Family Photograph Collection from Nome, Alaska, circa 1910-1912  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Family Photograph Collection from Nome, Alaska
circa 1910-1912 (inclusive)
38 photographs, 3 postcards (1 folder)
Collection Number
Photographs of a family living and working in Nome, Alaska
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 206-543-1929
Fax: 206-543-1931
Access Restrictions

Access to originals restricted. Entire collection is available on the digital site. Permission of curator required for access to originals.


Content DescriptionReturn to Top

These photographs were probably collected by the woman depicted in them, who also wrote the captions on the backs of some of the photographs. The woman and a man "O.D.," probably her husband, appear to have lived and worked in Nome, Alaska around 1910-1912. Photographs depict the woman, "O.D.," groups of adults on ships and hiking, children, Front Street in the snow and other Nome snow scenes, and a view of Council, Alaska. The collection also includes 3 postcards of Nome, Alaska, including a photo postcard by Otto Daniel Goetze.

The exact identity of the woman depicted in these photographs and her family is unknown. She may have been a friend or relation of Mary M. Durkee, resident of Seattle; she may also have been a friend or associate of Fred and Elma Cowden, a couple living in Nome. The family had an office on Front Street, Nome's main commercial center; however, the profession practiced by the woman, her husband or both is unclear. One possible identity for the woman is Elizabeth Goetze, wife of Otto Daniel Goetze, a photographer who worked extensively in Nome around that time period. Goetze, born in 1871 in Missouri, took many photographs of the Alaska Gold Rush around Nome. He married Elizabeth Skinner, born in 1882, in Seattle in 1911; the family then may have moved to Cedar Valley. Elizabeth died at the age of 52 in Seattle in 1934. Another possibility is that the woman is Viola M. Orton, wife of Ira (Iruso) D. Orton, a Nome attorney. Viola was born in Michigan in 1881; by 1910 she and her husband Ira were settled in Nome, where Ira practiced law with Lyons & Orton, and they raised four children, Constance, Allen, Ira Jr., and Priscilla. By 1930, the family had moved permanently to Seattle, where Viola died in 1948 at the age of 66.

The city of Nome, incorporated in 1901, is located on the Seward Peninsula in northwest Alaska. The area was first settled by Westerners in 1898, when the "Three Lucky Swedes"--Jafet Lindberg, Erik Lindblom and John Bynteson--discovered gold in the beach sands of the region. This discovery prompted the Nome Gold Rush, with the population increasing to 10,000 within a year. Between 1900 and 1909, the population was estimated to have been as high as 20,000; schools were built, resaturants and other services opened, and three newspapers printed. After the gold rush ended, the population had decreased dramatically by 1910. Today, Nome is still the largest city of its region, with population of about 3,500. Nome was the destination of the 1925 Race of Mercy, wherein diphtheria antitoxin was brought in via dogsled to deal with a serious outbreak; and the city is still a center for dogsledding and is the end point of the Iditarod Sled Race.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Alternative Forms Available

View the digital version of the collection

Restrictions on Use

Restrictions may exist on reproduction, quotation, or publication. Contact Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries for details.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top


Home & OfficeReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Folder item
1 1 circa 1910-1912
1 2
 Woman sitting in an office
Written on verso: Me in our new office, and I'm just as fat and lazy as I look.
circa 1910-1912
1 3 circa 1910-1912
1 4
 Dinner table decorated with miniature sailboats at each plate.
Written on verso: [Livingroom] and the table set for the luncheon I gave Mrs. Cowden.
circa 1910-1912
1 5 circa 1910-1912
1 6
 Woman standing near house in in deep snow with small dog
Written on verso: O.D.'s tunnel at side of house. Buster and myself. Taken day after big storm.
circa 1910-1912
1 7
 Two women standing in garden in front of house with laundry hanging outside, July 4th
Written on verso: This is my cabin and my old landlady out in her garden pulling radishes. My washing done on the fourth of July.
circa 1910-1912
1 8 November 10, 1911
1 9-10 circa 1910-1912
1 11-12 circa 1910-1912
1 13 circa 1910-1912
1 14
 A young girl with sled standing with a woman on a snowy street
Written on back: Mrs. J.W. Durkee 4639 Lucille St Seattle.
circa 1910-1912

OutdoorsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Folder item
1 15
 A woman standing on a snow bank
Written on verso: Me on snow bank. Nome, July 4th 1910.
July 4, 1910
1 16
 Man, O.D., with dog sled at the edge of a snowy forest
Written on verso: O.D. returning from his trip to Council. Among the timber.
circa 1910-1912
1 17 circa 1910-1912
1 18
 Dog, Buster, carrying a dead goose out of the water to two men on the shore
Written on verso: This is Buster bringing a Goose out of the water after the man Leal shot it. The goose was nearly as large as Buster, he is a small dog.
circa 1910-1912
1 19
 Dog, Buster, carrying a dead goose across a stretch of shallow water
Written on verso: Buster bringing Goose out of lake.
circa 1910-1912
1 20 circa 1910-1912
1 21 circa 1910-1912
1 22
 A breaking wave
Written on verso: High Surf Nome, Alaska, Nov, 1910.
November 1910
1 23 circa 1910-1912

Nome & CouncilReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Folder item
1 24
 Front Street covered with large pile of snow
Written on verso: A portion of Front Street in front of our office, after first big storm.
circa 1910-1912
1 25
 Front Street covered in snow
Written on verso: Looking from our office window down Front Street Nome Alaska.
circa 1910-1912
1 26
 A man stands with a harnessed reindeer in a snowy street
Written on verso: The reindeer and native driver who won the race, making better time than a [cut off] of the dog teams in a short race.
circa 1910-1912
1 27
 Several houses almost buried in snow
Written on verso: Here is a fair sample of snow piles in Nome. This is our neighborhood and not half as bad as some of the streets and houses. It's a case of dig yourself out every morning.
circa 1910-1912
1 28 circa 1910-1912
1 29
 View of Council, Alaska
Written on verso: A bird's eye view of Council, Alaska, where O.D. went.
circa 1910-1912
Container(s) Description Dates
Folder item
1 30
 A woman sitting on the railing of a boat on the shore
Written on front: Me myself.Written on verso: This was taken down at the mouth of Snake River, looking out to Sea.
circa 1910-1912
1 31
 A group of men, women and children standing on the deck of the ship Victoria
Written on front: On Board S.S. Victoria Near Nome Alaska July 21st 1912
July 21, 1912
1 32 circa 1910-1912
1 33 circa 1910-1912
1 34 circa 1910-1912
Container(s) Description Dates
Folder item
1 35 circa 1910-1912
1 36 circa 1910-1912
1 37
 A woman standing on railroad track
Written on verso: Me on the R.R. track with my loaf of bread under my arm.
circa 1910-1912
1 38
 Man, O.D., standing on railroad track
Written on front: O.D.
circa 1910-1912

PostcardsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Folder item
1 39
 Inuit children searching each others' heads for lice
: postcard
Otto Daniel Goetze (photographer)
Printed on front: By O.D. Goetze. More Than One Way To Prospect in Nome, Alaska.
circa 1910-1912
1 40
 View of Nome
: postcard
Portland Post Card Company (publisher)
Printed on front: Looking East from Center of Nome, Alaska.
circa 1910-1912
1 41
 View of Nome
: postcard
Fay Lienard (photographer)
Printed on verso: This view shows the historic gold town and the worked out gold fields, with Anvil Mountain in the background. Photo by Fay Lienard.
circa 1950's-1970's

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Personal Names :
  • Goetze, O. D. (Otto Daniel)
  • Geographical Names :
  • Nome (Alaska)--Buildings, structures, etc.--Photographs
  • Nome (Alaska)--Photographs

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Visual Materials Collections (University of Washington)