Archives West Finding Aid
Table of Contents
- Overview of the Collection
- Content Description
- Use of the Collection
- Administrative Information
- Detailed Description of the Collection
- Names and Subjects
Amos Burg papers, circa 1855-1989
- Burg, Amos
- Amos Burg papers
- circa 1855-1989 (inclusive)18551989
- 8.4 cubic feet, (6 record cartons; 1 legal document case; 1 slim legal document case; 1 flat box (14x18); 3 oversize folders (30x42))
- Collection Number
- Mss 1759
- Papers of Amos Burg (1901-1986), including diaries, travel logs, notes, correspondence, published materials, and ephemera. Burg was born in Portland, Oregon, and lived there until after World War II, when he moved to Alaska. He traveled on multiple rivers in North America, and was a writer, photographer and filmmaker who worked for the National Geographic Society, the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Erpi Classroom films, and later the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Oregon Historical Society Research Library
1200 SW Park Avenue
- Access Restrictions
Collection is open for research.
Biographical NoteReturn to Top
Amos Burg, Jr. was born in 1901 in Portland, Oregon. At age 15, he signed on as a bellboy on the passenger ship Rose City; by the end of World War I, he had sailed around the world and earned the rank of able seaman. In 1920, he traveled down the Snake and Columbia rivers by canoe, the first of many river voyages he would take in his life. In 1922, he traveled from Montana to New Orleans via the Yellowstone, Missouri, and Mississippi rivers. In late 1924, he canoed the entire length of the Columbia River.
In 1928, Burg traveled to Alaska, where he filmed the annual caribou migration. This trip was the basis of the article "Today on the Yukon Trail of 1898," which was published in National Geographic Magazine in 1930; it was the first of ten feature articles that Burg wrote for the magazine, and until the 1950s Burg worked as an assignment and freelance writer, photographer, and filmmaker for the National Geographic Society, Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Erpi Classroom Films, Inc. This work included an expedition to Cape Horn and Tierra del Fuego in South America; expeditions to Alaska, China, and Japan; and filming the coronation of Britain's King George VI. In 1938, Burg and Haldane "Buzz" Halstrom journeyed on the Green and Colorado rivers.
During World War II, Burg worked as an agent for the United States government in Argentina and Chile. After the war, he moved to Juneau, Alaska, where he worked for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game from 1955 until his retirement in 1974. He produced 15 films during his tenure at the department, and both during his career and after retirement wrote the column "Campfire Reflections" in the department's magazine, "Alaska Fish Tails and Game Trails." He also wrote for Alaska newspapers under the pen name Sourdough Sam.
Burg married Carolyn Warren (1908-2000) in 1958. He died in 1986 in Juneau, Alaska, and had his ashes scattered over the Columbia River.
Sources: Obituary in the Daily Sitka Sentinel, June 16, 1986; articles in the Oregonian, 1924 and 1984-1986; collection materials; vital records on Ancestry.com.
Content DescriptionReturn to Top
The collection consists of papers relating to the life and work of Oregon-born explorer, writer, photographer, and filmmaker Amos Burg. A significant portion of the collection consists of diaries, trip logs, notes, and correspondence that reflect Burg's travels; his work as an assignment and freelance writer, photographer, and filmmaker for the National Geographic Society, Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Erpi Classroom Films; and his later career at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. A significant amount of this material relates to Alaska. Other travels well-represented are Burg's voyages on rivers in the United States and Canada and his time at Cape Horn and Tierra del Fuego in South America.
The collection also holds Burg's research notes; drafts and published clippings of newspaper and magazine articles that he wrote; unpublished writings, including quotes, proverbs, and observations that Burg wrote down; notes and papers relating to speeches and lectures that he gave; scripts and other records relating to films he produced; published materials by others that are about Burg or mention him; and papers relating to a schooner he owned, the Endeavour. Other materials in the collection include scrapbook pages of clippings, publications, and ephemera relating to Burg; the papers of Burg's wife, Carolyn Burg; addresses; guest book entries; and published material that Burg collected.
Use of the CollectionReturn to Top
Amos Burg papers, Mss 1759, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
The Oregon Historical Society owns the materials in the Research Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners.
Administrative InformationReturn to Top
Collection is arranged in 11 series:
- Series 1: Diaries
- Series 2: Trip records and memorabilia
- Series 3: Correspondence
- Series 4: Topical research materials
- Series 5: Unpublished writings
- Series 6: Published materials by Burg
- Series 7: Lectures and speeches
- Series 8: Materials relating to films by Burg
- Series 9: Published materials about Burg
- Series 10: Records of schooner Endeavour
- Series 11: Personal and family papers and memorabilia
Gifts of Carolyn Burg made between 1986 and 1995 (Lib. Acc. 17787; Lib. Acc. 20170; Lib. Acc. 22211).
Due to their condition, materials in Folders 1-3 of Box 9 and in Oversize Folder 3 may require assistance to view. Contact library staff.
The collection was initially processed in late 1992 or early 1993, with additions made circa 1995. The collection was reprocessed in 2023. Reprocessing included rehousing of materials and significant rearrangement. At that time, the collection description was revised to reflect these changes and to more thoroughly and accurately describe the collection's contents. Due to its condition, the original of the ship manual in Box 6, Folder 21, was discarded in 2023 after a preservation color photocopy was made.
Photographs from Lib. Acc. 17787, Lib. Acc. 20170, and Lib. Acc. 22211 were separated to the Amos Burg photographs collection, Org. Lot 450. Films from Lib. Acc. 20170 and Lib. Acc. 22211 were separated to the Amos Burg motion picture collection, MIC 5. Artifacts were separated to Museum Collections, Oregon Historical Society.
Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top
Series 1: Diaries, 1917-1984Return to Top
This series consists of diary entries, both in bound volumes and on loose pages, and related materials. Many of the diary entries relate to journeys that Burg undertook, particularly on rivers in the United States and Canada. Some volumes also contain notes and clippings, and one also contains copied passages from Erich Maria Remarque's novels and from a Will Rogers radio program. This series also holds typescript copies of diaries by Haldane "Buzz" Halstrom and Willis Johnson, who traveled with Burg on the Green River and Colorado River in 1938.
|1917 November 21-1918 January 27|
Diary of voyage to San Francisco, California
Diary of time on the U.S.S. Waikiki and on the Pacific Coast
Diary and related notes and writings
|1921 May 1-1922 May 14|
Loose diary entries
|1925 June 28-October 23|
Loose diary entry
|1927 September 7|
|1928 April 22-August 5|
Diary with additional writings quoting Erich Maria Remarque's novels and Will Rogers radio program
|1928 October 22-November 21; circa 1928-1931|
|1928 December 10-1924 April 24|
Diary from voyage on Athabasca River and Mackenzie River, with additional writings
|1929 September 6-7; circa 1929|
Typescript copy of diary entry; diary entries and related notes
Typed diary entries from Colorado River journey, and historical information about Colorado River journey
|1938 August 25-November 3; circa 1970|
Typescripts of Haldane "Buzz" Holstrom and Willis Johnson diaries from Colorado River journeys
Typescript of Wilis Johnson's diary from journey on Snake River and Columbia River
|1939 April 23-June 4|
Diary entries and related notes
|1960 February 4-April 29; 1964 May 4-October 5|
Diaries, plus notes about supplies, films, and finances
|1965 November 27-1966|
Diary of journey on Mackenzie River and related notes
|1968 July 14-August 1|
Diary entries and related notes
Diary entries and related notes
Diary entries and related notes
Book with notes, clippings, and diary entries
Diary entries and related notes
|1981 March-May; 1984 March 18-November 25|
Series 2: Trip records and memorabilia, 1918-1977Return to Top
This series consists of trip logs, notes, maps, and ephemera relating to journeys that Burg undertook throughout his life. Of particular note are several folders of travel log entries and notes regarding Burg's expedition to Cape Horn and Tierra del Fuego from 1933 to 1934 on an assignment from the National Geographic Society. The series also includes materials relating to multiple river journeys in the United States and Canada, multiple expeditions to Alaska, a 1924 trip to East Asia, and a post-World War II trip to Norway. Some notes include patronizing or derogatory statements about Indigenous peoples. The collection also includes typescript and photocopied versions of the logs that Burg's colleagues Haldane "Buzz" Halstrom and Willis Johnson kept when all three were traveling on the Green and Colorado rivers.
Due to their condition, papers relating to Burg's expedition to Alaska from 1950 to 1951 in Box 9, Folders 1-3, may require assistance to view; contact library staff.
Ephemera and memorabilia from trips, including currency, postcard packs, passenger lists, and menu
Trip logs for Lewis & Clark Trail expedition and Mississippi River journey; poem, "Song of the River," written by Burg during Mississippi River journey
Trip log for Columbia River journey (photocopy)
Trip log for journey from Seattle to East Asia (titled "Seattle to the Orient")
Handwritten transcript and photocopied maps of Snake River journey with Harry Fogelburg
Yukon River journey records, including notes, log entries, financial records, and possible film outline
Notes, hand-drawn map, and trip log for MacKenzie River and Yukon River journey
Map pages with markings showing 1929 trip from Athabasca to Whitehorse
Maps with markings showing route of MacKenzie River and Yukon River journeys in the 1920s
Trip log for and photograph of voyage on yacht Camargo
|1931 January 17-August 20|
Trip log, notes, and other records from journey to Cape Horn and Tierra del Fuego
Notes about Cape Horn and Tierra del Fuego, including notes about 1855 book "Captive in Patagonia"
Notes and caption scripts relating to National Geographic article about Cape Horn journey
Maps of South America, Cape Horn, and Tierra del Fuego
Notes, log entries, and clippings of photographs from Green River and Colorado River journey
Typescript and photocopies of Amos Burg, Buzz Holstrom, and Willis Johnson's trip logs for Green River and Colorado River journey
Notes, hand-drawn map, article drafts, and caption scripts relating to Snake River journey
Souvenir publication about Hammerfest, Norway
Notes and correspondence relating to "North Star" voyage to Alaska
Chronology and itinerary for Bracher River journey
Notebook for Mackenzie River voyage
Log for trip to Cape Horn and related notes
Equipment list and suggestions relating to Yukon River voyage
Series 3: Correspondence, circa 1918-1985Return to Top
Correspondence to Amos Burg from his mother, Annie Burg
Correspondence from Amos Burg to his parents, Amos Burg, Sr. and Annie Burg
Correspondence between Amos Burg and family
Incoming personal correspondence, surname or organization name A-H
Incoming personal correspondence, surname or organization name I-Z
Incoming personal correspondence, no surname provided
Outgoing personal correspondence
Incoming and outgoing correspondence relating to Burg's work at Alaska Department of Fish and Game and related records
Incoming and outgoing correspondence with Encylopaedia Britannica Films and Erpi Classroom Films, Inc.
Incoming and outgoing correspondence with National Geographic Society
Incoming professional correspondence and related records, surname or organization name A-G
Incoming professional correspondence and related records, surname or organization name H-Z
Outgoing professional correspondence
Correspondence from and to Amos Burg and Carolyn Burg relating to proposal to move Alaska's state capital and related clippings
Series 4: Topical research materials, 1932-1982Return to Top
Research notes and related photocopy of book pages on Colorado, Columbia, and Yukon rivers
Research notes and published material on lifeboats
Research notes on Norway
Research notes on Nunivak Island Inuit and related clippings
Notes for National Geographic articles on Oregon
Research notes on Pioneers' Home, Sitka, Alaska
Notes and writings, primarily about Ferdinand Magellan at Cape Horn
Unsorted research notes and published material used for research
Series 5: Unpublished writings, circa 1915-1984Return to Top
This series consists of unpublished writings by Burg other than his diaries and research notes. These include two short stories he wrote; the draft of an unfinished book; and compiled quotations, proverbs, and observations, most of which Burg labeled as "anecdotes."
Short story written as a school assignment, "Si and I"
Short story, "Love Confessions of a Sailor"
Compiled quotes, proverbs, and observations, titled by Burg as "anecdotes"
Notes on life experiences, news, lectures, and other topics
Notebook with notes, draft or copy of outgoing letter, and log entries
Notes and partial transcript of unfinished work by Burg about his voyage on the Katia, dedicated to Skip Wallen
Typed and handwritten vocabulary lists
Handwritten and typed life advice and proverbs
Series 6: Published materials by Burg, 1925-1985Return to Top
Covers for Alaska Fish Tales and Game Trails magazine using photos by Burg
Alaska Fish Tales and Game Trails column by Burg, "Campfire Reflections"
Drafts for "Campfire Reflections" column
Other Alaska Fish Tales and Game Trails articles by Burg
Drafts for and clippings of Daily Alaskan Empire column by Burg, "Mushin' Along Alaska Trails with Sourdough Sam"
National Geographic articles and photographs by Burg
Article by Burg about 1938 Colorado River journey
Drafts for articles about Alaska
Drafts for articles about Colombia
Drafts for articles about Burg's river voyages and related notes
Drafts for articles on various topics
Clippings of articles written by Burg in Alaska publications
Clippings of articles written by Burg or photographs taken by Burg in publications outside Alaska
Series 7: Lectures and speeches, circa 1930-1980Return to Top
Lecture and speech notes and drafts
Lecture and speech notes and drafts
Book of lecture notes
Programs, itineraries, advertisements, and financial records for lectures and lecture tours
Notes for speech to Seattle Rotary Club about news around the world
Speech about Burg's job at Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Speech to Explorers Club
Series 8: Materials relating to films by Burg, circa 1928-1989Return to Top
Essay by person named "Mark" about Burg film, "The Story Behind the Alaska Big Game Safari Film 1960"
Loan records for and notes about Alaska Department of Fish and Game films
Handbooks, background information, advertisements, and shooting scripts for Encyclopaedia Britannica films and Erpi Classroom Films
Shooting script, records, and notes for film "Navajo Wood Plant," and related publications
Correspondence and financial records relating to film "Navajo Wood Plant"; note from Carolyn Burg about production of film
|1974-1977; 1989 June 7|
Text for film, "On the Hudson's Bay Trail to the Polar Sea"
Captions and text for films about Alaska
Captions for films by Burg
Script drafts, captions, and notes for films shown at Burg's lectures
Notes on films made in 1928
Unsorted papers related to filmmaking
Series 9: Published materials about Burg, 1924-1986Return to Top
Newspaper and magazine clippings about Burg
National Geographic Society Members' newsletters mentioning Burg
Radio interview scripts and transcripts
Article about Burg by Jean Steffens
Draft of article about Burg's films, author unidentified
Article about Burg, author unidentified
Draft and final versions of Explorer's Journal article about Burg by Oshen Agathon
Article in Alaska Magazine, quoting Burg's opposition to river dams
Explorer's Club newsletter with feature about Burg
Essay by Ken Wise, "North to Alaska - by Canoe (Two Thousand Miles from Seattle to Circle, Alaska)," citing Burg as an inspiration
"Campfire Reflections" column by Mark Kissel about Burg
Series 10: Records of the schooner Endeavour, 1908-1989Return to Top
This series relates to a schooner that Burg purchased around 1939 and initially named the Captain R. O. Rankin after its former owner before changing its name to Endeavour. In addition to official paperwork relating to the ship, this series includes the ship's plans, a manual for its operation, logbook entries, a few photographs, and two newspaper articles about the ship. The series also includes notes that Amos Burg and his wife, Carolyn Burg, wrote about the ship in the 1980s, and a photograph of a drawing depicting a different ship, the H. M. Bark Endeavour, which may have been the namesake of Burg's schooner.
Due to condition, plans for ship equipment in Oversize Folder 1 may require assistance to view; contact library staff.
Ship manual (black and white photocopy and preservation color photocopy)
Ship plans (photocopies of sections)
Ship equipment plans
Newspaper clipping about Burg purchasing Endeavour
|1939 July 6|
Notes about best practices in sailing
Photographs (1 print and 2 photocopies)
Article about Endeavour's new engine
Notes by Amos Burg and Carolyn Burg about Endeavour; photograph of drawing of H. M. Bark Endeavour
Series 11: Personal and family papers and memorabilia, circa 1855-1989, (bulk circa 1913-1989) Return to Top
Awards and certificates
Award certificate from Encyclopaedia Britannica Educational Corporation
Club member rosters, membership cards, and business cards
Rotary Club materials: Cover of Rotarian with photo by Burg; newsletters; telegram
Diploma from Oregon Institute of Technology
|1937 June 7|
Photograph of Burg's flag with insignia and humorous "instructions" for flag's use
Alaska property records
Scrapbook pages with clippings, publications, postcards, and correspondence
Scrapbook pages with clippings, ephemera, and correspondence (original)
Scrapbook pages with clippings, ephemera, and correspondence (preservation photocopies)
Wills and testaments of Amos Burg and Carolyn Burg
|1968 May 6|
Memorial service programs for Burg; eulogy for Burg by Cort Conley
Correspondence to and from Carolyn Burg
Newspaper articles by Carolyn Burg; newspaper clipping about Carolyn Burg
|1965 August 8; 1967 August 22; 1968 May 17|
Copy of legislation suggested by Carolyn Burg, with notes by her
Memoirs of Amos Burg's sister, Vera Burg Yunker
Eulogy for Haldane "Buzz" Holstrom
Partial letter by unknown author to "Rolf and Betty" discussing Haldane "Buzz" Holstrom and Amos Burg
|1980 October 21|
Poster advertising Utah State History Museum exhibit about 1937-1938 river expeditions by Amos Burg and Haldane "Buzz" Holstrom
Financial record for canoe "Song o' the Winds"
Advertisement for Dwight Long lecture about his sailing around the world
Maps of Snake River, Porcupine River region, and Middle Fork of Salmon River
|circa 1913-1955; 1976|
Map of Canadian Arctic Expedition routes
Maps of Alaska Steamship Company routes
Powell Centennial Grand Canyon River Guide, including a mention of Amos Burg
Report, possibly written by Amos Burg, about missing biologists Peter Winslow and Rex Thomas
Pencil sketches by Ralphael Livingstone
Account by Michael Lesley, "Yukon River Float Trip, August 1977," and accompanying illustration of moose hoofprint
Voters' pamphlet with markings by Carolyn Burg and possibly Amos Burg
Typescript copy of William Parker Snow's account about Tierra del Fuego, with brief annotations by Amos Burg
Tierra del Fuego memorabilia: lithographs of schooner Allen Gardiner at Cape Horn; photograph of Indigenous peoples; clipping from magazine of Nathaniel Brown Palmer's portrait
Reference articles and publications of interest to Amos Burg
Collection of inspirational literature
Religious pamphlet, "Awake and Inherit," with markings by Amos Burg
Guest book pages
Book with guest entries and notes about Christmas card recipients
|circa 1935; circa 1970-1980|
Unsorted papers and clippings
Names and SubjectsReturn to Top
- Authors, American--Alaska
- Authors, American--Oregon
- Motion picture producers and directors
- Burg, Amos
- Alaska. Department of Fish and Game
- Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.
- Erpi Classroom Films, Inc.
- National Geographic Society (U.S.)
- Alaska--Description and travel
- Canada--Description and travel
- Tierra del Fuego (Argentina and Chile)--Description and travel
- United States--Description and travel--20th century
Form or Genre Terms
- scripts (documents)