Archives West Finding Aid
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Frank H. Nowell Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition photographs, 1908-1909
- Nowell, Frank H., 1864-1950
- Frank H. Nowell Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition photographs
- 1908-1909 (inclusive)1908 1909
- 178 glass plate negatives
- Collection Number
- Photographs of the buildings, grounds, exhibits and events of the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle, for which Nowell was the official photographer.
Museum of History & Industry, Sophie Frye Bass Library
Sophie Frye Bass Library
Museum of History & Industry
P.O. Box 80816
Telephone: 2063241126 x137 or x237
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open to the public by appointment.
- Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Biographical NoteReturn to Top
Frank H. Nowell was born on February 19, 1864 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, one of six sons of Thomas and Lydia Ham Nowell. The elder Nowell spent part of each year in Alaska for business purposes, and in 1886, at age 22, Frank joined him, setting sail for Juneau with six cows and one bull to begin the first dairy ranch in Alaska. He soon sold that business and joined his father operating a mining company on Douglas Island near Juneau. Over the years, Frank continued to work in Alaska in various capacities in his father's business ventures.
On one of his trips back to the east coast, Nowell took up photography as a hobby. He also met Elizabeth Helen Davis of Detroit and the two were married in 1894. Frank and Elizabeth moved to the west coast, where Frank set up an office as a purchasing agent for his father's company in Juneau. They lived in California for a time, in San Francisco, Oakland and Pacific Grove, where their daughter Dorothy was born. Leaving his family behind, Frank returned to Alaska, first to Juneau and then, in 1900, to Nome. Nowell was involved in business ventures for several years, neglecting his photography until Elizabeth brought his camera to Alaska when she and Dorothy met him in Teller, where Nowell was working for the Ames Mercantile Company. Nowell began to make photographs of Alaska and its native people; before long, he opened a studio on Second Avenue and Steadman Street in Nome and was making photographs full time. Nowell photographed businessmen, city officials, native Alaskans, railroads, hydraulic mining and waterways and ports, creating a visual record of Alaska just after the turn of the century.
Nowell traveled between Nome and Seattle while an assistant ran the Nome studio, and by 1908 was spending most of his time in Seattle. Around 1908, J.E. Chilberg, president of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle, appointed Nowell as the fair’s official photographer. Nowell’s many AYPE photographs were displayed at the fair and used in many official publications.
After the APYE, Nowell remained in Seattle, running a commercial photography studio for 25 years. In the 1940s, Nowell retired and lived with his daughter on his ranch at Crystal Lake, where he died on October 19, 1950.
Content DescriptionReturn to Top
The collection consists of 178 glass plate negatives of the Seattle Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in 1909, for which Frank H. Nowell was the official photographer. Most of the images depict AYPE building exteriors and grounds, though a few depict exhibits on display inside various buildings. Several images document the attractions of the amusement area, the Pay Streak, include images of Alaskan natives and the Igorrote people of the Philippines on exhibit.
Historical BackgroundReturn to Top
The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition opened in Seattle on June 1, 1909 with nearly 80,000 visitors. Originally planned for 1907 to mark the 10th anniversary of the Klondike Gold Rush, the Exposition was postponed two years to avoid a conflict with another summer long exhibition in Jamestown, Virginia, marking that town’s tercentenary. In addition to providing time in which to raise additional funds, the delay gave the planners the opportunity to expand the original concept from that of a commemorative Alaska exhibit to a fair encompassing all the Pacific Rim countries and territories. The new scope of the AYPE would not simply commemorate the past, but display the value of commercial trade with the Pacific Rim, celebrate a new era of commercial and industrial expansion and promote Seattle as its center.
Nationally known landscape architects from Boston, brothers John and Frederick Olmstead, designed the fairgrounds. The central portion of the grounds was oriented along axes that exploited the natural beauty of the setting, with views of Mount Rainer, Lake Union and Lake Washington. Built on 250 acres of the largely undeveloped campus of the University of Washington (and partially funded by the state legislature for later use by the University), the AYPE grounds were close to downtown and convenient transportation. Though most of the buildings, designed by John Galen Howard, were too poorly built to survive, the landscaping of the grounds added value to the university by removing wilderness and opening new possibilities for future university installations.
The grounds were centered around the Arctic Circle, with its cascading fountain and reflecting pool, and the surrounding Court of Honor, flanked by two wings of three buildings on either side. Descending from the domed Government Building, these six building were named for Europe, Asia, Alaska, Hawaii and the industries of Manufacturing and Agriculture. Among other notable AYPE buildings was the Forestry Building, a massive structure built entirely of huge logs in their natural state and surviving for several years after the Exposition as the Washington State Museum, until it was damaged by beetles and razed in 1931. California, Utah, Oregon and Idaho each provided buildings, as did the Washington counties of Chehalis, King, Yakima and Spokane. Most of the buildings were constructed cheaply and easily of plaster and were razed immediately after the fair. Brick buildings that survived include Meany Hall, which was used by the University until the 1964 earthquake, and the Fine Arts Building, now the University’s Architecture Hall. The Geyser Basin reflecting pond still survives as the University of Washington's Frosh Pond; the statue of George Washington, one of several patriotic statues built on the fair grounds, also remains as a feature of the University of Washington campus.
Exhibits ranged from the educational to the sensational, including a 30 feet high pineapple made of smaller pineapples, and an elephant made entirely of exotic nuts. The Fine Arts building displayed numerous paintings in its galleries; government exhibits displayed artifacts of American history and highlighted the work of federal agencies of special interest to the west, such as the reclamation service. The Seattle Symphony Orchestra and other local musical organization held concerts. Many exhibits were enhanced by free lectures and special guided study tours for children. Promotional publications and souvenir booklets accompanied some exhibits, depicting each locality as a sort of paradise on earth. Designated “days” for cities, state, peoples and special interest groups were popular. These included parades, contests, speeches, and balls--often occasions to dress in traditional costumes, as in a pageant of Norwegian history, featuring a Viking ship and armor-clad warriors.
The amusements of the Pay Streak were a popular stop for many Exposition visitors. The Pay Streak featured attractions like the Alaska Theater of Sensation, the Fairy Gorge Tickler ride, a miniature railway journey and a recreation of the Battle of Gettysburg. The Pay Streak also featured a variety of exotic dancers and, purportedly, the largest ferris wheel in the world The most popular Pay Streak attraction, however, was an exhibit of a mock village of the Igorrote people, natives of the Philippine Islands. Igorrote men, women and children were displayed in a simulated “native” habitat, with typical Igorrote houses; they performed dances and demonstrated traditional crafts in their--sometimes controversial--traditional attire of loincloths.
Business leaders hoped the Exposition would create an interest in real estate and lure capital for development to Seattle. Though the fair brought money to the city, it actually brought few long term benefits. The anticipated influx of people from other parts of the country never did occur, nor was there significant increased development of Alaska or the development of better trade relations with Pacific rim countries. The buildings did not offer much help to the University of Washington. The fair returned a modest profit, however, and paid a 4 % dividend to stockholders. It brought some recognition to Seattle, provided a season of entertainment and rallied the local community. After drawing approximately 3.7 million paying visitors to its gate, the AYPE closed on October 16.
Use of the CollectionReturn to Top
Photographic prints made from the glass plate negative originals are available for reference purposes.
View selections from the collection in digital format by clicking on the camera icons in the inventory below.
The Museum of History & Industry is the owner of the materials in the Sophie Frye Bass Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from MOHAI before any reproduction use. The museum does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners.
Frank H. Nowell Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition Photographs, Museum of History & Industry, Seattle
Administrative InformationReturn to Top
Items 1-161 were arranged in ascending order by photographer’s number, then given a new number by the repository. Items 162-167 were not numbered by Nowell according to the same system. Items 168-178 were added after conservation and are also consecutive by photographer’s number.
2b.2.9 (modern prints)
Found in collection.
The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition Collection (2006.3) includes promotional and souvenir publications, photographs, postcards and ephemera related to the AYPE.
The O.D. Goetze Photographs and Other Materials (1995.38) include approximately 240 photographic postcards of the AYPE.
Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top
The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.
Photographer's number given in parentheses.
|1 : Frank H. Nowell in profile||undated|
|2 : Official emblem of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (Nowell x89)||1909|
|3 : Geranium plant (unnumbered)||1909|
|4 : Men with logs for Forestry Building construction (Nowell x348)||1908 December 16|
|5 : Mount Rainier from University of Washington Campus (Nowell x397)||undated|
|6 : Manufactures Building (Nowell x526)||1909 June 1|
|1980.6987.11: AYPE officials, including AYPE President J.E. Chilberg and AYPE Director
General Ira E. Nadeau (Nowell x580)
This photograph by Nowell is part of the Collection on the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in the repository and is included in this inventory for reference purposes.
|7 : Planked walkway (Nowell x702)||1909|
|8 : Igorotte workers at Igorotte Village (Nowell x757)||1909|
|9 : Official emblem of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (Nowell x773)||1909|
|10 : Fine Arts Building (Nowell x796)||1909|
|11 : Birds-eye view of AYPE grounds from Government Building (Nowell x926)||1909|
|12 : Music Pavilion and walkway (Nowell x932)||1909|
|13 : Oriental Palace (Nowell x966)||1909|
|14 : Staging of AYPE emblem with live models (Nowell x1059)||1909|
|15 : Cascade fountain with Government Building in background (Nowell x1067)||1909|
|16 : Stairway inside Forestry Building (Nowell x1085)||1909|
|17 : Igorotte and Inuit group at Igorotte village (Nowell x1105)||1909|
|18 : Igorotte child (Nowell x1108)||1909|
|19, 20: Igorotte and Inuit children (Nowell x1109, 1110)||1909|
|21 : Log exhibit, with plank grain arranged to look like human body (spirit board?) (Nowell x1158)||1909|
|22, 23 : Cascade fountain with Government Building in background (Nowell x1161, 1163)||1909|
|24 : Field of flower beds planted with pansies (Nowell x1205)||1909|
|25 : Dairy Exhibit Building (Nowell x1235)||1909 May 21|
|26 : Ezra Meeker with covered wagon near Pioneers Restaurant (Nowell x1264)||1909|
|27 : Oriental Building (Nowell x1277)||1909 March 18|
|28 : Paraffine Paint Company Building (Nowell x1279)||1909|
|29 : Spokane Building (Nowell x1283)||1909|
|30 : Chehalis County Building (Nowell x1284)||1909|
|31 : King County Building (Nowell x1285)||1909|
| 32 : Bastion (Nowell x1286)
The Vancouver B.C. Daily World headquarters was housed in this structure, built to replicate the Hudson Bay Co. bastion at Nanaimo, Vancouver Island.
|33 : Washington Good Roads Building (Nowell x1287)||1909|
|34 : Alaska Building (Nowell x1291)||1909|
|35 : Oregon Building (Nowell x1292)||1909|
|36 : California Building (Nowell x1293)||1909|
|37 : Cascade Fountain and Government Building (Nowell x1310)||1909|
|38 : Washington Good Roads Building (Nowell x1337)||1909|
|39 : United States Life Saving Station (Nowell x1357)||1909|
|40 : U.S. Government Philippine Exhibit Building (Nowell x1401)||1909|
|41, 42: Fine Arts Building (Nowell x1411, 1418)||1909|
|43: Court of Honor across the Geyser Basin (Nowell x1446)||1909|
|44, 45 : Exhibit inside Forestry Building (Nowell x1459, 1461)||1909|
|46: California Building (Nowell x1469)||1909|
|47: Idaho Building (Nowell x1470)||1909|
|48 : Alaska Building (Nowell x1474)||1909|
|49 : Yakima County Building (Nowell x1475)||1909|
|50 : Replica of the New York home of William H. Seward (Nowell x1479)||1909|
|51 : Men in front of Great Northern Railway locomotives on display (Nowell x1483)||1909|
|52 : Court of Honor showing Geyser Basin (Nowell x1488)||1909|
|53 : Canada Building (Nowell x1491)||1909|
|54 : Grand Trunk Railway Building (Nowell x1492)||1909|
|55 : Education Building (Nowell x1495)||1909|
|56 : Formal sunken gardens (Nowell x1501)||1909|
|57: People near Yakima County Building (Nowell x1503)||1909|
|58 : Washington State Building (Nowell x1505)||1909|
|59 : Looking north on the Pay Streak, showing crowds near Japanese Village, and the Scenic Railway (Nowell x1515)||1909|
|60 : Looking north on the Pay Streak, showing crowds and the Gold Camps of Alaska (Nowell x1516)||1909|
|61 : Fine Arts Building (Nowell x1518)||1909|
|62 : Hawaii Building (Nowell x1525)||1909|
|63 : Auditorium Building (Nowell x1529)||1909|
|64 : Vienna Cafe (Nowell x1532)||1909|
|65 : Spokane Building (Nowell x1534)||1909|
|66 : Replica of the New York home of William H. Seward (Nowell x1541)||1909|
|67 : Oregon Building (Nowell x1545)||1909|
|68 : Army detachment in front of Arctic Brotherhood Building and Amphitheater (Nowell x1553)||1909|
|69 : Alaska Building showing Cascade Fountain (Nowell x1569)||1909|
|70: U.S. Government Philippine Exhibit Building (Nowell x1576)||1909|
|71 : Oregon Building (Nowell x1586)||1909|
|72 : Firmin Michel Roast Beef Corporation and Eskimo Building in Pay Streak (Nowell x1594)||1909|
|73 : Pacific Avenue looking toward the Forestry and Paraffine Paint Company Buildings (Nowell x1596)||1909|
|74 : Vienna Cafe (Nowell x1602)||1909|
|75 : Manufactures, King County and Machinery Buildings, looking toward Lake Washington (Nowell x1606)||1909|
|76 : Crowds around Music Pavilion (Nowell x1609)||1909|
|77 : Bandstand and crowd in Nome Circle, with Forestry Building (Nowell x1631)||1909|
|78 : Young woman making clay pot in Igorotte Village (Nowell x1640)||1909|
|79 : Igorotte family outside "Typical Rich Man's House" in Igorotte Village (Nowell x1686)||1909|
|80 : Washington State Building (Nowell x1700)||1909|
|81 : California Building (Nowell x1707)||1909|
|82 : Looking south on the Pay Streak (Nowell x1709)||1909|
|83 : California Building (Nowell x1713)||1909|
|84 : "Caribou Bill" with woman and his dog team at Eskimo Village (Nowell x1854)||1909|
|85 : Loaded pack mules in exhibit (Nowell x1859)||1909|
|86 : Spokane Building (Nowell x1886)||1909|
|87 : Utah Building (Nowell x1888)||1909|
|88 : Panorama of exposition grounds across Lake Union (Nowell x2005)||1909|
|89 : Ornamental planters near Government Building (Nowell x2100)||1909|
|90: View down Washington Avenue, with Manufactures Building (Nowell x2109)||1909|
|91: King County Building and Music Pavilion (Nowell x2135)||1909|
|92, 93: Ornamental plantings near Agriculture Building (Nowell x2138, 2140)||1909|
|94: Igorrote pipe makers in exhibit (Nowell x2145)||1909|
|95: Ornamental plantings near Manufactures Building (Nowell x2149)||1909|
|96: Walkway alongside Music Pavilion (Nowell x2163)||1909|
|97: Ornamental planter and plantings around pond, with Manufactures Building (Nowell x2174)||1909|
|98: Formal gardens, with Manufactures Building in background (Nowell x2185)||1909|
Leather artwork with fringe (Nowell x2218)
Decorated with drawing and a poem about an abandoned claim in the Klondike Gold Rush, signed "M.H. Craig of Dawson"
|100: Group of men in front of Japan Exhibit Building (Nowell x2286)||1909|
|101: View of gardens and Music Pavilion (Nowell x2304)||1909|
|102: Auditorium and stairway of U.S. Government Building (Nowell x2311)||1909|
|103: Emergency Hospital and grounds showing horse-drawn ambulance (Nowell x2365)||1909|
|104: Court of Honor (Nowell x2402)||1909|
|105: Birds-eye view of gardens and Agriculture Building from King County Building (Nowell x2421)||1909|
|106: Rose garden and ornamental planters (Nowell x2423)||1909|
|107: Alaska Building and walkways (Nowell x2461)||1909|
|108: Court of Honor showing Alaska Monument, Cascades fountain, Geyser Basin and Alaska and European buildings (Nowell x2494)||1909|
|109: Birds-eye view of Hawaii Building with Cascade Fountain and Geyser Basin (Nowell x2495)||1909|
|110: Two white men and Igorrote man in car exhibit (Nowell x2609)||1909|
|111, 112: Diorama showing animals native to Canada in Canada Building(Nowell x2709, 2714)||1909|
|113: Court of Honor looking southeast towards Rainier vista, showing Geyser Basin, Cascades Fountain and Alaska Monument (Nowell x2751)||1909|
|114: Stairs of "rustic trestle" (log bridge spanning Great Northern Railroad tracks) and dirt trail into wooded area (Nowell x2782)||1909|
|115: Court of Honor showing Geyser Basin, ornamental plantings, European Building and Government Building (Nowell x2802)||1909|
Birds-eye view of Hoo-Hoo House with Lake Washington in the distance
Hoo-Hoo House was headquarters of the national fraternal organization of men engaged in the lumber trade known as the Hoo-Hoos.
|117, 118: Hawaiian Building and Cascades Fountain (Nowell x2848, 2849)||1909|
|119: Official Photographer for the AYPE Building (Nowell x2867)||1909|
|120: Group of children of different ethnicities (Nowell x3016)||1909|
|121: Garden and stairs to Music Pavilion (Nowell x3029)||1909|
Canadian military bugle and drum band in front of the Bastion replica
"6th D.C.O.R. Bugle Band"
|123: AYPE guard with two fawns in enclosure (Nowell x3116)||1909|
|124: Audience at Swedish choir event (Nowell x3139)||1909|
|125: Crowd listening to speaker at James J. Hill monument (Nowell x3178)||1909|
|126: James J. Hill monument (Nowell x3212)||1909|
|127: National Hostesses in front of the Alaska Building (Nowell x3234)||1909|
|128: Path through trees near water (Nowell x3336)||1909|
|129: Crowd around Alaska Monument in Court of Honor (Nowell x3346)||1909|
|130: Hawaiian Building from Alaska Building (Nowell x3350)||1909|
|132: Rainier Circle looking south, with Grand Truck Railway building (Nowell x3360)||1909|
|133: View of grounds showing Music Pavilion, King County Building and Machinery Building (Nowell x3361)||1909|
|134: Music Pavilion and grounds (Nowell x3362)||1909|
|135: Birds-eye view of gardens and Manufactures Building (Nowell x3364)||1909|
|136: Birds-eye view of gardens and Court of Honor (Nowell x3364)||1909|
|137: Birds-eye view of gardens and Agriculture Building (Nowell x3365)||1909|
|138: Grounds through trees (Nowell x3366)|
|139: Florist's Office in rustic log building (Nowell x3407)||1909|
|140: Display of Eskimo and Indian artifacts in Alaska Building (Nowell x3426)||1909|
|141 : Agriculture Building and formal garden (Nowell x3440)||1909|
|142: Manufactures Building and formal garden (Nowell x3444)||1909|
|143: Washington State Dairy Exhibit Building (Nowell x3491)||1909|
|144: Igorrote men and children and Masonic Lodge members in front of Igorrote hut (Nowell x3641)||1909|
|145 : Crowd on stairs and span of “rustic trestle” across Northern Pacific Railroad tracks (Nowell x3655)||1909|
|146, 147 : Official medal bearing AYPE emblem (Nowell x3727, unnumbered)||1909|
|148 : Building through trees (Nowell x3732)||1909|
|149 : Garden and path near Machinery Building (Nowell x3739)||1909|
|150 : Water lilies in exhibit (Nowell x3747)||1909|
|151 : Crowd on Pay Streak, showing Battle of Gettysburg building (Nowell x3802)||1909|
|152: Main entrance gate (Nowell x3842)||1909|
|153: Unveiling of William Henry Seward statue showing speaker and crowd (Nowell x3879)||1909|
William H. Seward and young Harriet May Baxter near the William Henry
Seward statue (Nowell x3882)
William H. Seward was the son of the late Secretary of State Seward honored by the statue. Harriet May Baxter was the granddaughter of Ex-Governor John H. McGraw of Washington, who officially unveiled the statue.
|155: Crowd at the foot of the Pay Streak on New England Day (Nowell x3898)||1909|
|156: Marcus Whitman statue (Nowell x4165)||1909|
|157: George Washington statue (Nowell x4185)||1909|
|158: Washington State Dairy Exhibit Building (Nowell x4200)||1909|
|159: President William Howard Taft and others seated on stage at event (Nowell x4288)||1909|
|160: First prize Holstein calf at stock show (Nowell x4578)||1909|
|161: Geyser basin and Manufactures Building (Nowell x4684)||1909|
|162: Canadian military marching band under Vancouver Arch (Nowell A-2)||1909|
| 163: Buildings and grounds
These negatives have "K" numbers and may not have been taken by Nowell.
Four 4" x 5" images on one negative (numbered K5-K8):
| 164: Buildings and grounds
These negatives have "K" numbers and may not have been taken by Nowell.
Four 4" x 5" images on one negative (numbered K9-K12):
| 165: Statues
These negatives have "K" numbers and may not have been taken by Nowell.
Four 4" x 5" images on one negative (numbered K17-K20):
|166: Sculptural decoration of dog and snowshoe (unnumbered)||1909|
|167: Buildings (unnumbered)
These images are unnumbered and may not have been taken by Nowell
Four 4" x 5" images on one negative:
|168: Administration Building (Nowell x320)||1909|
|169: Birds-eye view of grounds and Mount Rainier from Government Building (Nowell x1040)||1909|
|170: Union Circle and Japan Building (Nowell x1490)||1909|
|171: Music Pavilion with people on adjacent walkway (Nowell x1346)||1909|
|172: Igorrote man and woman in Igorrote Village (Nowell x1690)||1909|
|173: Washington State Building (Nowell x1698)||1909|
|174: Ornamental plantings near Manufactures Building (Nowell x2390)||1909|
|175: Birds-eye view of Alaska Monument and Court of Honor, probably from Government Building (Nowell x2748)||1909|
Historic six-mule Army wagon on exhibit in U.S. Government Building (Nowell
Two women with Caribou Bill's dog team in front of mural (Nowell
One of the women is "Miss Columbia" from Labrador, the other is a white actress
|178: Washington State Women’s Building (Nowell x4195)||1909|
Names and SubjectsReturn to Top
- Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (1909 : Seattle, Wash.)--Photographs
- Exhibitions--Washington (State)—Seattle--Photographs
- Igorrote Village (Seattle, Wash.)--Photographs
- Pay Streak (Seattle, Wash.)--Photographs
- Nowell, Frank H., 1864-1950 --Photographs
- Seattle (Wash.)
Form or Genre Terms
- Glass negatives