializing in steam schooners of the Pacific Coast.
    Carl Mobius Christensen was born May 28, 1906. He was a native of Humboldt County, California and was born and raised on the Samoa Peninsula near the U.S. Coast Guard Station. Christensen lived in Eureka for many years before moving to Grove City and then to Arroyo Grande. He was a photographer, photograph collector, and a maritime historian specializing in steam schooners of the Pacific Coast. He was a member of the Humboldt County Historical Society and the Humboldt Maritime Museum. Christensen was a member of the Eureka Firefighters Local No. 652 and his father worked for years at the Humboldt Bar life-saving station.
    During the 1930s-1940s, Carl and his brother Art Christensen both piloted the launch MADAKET (ex NELLIE C.), ferrying passengers and freight from Samoa to Eureka. MADAKET was built in Fairhaven in 1909, launched in 1910 and refurbished in 1989. She is the oldest continuously operating passenger vessel in the United States, celebrated her 100th birthday on June 6, 2010, and is the last survivor of seven original ferries that transported mill workers and families around Humboldt Bay. The completion of the Eureka-Samoa bridge in 1971 put the ferry service out of business. Ironically, the second span of the California 255 Samoa Bridge is named in honor of Carl L. Christensen Jr., a democratic District Attorney and Justice in Humboldt County who died in September 1976.
    Carl Christensen was very knowledgeable about steam schooners and corresponded with both Karl Kortum and Harold Huycke, among other maritime historians. In a letter that Harold Huycke wrote to Carl's brother Art in 2004, Huycke says that "upon reflecting on the numerous people I have known who have been very important in the accumulation of the entire steam schooner history, as far as I know, Carl is close to the top of the list of preservers and historians . . . I think it is very important that some space be dedicated to the biographies of those people, like Carl, who did so much in the very earliest years of this research."
    Carl Christensen died on January 6, 1986, in Arroyo Grande, California at the age of 79. He was survived by his wife Frankie B. Christensen, daughter and son-in law Beth and Isam Zamamiri, son David R. Christensen, brothers Arthur E. Christensen and George Christensen, and sister Anna McGrew.
    Written by Amy Croft, December 2011.

    References:

    • -Butler, Edith. 2001. Finding aid for the "Swanlund-Baker Photograph Collection, ca. 1904-1925," Humboldt State University Special Collections, http://cdn.calisphere.org/data/13030/1k/tf6779n81k/files/tf6779n81k.pdf, accessed December 14, 2011
    • -Doran, Bob. 2002. Sam Swanlund interview "Working on his Legacy" in the North Coast Journal, http://www.northcoastjournal.com/091202/cover0912.html, accessed December 14, 2011
    • -Huycke, Harold letter to Art Christensen, November 27, 2004. Harold D. Huycke Collection. San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park (HDC 1600, Series 3.08, File Unit 020)
    • -Upshaw, Deborah. June 1995. "Bay ambassador turns 85," North Coast Journal, http://www.northcoastjournal.com/JUN95/HISTORY.HTM, accessed December 14, 2011
    • -"100 Years of Madaket", Humboldt Bay Maritime Museum, http://humboldtbaymaritimemuseum.com/MADAKEThistory.html, accessed December 13, 2011.
    • -"Carl M. Christensen Obituary." Times-Standard. Eureka, California. 12 January 1986.

    Collection Scope and Content

    The Carl Christensen photograph collection, circa 1889-1960, bulk 1900-1930, (SAFR 19543, P79-093a) is comprised mainly of steam schooners in Eureka and Humboldt Bay, California. The collection has been processed to the Item level and is open for use.
    Contains photographs of steam schooners, passenger vessels, steamships, paddle ferries, and lightships, primarily underway and at dock on the Pacific Coast and unidentified locations. There are also some photographs of shipwrecks and stranded vessels. There are 186 unique photographic images, in 496 physical forms (154 nitrate negatives, 155 contact interpositives, 155 copy negatives, 24 safety negatives, 4 black-and-white photographic prints, 4 black-and-white photographic postcards).
    Vessels include: ANTELOPE (paddle riverboat); BLUNTS REEF (built 1904; lightship); COLUMBIA (steamer); CORONA (steamer); CRICKET (steam schooner); DONBASS III (tanker); FRANCIS H. LEGGETT (built 1903; steam schooner); GEORGE W. ELDER (built 1874; passenger vessel); ORIZABA (merchant vessel); ROANOKE (passenger vessel); SIGNAL (steam schooner); SOUTH COAST (built 1887; steam schooner); STATE OF CALIFORNIA (built 1879; passenger vessel); TYEE (tugboat); VANGUARD (built 1904; steam schooner); VAQUERO (steam schooner); and WILLIAM H. MURPHY (steam schooner). There are also a few photographs of people including: the life saving crew at Bandon, Oregon; master shipbuilder William McDade and his brother "Guff" McDade in the yard office at Hans D. Bendixsen shipyard in Fairhaven, California; Walter Pratt; and other unidentified people.
    Most of the photographs in this collection were taken of other photographic prints and you can often see the background surface that the print was laid on when it was photographed. It seems likely that some of the photographs in this collection can be found in SFMNHP Classified photograph collection. There are also a few photographs in this collection that are copies of images in the Carl Christensen photograph collection (P85-035, SAFR 14390). It is possible that some of the photographs in this collection were taken from the Carl Christensen photograph albums (P78-478a, SAFR 19519) but this has not been verified.
    There are 17 photographs taken by Ray Jerome Baker, who had a photo studio in Eureka from 1904-1910 before he moved to Hawaii with his family. Over the years, Carl Christensen and Lloyd Stine bought Baker's photographs from his time in Humboldt County. The Baker photographs are Items 002-004, 006-008, 011-013, 015-021 and 161. The photographs were taken between 1904 and 1910 in Eureka and Humboldt Bay, California, and show the vessels ANTELOPE (built 1888; paddle riverboat), BRAZIEUX (bark, 3m), CORONA (steamer), EUREKA (built 1864; steam schooner), F.A. KILBURN (built 1904; steam schooner), FRANCIS H. LEGGETT (built 1903; steam schooner), GEORGE W. ELDER (built 1874; passenger vessel), PHOENIX (built 1902; steam schooner), and STATE OF CALIFORNIA (built 1879; passenger vessel).

    Collection Arrangement

    The collection is physically arranged in Item number order (which reflects a numbering scheme imposed by previous SFMNHP staff). The collection has been intellectually arranged into 6 File Units within one Series (Series 1: Vessels and people): File Unit 1: Vessels, A-F; File Unit 2: Vessels, G-L; File Unit 3: Vessels, M-R; File Unit 4: Vessels, S-Z; File Unit 5: Unidentified vessels; File Unit 6: People.

    Related Materials

    Carl Christensen photographs (SAFR 18548, P78-085a)

    • Carl Christensen photograph albums (SAFR 19519, P78-478a) (Previously SCR 09 a-vvv)
    • Carl Christensen photograph collection (SAFR 19543, P79-093a)
    • Carl Christensen photograph collection (SAFR 00311, P83-057a)
    • Carl Christensen photograph collection (SAFR 14390, P85-035)
    Harold Huycke collection (SAFR 22224, HDC 1600), Subseries 12.1.03: Carl Christensen photograph collection, circa 1880s-1965, 2002 (bulk 1934-1955). Contains Carl Christensen photographic prints and negatives of a variety of American and foreign vessels (schooners, steamships, etc.).
    Carl Christensen collection of naval architectural drawings (SAFR 23561, HDC 1202). 56 items.
    • This material is located at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
    Swanlund-Baker Photograph Collection, circa 1904-1925. Special Collections, Humboldt State University, Collection number: F868 H8 S848. The collection primarily contains photographs taken by Ray Jerome Baker, and there are many vessels in the Swanlund-Baker collection that are also in this collection (P79-093a, SAFR 19543). http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf6779n81k

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Steam schooners
    Schooners
    Merchant ships
    Paddle steamers
    Passenger ships
    Coastwise shipping--Pacific Coast (U.S.)
    Lumber trade--Pacific Coast (U.S.)
    Cargo handling
    Shipwrecks--California
    Shipwrecks--Pacific Coast (U.S.)
    Christensen, Carl M. (Carl Mobius)
    Baker, Ray Jerome
    Antelope (paddle riverboat)
    Blunts Reef (built 1904; lightship)
    Columbia (steamer)
    Corona (steamer)
    Cricket (steam schooner)
    Donbass III (tanker)
    Francis H. Leggett (built 1903; steam schooner)
    George W. Elder (built 1874; passenger vessel)
    Orizaba (merchant vessel)
    Roanoke (built 1882; steamship)
    Signal (steam schooner)
    South Coast (built 1887; steam schooner)
    State of California (built 1879; passenger vessel)
    Tyee (tugboat)
    Vanguard (built 1904; steam schooner)
    Vaquero (steam schooner)
    William H. Murphy (steam schooner)
    Humboldt Bay (Calif.)
    Humboldt Bar (Calif.)
    Eureka (Calif.)
    San Francisco Bay (Calif.)--Harbor
    San Francisco Bay (Calif.)
    San Pedro (Los Angeles, Calif.)--Harbor
    Pacific Coast (Calif.)
    Pacific Coast (Or.)
    Harbors--California
    Cellulose nitrate film
    Interpositives
    Black-and-white negatives
    Black-and-white prints (photographs)
    Photographic postcards