“Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat…”

December 13, 2011

The holiday season is fast approaching and mailmen and women across the country will be taking to the streets to deliver packages. They are known for delivering through even the harshest of weather and in Point Barrow, Alaska that is no exception. This image from 1897 depicts a US mailman and his sled dog team traversing the snow covered landscape of Alaska to make deliveries.

Caption from the image: George Tilden, 1st Mate, who brought the mail 4000 miles overland; five months en route

The photograph was taken by Edward Avery McIlhenny, an ornithologist who ventured to North Alaska in 1897.  His main goal was to collect birds and mammals at Point Barrow for the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, but he also made collections for the Penn Museum.  He deposited 1589 ethnographic and archaeological objects at the University of Pennsylvania, for which he received payment of $3,500.  He also gave the museum his artifact ledger, in which he recorded each object, its ‘artifacts provenience’, English and native name, and descriptions of how it was made or used. The Penn Museum Archives currently houses McIlhenny’s photographs from the trip, as well as letters and his ledger.