National Anthropological Archives

Robert Joseph Flaherty photographs of Arctic peoples, circa 1914-1922

Collection ID:
Flaherty, Robert Joseph, 1884-1951
circa 1914-1922
Physical Description:
1 Print
13 Prints
possibly aquatint

Scope and Contents note
Scope and Contents note
Photographs relating to Arctic peoples that were part of a set made in connection with Robert Joseph Flaherty's documentary, Nanook of the North. They consist primarily of portraits of Arctic peoples, as well as images of a kayak in Hudson Bay, an man in the ice fields, and a close up image of a husky dog.

Biographical/Historical note
Biographical/Historical note
Robert Joseph Flaherty (1884-1951) was born in Iron Mountain, Michigan, and spent his childhood traveling with his family to the mining regions in Michigan, Minnesota, and Canada. Formally educated at Upper Canada College and Michigan College of Mines, he mostly studied geology and engineering subjects. After leaving the Michigan College of Mines and marrying Frances Hubbard, Flaherty settled in Port Arthur (Thunder Bay), working as a surveyor and prospector across Canada. His father introduced him to Sir William Mackenzie, who was building a trans-Canada railroad (now the Canadian National Railway), and Mackenzie commissioned Flaherty to study the Nastapoka Islands. During this expedition (1910-1911), Flaherty developed a relationship with the Great Whale Inuit Camp. He completed three more expeditions (1911-1912, 1913-1914, and 1915-1916) for Mackenzie, during which he took numerous photographs and filmed the Inuit during his later expeditoins to Baffin Island and Belcher Islands. In 1920, Flaherty met Captain Thierry Mallet of Revillon Freres and convinced him to support a filmmaking expedition to the company's sub-arctic fur trading post, Port Harrison on Cape Dufferin. By the 1920-1921 expedition to Port Harrison (Inukjuak), Flaherty was focusing almost exclusively on film documentation, and most of his photographic work appears oriented toward the production of the film. Ultimately, Flaherty produced the first commercially successful feature length documentary film and the pioneering ethnographic film, Nanook of of the North (1922).

Sarah Ganderup
Custodial History note
The photographs were collected by Rose Grayson and Charles Gelb, an assistant editor for Robert joseph Flaherty's film. They were donated by Rose and Gloria Grayson, 1990.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access note
The collection is open for research.
Access to the collection requires an appointment.
Conditions Governing Use note
Contact the repository for terms of use.
Preferred Citation note
Photo Lot 90-17, Robert Joseph Flaherty photographs of Arctic peoples, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution

Location of Other Archival Materials
Location of Other Archival Materials
Columbia University's Rare Book and Manuscript Library holds the Robert Joseph Flaherty papers, 1884-1970.
Location of Other Archival Materials
Material relating to Flaherty held in the Archives of American Art in the Lotte Jacobi Place printed materials and the Preservation and utilization of documentary film footage shot by Robert Flaherty of John Howard Benson : typescript, 1978.

More Information
Local Call Number(s)
Local Call Number(s)
NAA Photo Lot 90-17

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Arctic peoples Cultural Context Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Eskimos Cultural Context Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Indians of North America -- Subarctic Cultural Context Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
National Anthropological Archives
Museum Support Center
4210 Silver Hill Road
Suitland, Maryland 20746