Photograph Album of the Cruise of the Revenue Cutter "Corwin" in Alaska: Finding Aid

Finding aid prepared by Michelle Sanchez.
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
Photo Archives
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2191
© 2013
The Huntington Library. All rights reserved.

Overview of the Collection

Title: Photograph Album of the Cruise of the Revenue Cutter "Corwin" in Alaska
Dates (inclusive): approximately 1881-1883
Collection Number: photCL 97
Extent: 36 photographs in 1 album; album 18 x 27 cm (7 x 11 in) + 1 preservation microfilm copy reel.
Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Photo Archives
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2191
Abstract: This photograph album illustrates the sights and peoples experienced during a voyage of the United States Revenue Cutter Thomas Corwin to Alaska and the Arctic Ocean during the early 1880s. There are many views of native (Inuit) villages and inhabitants in Alaska and coastal Siberia, along with scenery and seascapes. All photographs are accompanied by detailed manuscript captions by an unknown individual. Photographs depict Alaskan nature scenes and harbors; Inuit people, dwellings and villages; and documentation of the fur trade in the 19th century.
Language: English.
Finding aid last updated on April 28, 2014.


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Administrative Information

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Preferred Citation

Photograph Album of the Cruise of the Revenue Cutter "Corwin" in Alaska. The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


Purchased from Shorey Book Store (Seattle, Washington) in 1956.

Historical Note

The USRC Thomas Corwin was a United States Revenue Cutter that patrolled the Arctic Ocean and Bearing Sea, beginning in the late 1870s. In 1882, Michael A. Healy (1839-1904) became commander of the Corwin, and he rose to the position of captain in March of 1883. While in command of the Corwin, Healy patrolled the Arctic to the prevent illegal sale of guns and alcohol to the Alaskan natives and to control illegal fur seal hunting. The captain was also concerned for the well-being of the Alaskan natives, and ferried Siberian caribou to help reestablish the natives' food supply, since many seals and walruses were killed by white traders.

Scope and Content

This album contains photographs that were taken during a voyage of the USRC Thomas Corwin to Alaska and the Arctic Ocean during the early 1880s. With images of the Inuit inhabitants including portraits; views of homes and villages; and the killing and skinning of seals. There are also views of non-Indian hunters and traders. The Inuit villages and dwellings illustrated are in Sitka, St. Michael, King's Island, and locations in Siberia. There is one view of an "Eskimo" [i.e. Inuit] grave at an unidentified location.
The photograph album has the title "Scenes in Alaska and the Arctic Ocean. 1883" embossed on the front cover. An ink manuscript title page reads: "Cruise of the Revenue Cutter 'Corwin' 1881." All photographs are accompanied by detailed manuscript captions in ink by an unknown individual.

Alternative Form of Materials Available

Visit the Huntington Digital Library: Photographs   to view digitized images from this album.

Related materials in the Huntington Library

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  


Body piercing -- Photographs.
Corwin (Ship) -- Photographs.
Fur trade -- Alaska -- Photographs.
Graves -- Alaska -- Photographs.
Indians of North America -- Alaska -- Photographs.
Inuit -- Photographs.
Orthodox churches -- Photographs.
Russian Orthodox -- Photographs.
Sailing ships -- Photographs.
Whaling -- Photographs.
Healy, Michael A., 1839-1904.
Alaska -- Photographs.
Arctic Ocean -- Photographs.
Bering Sea -- Photographs.
Siberia (Russia)-- Photographs.


Photograph albums.
Marine photographs.

Collection Contents

Box 1

Photograph Album


Item titles transcribed from handwritten captions.
Item  1

Departure Bay. East side of Vancouver Island B.C. A coal depot; extensive mines 5 or 6 miles inland.

Item  2

Fort Wrangell. A settlement in South Eastern Alaska. Indian village on the right.

Item  3

Sitka. Capital of Alaska. Indian village on the left.

Item  4

Harbor of Sitka. Alaska.

Item  5

Town and harbor of Ounalaska [Unalaska]. Ounalaska [Unalaska] Island, Behring [Bering] sea.

Item  6

Town of Ounalaska [Unalaska]. Behring [Bering] Sea. Headquarters and stove houses of Alaska Commercial Co.

Item  7

Mountain Scene and waterfall. Island of Ounalaska [Unalaska]

Item  8

Town on St. Paul's Island. Behring [Bering] sea.

Item  9

Interior of Greek Church. St. Paul's Island.

Item  10

Fur seals on the beach. St. Paul's Island.

Item  11

Group of fur seals. St. Paul's Island.

Item  12

Killing fur seals. The animals are killed by a blow on the head with a large club. Party on the right are the killers; on the left are the skinners who strip the fur coats off of the dead bodies with sharp knives.

Item  13

"Rocks beside the Sea". St. Paul's Island.

[Group of men, women, and boy sitting on rocks. Boy may be Fred Healy, son of Captain Michael A. Healy. Woman to the right of the boy may be Mary Jane Healy, Healy's wife.]
Item  14

Indian town, St. Michaels [Michael], Alaska.

Item  15

Alaska Commercial Co's trading post. St. Michaels [Michael], Alaska.

Item  16

Natives and traders. St. Michaels [Michael], Alaska.

Item  17

Esquimo [Eskimo] natives of St. Michaels [Michael]. Skin canoe or "bidarka". Esquimo [Eskimo] dogs. (Mastodon tusk on the left).

Item  18

"Western Fur Co.'s" trading post. St. Michaels [Michael].

Item  19

Village on Kings' Island, Behring (Bering) Sea. Island very steep, rocky, and barren; rises about 1000 feet in height and is about 1 mile across. Houses in view are of walrus hide, outer end supported by poles of drift wood. Some live in caves. Natives very healthy, strong, and active.

Item  20

Village at Plover [Providence] Bay, Siberia. Houses of walrus hide supported by drift wood poles lashed together.

Item  21

Groups of natives at Plover [Providence] Bay, Siberia. Central figure is "Cornelius", a native who has been abroad and received some education on Long Island. Speaks English well.

Item  22

"Polunna" [Alaska native youth]. Plover [Providence] Bay, Siberia.

Item  23

Village at Indian Point. Siberia.

Item  24

Groupe [Group] of natives at Indian Point, Siberia.

Item  25

Summer encampment of Esquimo [Eskimo] at Hotham Inlet Arctic Ocean.

Item  26

Summer encampment, Hotham Inlet. Arctic Ocean. Frames erected for drying and preserving fish. Drying walrus hides. Seal skin bags for holding oil.

Item  27

Esquimo [Eskimo] tea party. Spafarief Bay. Kotzbue [Kotzebue] Sound. Arctic Ocean.

Item  28

Esquimo [Eskimo] grave.

Item  29

"Itit-karook". Showing peculiar lip ornaments worn by men, only, on the American shores of the Arctic & Behring [Bering] Sea.

Item  30

Spafarief Bay. Kotzbue [Kotzebue] Sound. Arctic Ocean. Skin houses, canoes, oil bags &c

Item  31

Original posts, Chamisso Island. Arctic Ocean. Erected in 1826 by H.M.S. "Blossom" in search of Sir John Franklin.

Item  32

Groupe [Group] of natives from Point Hope, Arctic Ocean.

Item  33

Cape Thompson, Arctic Ocean.

Item  34

American whaler in the Arctic. Bark "Abram Barker" of New Bedford.

Item  35

Sunset in the Arctic Ocean. July 27th 1883. 10:30 p.m.

Item  36

Coal Mine Bluff, Arctic Ocean. About 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

Box  2

Preservation microfilm copy

Access Information

Advance arrangements for viewing the preservation microfilm must be made with the Curator of Photographs.


Microfilm reel of copy negatives held in cold storage.