Friday, April 02, 2010

Eric A. Hegg Photographs: documentation of the Klondike and Alaska gold rushes

Eric A. Hegg Photographs

Photographs documenting the Klondike and Alaska gold rushes from 1897 - 1901. Images include depictions of frontier life in Dawson City, the Yukon Territory, and Skagway and Nome, Alaska.

Eric A. Hegg who was born in Sweden , arrived in the Puget Sound region in 1888. Settling in Whatcom County , he opened photographic studios both in New Whatcom and Fairhaven . Both businesses were probably managed in part by his brother Peter L. Hegg

In the fall of 1897, after hearing of the gold strikes in the Yukon Territories , he joined the thousands of gold seekers heading north. Accompanied by a group of men from Bellingham Bay , he traveled by steamboat up the Inside Passage through British Columbia to his destination in Alaska. Finding his passage further north closed due to the freezeup on the Yukon River, he settled temporarily in Dyea, Alaska which was the jumping off point for the Chilkoot Trail to Dawson . Here he opened a small photography studio. Later, during the winter of 1897-1898, he established a second, more substantial, studio in Skagway. The photographer Per Edward (Ed) Larss who had arrived in Skagway in March of 1898, was employed by Hegg to assist in documenting the huge migration to the Yukon known as "the Stampede". For a short time, he and Larss made frequent trips to the Chilkoot Pass following the footsteps of the thousands of Klondikers who wound their way up the Dyea River to the Golden Staircase and over over into British Columbia. They also documented scenes along the White Pass Trail. Along the trails they recorded the sail driven sleds, temporary tent towns, piles of snow covered food caches and the many hardships endured by the Klondikers as they neared their goal.

The first thing that will strike visitors when they go to the University of Washington Libraries collection of Eric A. Hegg's photography is the photograph "Miss Gracie Robinson, Yukon, 1898" that appears on the homepage. She's wearing an intriguing smile, a garment of furs, cinched tight at the waist, a rifle over her shoulder, and an elaborate headpiece that looks birdlike and completes the outfit.  The photo was taken in a studio by Hegg, and there are no notes to say whether she was playing dress up or was really going to be joining in the gold rush.  Eric Hegg documented the Klondike and Alaska gold rushes, and the digital collection of his photographs held by the University of Washington Libraries numbers 730 images, out of over 2100 in the entire physical Hegg collection.  The collection can be browsed in its entirety, or by subject.  

Helpfully, there are even "Sample Searches" given on the right hand side of the page.  Some of the suggestions given include "Mining", "Transportation Methods", "Women of the Klondike", and "Disasters". [KMG]

About the Database

Selection, research and descriptive metadata for the Eric A. Hegg Photographs were completed by Kristin Kinsey in 1999. Not all the photographs from the collection were included in this database: The database consists of 730 digital images chosen from a group of over 2100 photographic prints. The photographs were scanned in grayscale using a Microtek Scanmaker 9600L and saved in .jpg format. Some manipulation of the images was done to present the clearest possible digital image. The scanned images were then linked with descriptive data using the UW CONTENT program. The original collection resides in the UW Libraries Special Collections Division as the Eric A. Hegg Collection. PH Coll 274.

Via / From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2010.

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