Washburn, Bradford (1910-2007)
Scope:
The Bradford Washburn collection consists of correspondence, professional material, photographs, printed material, journals and diaries, personal memorabilia, and other items. The papers are comprehensive, documenting his various careers as a mountaineer, explorer, cartographer, photographer, and director of the Boston Museum of Science. There is also a great deal of personal material, as well as items regarding Bradford Washburn’s wife and colleague, Barbara Washburn. Please note that this collection does not contain the negatives or prints for Washburn’s best-known landscape photographs, though there are numerous photographs in the collection (see below).

Correspondence in the collection is extensive. The letters date from Washburn’s student days at Groton Academy through his retirement as the head of the Boston Museum of Science and after. They also include the years of his studies at Harvard University and his work for the military during World War II. The chronological files date from 1926 to 1987; additional letters date up to the early 2000s. Along with the letters, there are survey materials, newspaper clippings, lectures, equipment lists, expedition plans and information, flight reports, diary entries, travel journals, and similar material. Prominent subjects include Washburn’s expeditions in Alaska, Nepal, the Grand Canyon, and elsewhere; the Arnold Arboretum; the National Geographic Society; the National Park Service; Smith College; the Boston Museum of Science; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and the Frederick Cook Society, with whom Washburn clashed over Cook’s fraudulent claim to have reached the summit of Mt. McKinley (also called Denali) first, in 1906. Notable correspondents include Gilbert Grosvenor, Hamilton Rice, Eddie Bauer, Lowell Thomas, Kermit Roosevelt, Charles Sumner Bird, Thomas Barbour, Bradford Bachrach, Ansel Adams, Camille Paglia, Ted Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Yousuf Karsh, Alan Shepard, Ed King, William Bulger, Emory Kolb, William Egan, Thomas P. O’Neill, and Henry Cabot Lodge.

Professional material in the collection consists of numerous files pertaining to various projects, organizations, expeditions, museums, and other subjects. Prominent subjects include Alaska; Washburn’s work with the U.S. Army, developing high-altitude gear; the Squam Lake Science Center (1960s); mapping Mt. Everest (1991-1995); the Center for Creative Photography; the Museum of Science (1947-1990s); Canada; mountain and aerial photography; exploration; and cartography. This material includes several maps, as well as pieces of equipment, such as Washburn’s protractor, a laser-operated steadia transit, and a laser prism used to measure the height of Mt. Everest.

Photographs in the collection primarily consist of personal photos. Images include Washburn’s family (dating from the 19th and 20th centuries) and friends, as well as photos of Barbara Washburn’s childhood and family. Photos of Washburn span his lifetime, and include several images from his early mountain climbing expeditions. There are some professional photographs of Mt. McKinley (Denali), the Grand Canyon, the Boston Museum of Science, and other subjects. In addition, the papers include some prints of photos by the Kolb brothers, dating from the 1900s and 1920s; these include images of the Southwest , Theodore Roosevelt, and Captain John Hance. The collection also contains several of Washburn’s own cameras and optical equipment, including Washburn’s first camera, a Kodak Brownie.

Printed material in the collection includes numerous items (mainly newspaper clippings and magazines) regarding the Washburns, dating from the 1920s to the 1990s. These include several interviews with the Washburns. The collection also includes numerous programs and pamphlets regarding various conferences, lectures, award ceremonies, and dinners attended by the Washburns.

Diaries and journals in the collection primarily consist of Washburn’s expedition diaries. These include his trips to Europe and the Alps as a young man (1926); Mt. Crillon (1934); the Yukon (1935); Mt. Lucania (1937); and later expeditions. Also present are Barbara Washburn’s Alaska diaries, covering her trips to Mt. Bertha (1940), Mt. McKinley (1947) and Mt. Hayes (1951). There are also 54 daily planners kept by Bradford Washburn, dating from 1954 to 1997.

Personal memorabilia in the collection contains several items regarding Washburn’s family history. These include scrapbooks with family letters and other items, from the 19th and 20th centuries; a family Bible from 1885; some family journals from the 1890s; photographs, letters, and other items pertaining to Sherwood Washburn (Bradford’s brother); and the Washburn family coat of arms. Items pertaining to the Washburns include baby books for Bradford and Barbara; a school notebook by Barbara; and Bradford’s yearbooks from the Groton School and Harvard University. The collection also includes several awards, honorary degrees, certificates, and other honors bestowed upon the Washburns (as well as several academic hoods worn by Bradford while being presented with honorary degrees). These items include awards from the American Geographic Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, and the Royal Geographic Society of England; and honorary degrees from the University of Alaska, the University of Massachusetts, Boston University, Suffolk University, Northeastern University, Babson College, Boston College, Colby College, Curry College, Simmons College, and Harvard Business School.

Other material in the collection includes manuscripts of speeches and talks written by Washburn and delivered at various ceremonies and lectures; and some 16mm color films, documenting the construction of the Boston Museum of Science and various improvements to the building (1949-1976).
Notable Figures
1. Washburn, Bradford, 1910-2007
Associated Subjects
1. Women's Studies Collections -- Science and Health Professions Subject Guide
2. Science Subject Guide
3. Public Affairs Subject Guide
4. Photography Subject Guide