UW Today

February 3, 2017

New digital collection from UW Libraries: Glaciers and Landforms

News and Information

Thousands of photos of glaciers, volcanoes, rivers and other natural phenomena are now easily viewed by the public through the University of Washington Libraries.

ridged ice

A close-up of sérac ridged ice on the surface of Alaska’s Columbia Glacier in 1975.Austin Post

UW Libraries’ Special Collections this fall released a new Glacier and Landforms Photograph Collection. The collection is designed to provide online access to photos of glaciers, geology and related subjects. At launch, the collection includes material from three photographers, and more will be added over time.

Don Easterbrook, professor emeritus of geology at Bellingham’s Western Washington University, donated his photos and also sponsored the archive’s creation. His photos include several from Mount St. Helens, where he took photos before and after its 1980 eruption.

The collection also includes a selection of 14,000 photos by Austin Post, a photographer and mountaineer who worked for the U.S. Geological Survey and lived on Vashon Island. He documented many glaciers, including taking hundreds of aerial photos documenting Alaska’s Columbia Glacier between 1961 and 1998.

ribbons of black lava

Black, ropy surface of pahoehoe lava in Mauna Ulu, Hawaii.Don Easterbrook

The third photographer now included is California geologist and pilot John Shelton. He learned to fly in the early 1940s and took aerial photos that document geological principles all over the world and published a popular textbook, “Geology Illustrated.”

“These are very large collections related to glaciers and other landforms,” said curator Nicolette Bromberg, who manages visual materials for UW Libraries Special Collections. She traveled to Shelton’s former home and brought back boxes of his photos for preservation and storage at the UW.

“Some of the photos are also really beautiful; you could put a frame around them,” Bromberg said.

The new digital collection offers just a selection of the thousands of photos now stored and available at the library. The images can be used for textbooks, documentary films, courses, research projects, articles or other purposes.

UW Libraries will continue to expand the collection with other material from its physical archives, including earlier photos by geologist Stewart Lowther of the University of Puget Sound, geological engineer Bailey Willis, California geologist Harold W. Fairbanks and late UW geology professor Peter Misch.

The new asset joins other UW digital collections that provide library patrons with access to rare and unique materials that are mainly from the focus areas of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.

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For more information, contact Bromberg at nxb@uw.edu or 206-685-2968.

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