Luther Holbrook Collection
[Luther G. Holbrook--home movies], 2269
Creator(s)Luther G. Holbrook
Credit: Luther Holbrook Collection, Northeast Historic Film. Crew on board schooner Bowdoin off the shores of Labrador, summer, 1934.
Credit: Luther Holbrook Collection, Northeast Historic Film. Eskimo skins a seal, Labrador, 1934.
Primary Format and Extent
film (1,750 ft.) : si., b&w ; 16 mm.
Collection Date Range
The Luther Holbrook Collection contains 4 reels of 16 mm. film shot by Luther Holbrook. Footage depicts the 1934 voyage of the schooner Bowdoin from Portland, Maine, to Labrador and Newfoundland, Canada, offering views of coastal Maine, lighthouses, ice floes, ice bergs, fishing, sled dogs and wildlife. On board footage depicts the crew at work, sea birds, and the landscape and seascapes as the crew traveled. Highlights of the collection include footage of Admiral Donald MacMillan in Nain, Labrador, the Inuit village where he would later fund the MacMillan-Moravian School for the Inuit; and Bobbie, guide to the scientific party left for ten days in the Button Islands, hunting and skinning seals. Note: The film in this collection has some severe emulsion damage. Viewing can be difficult at times, but content is not diminished.
Luther Gardner Holbrook (1912-1979) was born in Walpole, MA, and graduated from Bowdoin College in 1934. He obtained his master's degree in business from Harvard in 1936. After becoming assistant dean at Harvard Business School, he joined T. Mellon & Sons in Pittsburgh, where he eventually became a vice president and governor. He also served as a vice president of Richard K. Mellon and Sons, serving as an advisor to the Mellon family until his death. He served on many community and corporate boards both in Pittsburgh and the Blue Hill, Maine, area, where he and his wife had a summer home. In the summer of 1934 Holbrook joined other recent Bowdoin graduates on the Arctic summer cruise on the Bowdoin with Admiral Donald Macmillan. To learn more about that cruise, see "The Arctic Schooner Bowdoin: A Biography" by Virginia Thorndike, a chapter of which is devoted to the 1934 cruise (in donor file). WorldCat On this 4,500 mile three month cruise to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Labrador and Baffin Island, Macmillan discovered what is now named on nautical charts Bowdoin Harbor in Northern Labrador. The main ornithological goal was study of the group of islands in the middle of the Hudson Strait known as "The Buttons" to the Eskimos, the Putjak or "Stepping Stones." Study of plants was at Cape Mugford, Labrador. Dr. Alfred Gross of Bowdoin College was the ornithologist, and Dr. David Potter of Clark University was the botanist on board. Schooner Bowdoin is an 88 ft. gaff rigged two-masted schooner that was designed by William Hand and launched in 1921 at Hodgdon Brothers Shipyard, East Boothbay, Maine. She was built to withstand pack ice on northern voyages. Bowdoin is the only auxiliary schooner ever built in the US specifically for Arctic exploration and the only surviving historic vessel in the US associated with Arctic exploration (except the nuclear submarine Nautilus). She made 26 voyages to the Arctic between 1921 and 1954, and served as a US Navy patrol ship in World War II. Except for the time as a US Navy ship, she was captained by Adm. Donald Macmillan until he retired in 1954. Bowdoin logged more than 200,000 miles, with more than 300 crewmembers who gathered information on Arctic ornithology, biology, anthropology, geology, meteorology, and oceanography. Thereafter it was housed at Mystic Seaport, then restored by the Schooner Bowdoin Association, and sailed out of Camden, Maine, as a charter boat. She was turned over to the Maine Maritime Academy in Castine in 1989. She was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989 and has since sailed to Labrador, Greenland, Newfoundland and other Arctic sites as a training vessel for the Maine Maritime Academy. Holbrook Collection resources The Arctic Schooner Bowdoin: A Biography, by Virginia Thorndike, 1995 WorldCat Arctic Odyssey: The Life of Rear Admiral Donald B. MacMillan, by Everett S. Allen, 1962 WorldCat The Bowdoin College Peary MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center houses the Donald MacMillan collection of over 5,000 black and white photographs, as well as glass lantern and 35 mm. slides, motion picture films, and objects he collected in Greenland, Labrador, and Baffin Island. More information can be found at
Special Collections and Archives, at the Hawthorne-Longfellow Library at Bowdoin College houses the MacMillan papers, as well as journals and diaries of some participants of various expeditions.
An online exhibit using photographs of the Bowdoin (including one of the 1934 expedition) posted by the Peary Macmillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center can be found at
Facts about the history of the Schooner Bowdoin can be found at: and
There is an obituary of Holbrook from the Bowdoin College magazine in the donor file.
Northeast Historic Film
The Collection is open for research.
Condition Governing Reproduction and Use
Authorization to reuse and/or reproduce must be obtained from Northeast Historic Film. See http://www.oldfilm.org/research for more information.
Encoded archival description
Items in this collection: 4
Showing 1 - 4 of 4:
1) [Luther G. Holbrook—home movies] Reel 1
Views of the schooner Bowdoin tied to the dock in Portland, Maine, June 16, 1934. Many visitors are on board, and the dock is crowded with visitors and family members of the crew on de...more
2) [Luther G. Holbrook—home movies] Reel 2
Views of a rocky shoreline with wave crashing over the rocks. In Battle Harbour, Newfoundland and Labrador, a small iceberg has been towed in, and pieces are hauled up onto the dock wi...more
3) [Luther G. Holbrook—home movies] Reel 3
View of Inuit at the wheel of the Bowdoin (perhaps the same as seen in Reel 2). Views of a tent camp with Inuit families and dogs occupying the tents on a rocky shoreline. Dogs are s...more
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