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A guide to the Carl Christensen photograph collection, circa 1869-1973
P85-035 (SAFR 14390)  
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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 1869-1973
    Date (bulk): 1920-1951
    Identifier/Call Number: P85-035 (SAFR 14390)
    Creator: Christensen, Carl M. (Carl Mobius)
    Physical Description: 1122 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 1869-1973, bulk 1920-1951, (SAFR 14390, P85-035) is comprised mainly of photographs of steam schooners, tugboats, freighters and passenger vessels in Northern California waters. 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 by ML in 1985. 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 contact interpositives and copy negatives were made from the nitrate negatives. When processed in 2013, the Archivist kept the assigned Item numbers, but intellectually arranged the negatives into Series and File Units in an attempt to reunite photographs that had been taken on the same day, were of the same vessel, and/or had similar content. Because the Items are intellectually arranged, one Item can sometimes be found in several File Units within Series 1 (Vessels), when multiple vessels are shown in one photograph. 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. Items are numbered 0001-0065A, 0065B-0484.
    Many of the negatives in this collection correspond to prints in the Carl Christensen photograph albums in P78-478a (SAFR 19519). It has not been confirmed whether all of the negatives in this collection have a corresponding print in the albums in P78-478a. It is very likely that the museum acquired the negatives and albums from Carl at the same time (see SFMM Accession Ledger 448/18).
    The 1985 accession form notes that "photographer is assumed to be Carl Christensen unless otherwise indicated" but this is not accurate. Carl collected photographs from many sources and it cannot be assumed that he took most of these photographs. It is likely that he took many photographs in this collection, but which photographs he took cannot be confirmed.
    The accession form notes that the collection originally contained 299 nitrate negatives. SAFR staff made contact interpositives and copy negatives from most of the nitrate negatives around 1985. A note in the collection file indicated that 4 nitrate negatives were destroyed in the 1980s. In 2013, the Processing Archivist discovered that some nitrate negatives had erroneously been identified as safety negatives; this error was rectified and the nitrate negatives were digitized for access and housed in nitrate storage. As of January 2013, there were 300 nitrate negatives found for this collection.

    As of January 2013, the following Item numbers are missing nitrate negatives, according to the initial accession sheet and previous processing descriptions. It is possible that these nitrate negatives were disposed of in the 1980s and the collection descriptions were not updated:

    • 058 Santa Fe (tugboat) at dock in San Francisco, California, bow view, undated.
    • 098 Oregon (schooner, 3m) underway in Prosper, Oregon, view off starboard bow, 1905.
    • 107 Amazon (barkentine) underway, view off starboard bow, circa 1902-1925.
    • 163 James S. Higgins (built 1903; steam schooner) at anchor, broadside view, 1903-1917.
    • 201 Antelope (paddle ferry) underway in Humboldt Bay, California, stern view, circa 1948-1951.
    • 202 Antelope (paddle ferry) underway in Humboldt Bay, California, view off port quarter, circa 1948-1951.
    • 283 Mauna Kea (passenger vessel) underway in Honolulu, Hawaii, view off starboard quarter, circa 1908-1938.
    • 473 Klamath (built 1909; steam schooner) under construction at the Hans D. Bendixsen Shipyard in Fairhaven, California, bow view, 1909.
    • 474 Klamath (built 1909; steam schooner) under construction at the Hans D. Bendixsen Shipyard in Fairhaven, California, view off port bow, 1909.
    • 477 Klamath (built 1909; steam schooner) under construction at the Hans D. Bendixsen Shipyard in Fairhaven, California, view off port bow, 1909.
    • 479 Klamath (built 1909; steam schooner) under construction at the Hans D. Bendixsen Shipyard in Fairhaven, California, bow view, 1909.
    The Processing Archivist was unable to find any physical Items for Item number 0355. This was listed on the initial accession sheet, which is where the description comes from. This photograph has been noted as missing as of January 2013: Item 355: Cape Horn (freighter) underway, view off port quarter. There was supposed to be 1 nitrate negative and 1 safety film negative, but neither of these could be found in January 2013.
    As of January 2013, the following Item is missing a physical form of the image, according to the initial accession sheet and previous processing descriptions: Item 435: Crescent City (built 1906; steam schooner), Nehalem (steam schooner), Daisy Gadsby (built 1911; steam schooner) and Svea (built 1906; steam schooner) in Aberdeen, Washington, circa 1910-1917. (missing 1 print, 5 x 7 in.)

    During processing in January 2013, it was discovered that several photographs had been previously misidentified:

    • -P85-035.295B (MIACOMET) was misidentified, and was in fact actually P85-035.157. P85-035.157 had been missing, so the error was fixed and 157 was refilled where it belonged. Consequently, there was only one photograph with the Item number 295, so 295A was renumbered as 295.
    • -P85-035.344B (COLUMBUS) was misidentified, and was in fact actually P85-035.266. P85-035.266 had been missing, so the error was fixed and 266 was refilled where it belonged. Consequently, there was only one photograph with the Item number 344, so 344A was renumbered as 344.
    • -Items 302-306, and 412 were misidentified as safety negatives. They were in fact nitrate negatives, so they were digitized and moved to nitrate storage. These Items do not have any contact interpositives or copy negatives.
    Description Notes: Dates refer to when the original photograph was taken. Some of the photographs 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], P85-035 (SAFR 14390), Carl Christensen photograph collection, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

    Acquisition Information

    SAFR-00001
    GOGA-00735
    SAFR-00001, GOGA-00735: Carl Christensen gave these photographs to the San Francisco Maritime Museum, but the exact date is unknown. It is very likely that the museum acquired these negatives on September 4, 1975 (see SFMM Accession Ledger 448/18), because many of the negatives in this collection (P85-035) match the prints in the albums that Christensen sold to the museum on September 4, 1975 (P78-478a), and that sale also included negatives.
    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-00735 was transferred from the San Francisco Maritime Museum Association to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) in October 1984.

    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, California 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 often frequented Sam Swanlund's photography shop "Swanlund's Camera" in Eureka, California, where he would have prints made and would sell photographs to Swanlund. In an interview in 2002, Swanlund recalled that Carl Christensen and Lloyd Stine met Ray Jerome Baker (also known as R.J. Baker) who had a photo studio in Eureka from 1904-1910 before he moved to Hawaii with his family. Over the years, Christensen and Stine bought Baker's photographs (about 1400 glass plate negatives) from his time in Humboldt County. Carl and Lloyd would often come into Swanlund's shop to have contact sheets made from glass plate negatives they had purchased from Baker, and in the late 1960s Sam Swanlund purchased several hundred of those negatives from Christensen and Stine. In the 1970s, Peter Palmquist purchased other Baker photographs from Christensen. Swanlund donated all of his Baker photographs to Humboldt State University. Palmquist donated some Baker photographs to Humboldt State University and others to the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University.
    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 1869-1973, bulk 1920-1951, (SAFR 14390, P85-035) is comprised mainly of photographs of steam schooners, tugboats, freighters and passenger vessels in Northern California waters. The collection has been processed to the Item level and is open for use.
    Primarily contains photographs of vessels underway and at anchor, but also includes vessels wrecked and a few under construction. There are 485 unique photographic images, in 1122 physical forms (300 nitrate negatives, 313 contact interpositives, 346 copy negatives, 134 safety negatives, and 29 black-and-white photographic prints). Most vessels are pictured on the West Coast, primarily in the Humboldt County area, the San Francisco Bay Area, and the Los Angeles/San Pedro area. There are also photographs of people aboard vessels (including Carl Christensen), shipyards, harbors and U.S. Lifesaving Service staff, vessels, and lighthouses.
    The collection includes photographs of MADAKET (built 1909; launch) which Carl piloted, and many vessels in Humboldt Bay, California, where Carl lived for most of his life. There are also many photographs of steam schooners, which Carl was interested in and knowledgeable about.
    Most of the original envelopes did not credit a photographer. Known photographers include: Aston, R.J. Baker, Orison Beaton, Hugh Delanty, R. Demaro, Freeman, Freeman Art Company, Roy D. Graves, Jim Leo, J.A. Meiser, Ralph Shanks, and J. Porter Shaw. Also, several photographs say: credit Carl Christensen/Joe Tibbetts Collection.

    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 the following series: Series 1: Vessels; Series 2: Shipyards and Harbors; Series 3: U.S. Lifesaving Service staff, vessels, and lighthouses; Series 4: People. Series 1 has been further arranged into 251 File Units, arranged alphabetically by vessel name.

    Related Materials

    Carl Christensen photograph collections:

    • Carl Christensen photographs (SAFR 18548, P78-085a)
    • Carl Christensen photograph albums (SAFR 19519, P78-478a) (Previously SCR 9 a-vvv)(Many of the negatives in this collection (P85-035) correspond to prints in the photograph albums in P78-478a)
    • Carl Christensen photograph collection (SAFR 19543, P79-093a)
    • Carl Christensen photograph collection (SAFR 00311, P83-057a)
    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.). Some of the negatives in P85-035 might be the same photographic image as Items in HDC 1600, but this has not been confirmed. There are photographs of many of the same vessels in both collections.
    Carl Christensen collection of naval architectural drawings (SAFR 23561, HDC 1202). 56 Items.
    • This material is located at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Schooners
    Steam schooners
    Merchant 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)
    Hubbenette, Norman, Captain
    Hubbenette, John T., Captain
    Tibbetts, Captain Joe
    Ajax (tugboat)
    Arrow II (tugboat)
    Balclutha (built 1886; ship, 3m)
    Betsy Olson (freighter)
    Cape Horn (built 1929; freighter)
    Daisy Gray (built 1923; steam schooner)
    Davison (dredge: U.S. Army)
    H-3 (submarine: U.S. Navy)
    Helen P. Drew (builit 1904; steam schooner)
    Howard Olson (freighter)
    Humboldt (built 1899; tugboat)
    Idaho (built 1916; steam schooner)
    Klamath (built 1909; steam schooner)
    Lahaina (freighter)
    Miacomet (tugboat)
    Oregon (built 1916; steam schooner)
    Parakoola (freighter)
    Paul Shoup (built 1921; tanker)
    Prospector (tugboat)
    Sea Witch (built 1883; tugboat)
    Seattle (dredge)
    South Coast (built 1887; steam schooner)
    Svea (built 1906; steam schooner)
    Vanguard (built 1904; steam schooner)
    Wapama (built 1915; steam schooner)
    W.S. Miller (built 1920; tanker)
    Hans D. Bendixsen Shipyard
    Marinship (Firm)
    Risdon Iron Works
    Rolph Shipyard
    Humboldt Bay (Calif.)
    Humboldt Bar (Calif.)
    San Francisco Bay (Calif.)--Harbor
    San Francisco Bay (Calif.)
    Sausalito (Calif.)
    San Pedro (Los Angeles, Calif.)--Harbor
    Pacific Coast (Calif.)
    Pacific Coast (Or.)
    Harbors--California
    Honolulu Harbor (Hawaii)
    Black-and-white negatives
    Black-and-white prints (photographs)
    Cellulose nitrate film
    Interpositives