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Librarium Home > People > F. H. Nowell

Frank H. Nowell

Born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on February 19, 1864, Frank H. Nowell was one of six sons born to Thomas and Lydia Ham Nowell. After a New England childhood, he headed to the Midwest, where he worked on a family ranch that once played host to the performers of Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show. By age 21, Mr. Nowell joined his father in Juneau, Alaska to work for the highly successful Nowell Gold Mining Company. During his tenure in Alaska, he worked in various capacities as a wholesale representative, accountant, agent, and manager. While vacationing in Florida, Mr. Nowell met Detroit native Elizabeth Helen Davis. They married in 1894 and had a daughter named Dorothy.

The young family moved to California, where Mr. Nowell served as his father's West Coast agent. It is during this time he became interested in photography, a passion that increased significantly when he returned to Alaska, where he settled briefly in Nome to work for the Ames Mercantile Company. In 1900, the Mr. Nowell was on the move again, this time to Teller, Alaska, where he opened a regional branch of Miner's Supply Company. Shortly thereafter, he was reunited with his wife, daughter, and his camera equipment. Fascinated by the landscape and multiethnic residents, Mr. Nowell immersed himself in the Alaskan way of life, seeking to chronicle its people, culture and traditions. He opened a studio in Nome, where he produced panoramic images of such famous cities as Nome, Juneau, and Fairbanks, as well as lesser-known localities including Candle City, Cape Prince of Wales, and Metlakatla. He also photographed railroads, steamships, canneries, and mining operations. Eskimos and Native Americans were captured leading herds of reindeer and hunting with their dogsled teams. His favorite cameras were Eastman Kodaks fitted with Goerz lenses.


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