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Evelyn Butler and George Dale Photographs and Papers, 1934-1982

Identifier: PCA-306

Content Description

This photograph collection documents the activities of Drs. George Dale and Evelyn Butler as they traveled and worked in Alaska from 1934-1950. The majority of the photos cover the time period from 1939-1942. The collection, which includes several home movies, is stored as PCA 306.

In 1934, upon finishing their doctoral studies at the University of Iowa, husband and wife, George Dale and Evelyn Butler came to Alaska to work for the Alaska Native Service. As educational supervisors, they traveled extensively throughout Alaska, sometimes together and sometimes alone, to check on teachers and school activities in the remote Alaskan villages.

The Butler/Dale collection provides a superb insight into the Alaskan Native cultures in pre-World War II Alaska. Although the photographic subjects cover all of Alaska, most of the views are concentrated in the northern, southwestern and Yukon River regions. As the principal photographer, George Dale combined his interests in both the native culture and photography to produce this unique documentary on Alaska. Primary subjects include subsistence activities, handicraft demonstrations, village scenes, social functions, town meetings, potlatches, ceremonial dances, school activities and sweat lodges. The portraits of the village residents are particularly interesting as some of the individuals are identified.

The first 940 photographs are listed according to George Dale's description and numbering system. They have two numbers: the photographer number and the negative number. Provided by George Dale, the photographer number is written on the photo envelope. The negative number (PCA 306), which is penciled in the upper right-hand front corner, was provided by the Alaska State Library and should be used when ordering duplicate photographs. The first 940 photographs were selected and organized by both Evelyn Butler and George Dale, probably for their exceptional quality. The Alaska State Library organized the remaining 1,900 views into broad subject categories and series groupings. The series list that follows this introduction also serves as a table of contents.

In 1942, George Dale coordinated the Aleut evacuation from Atka. During this transition, he photographed the evacuees leaving Atka and arriving in various southeast Alaska relocation camps. The 90 photos that comprise the Aleut evacuation provide a rare insight into the relocation process and the daily lives of the Aleut refugees.

The approximately 2,900 images are organized by photographer, type and location or, if not known, subject. Captions by George Dale and notes provided by other authorities are labelled with their initials. Peter Corey, curator of Sheldon Jackson Museum in Sitka, and anthropologist Frederica de Laguna, surveyed all or part of the collection in early 1993. Additional identification was supplied at the May 1993 Conference of Tlingit Tribes and Clans in Klukwan. For more information about the collection, please see Curator of Collections.


  • 1934-1982
  • Majority of material found within 1939-1942



Conditions Governing Access

The collection is available for viewing; however, because of its fragile condition, the photographs may not be photocopied. Two photo exhibits involving a case study of child abuse and neglect are altered in accordance with the Right of Privacy, Constitutional Provisions, Constitution of Alaska, Article 1, Section 22.

Biographical / Historical


1900 Born on February 17 to David Curtis Dale and Mary Luella (Backus) Dale in Denver, Colorado.

1922 B.A. University of Denver (Colorado).

1922-31 Teacher, counselor, principal of various schools in Colorado.

1932 M.A. University of Iowa

1932-35 Principal, Mason City High School, Iowa

1933 Ph.D University of Iowa. Married Evelyn I. Butler, June 6th.

1935-44 Supervisor of Education, Alaska Native Service.

1942 Alaska Native Service coordinator of Aleut evacuation from Atka.

1944-50 Director of Education, Alaska Native Service, Juneau, Alaska.

1951-53 Community Education Advisor and Specialist, International Activities, Department of Interior, Washington, D.C.

1954-67 Numerous assignments with the U.S. Operations Mission, Haiti, Honduras and Paraguay.

1957 Co-wrote ALASKA, THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE with Evelyn Butler.

1967-69 Director, Escola Americana, American Schools, Brazil.

1970-1989 Retired in El Toro, California with his wife, Evelyn Butler.

1989 Died January 1.


1903 Born November 25th in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine.

1926 B.A. Bates College.

1926-30 Head, English Department, Rockland High School, Rockland Maine.

1931 M.A. University of Maine

1931-33 Assistant, Child Welfare and Education, University of Iowa. PhD. University of Iowa

1933 June 6, married George A. Dale. Children: Patricia B. Marvin Edythe Butler-Dale Hirasawa

1936-44 Supervisor of Elementary Education, Alaska Native Service, Juneau, Alaska.

1944-50 Director of Social Welfare, Alaska Native Service.

1957 Co-wrote ALASKA, THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE with George Dale.

1954-1970 Numerous teaching assignments with American School Service in Haiti, Honduras, Paraguay and Brazil.

1970-92 Retired and moved to El Toro, California with her husband, George Dale.

1992 Moved to Lake Forest, Illinois, to live with her daughter, Edythe Hirasawa.


5 Linear Feet (12 boxes) : approximately 2,900 photographs; 41 film reels; manuscript materials.

Language of Materials


Existence and Location of Copies

Photographs digitized and available for viewing via Alaska's Digital Archives: 0017, 0019, 0021, 0027, 0033-0035, 0037, 0044-0045, 0051, 0054, 0055-0056, 0061, 0063, 0069, 0074, 0075-0076, 0087, 0095, 0101-0102, 0112, 0114, 0129, 0147, 0154-0156, 0161, 0165-0166, 0170-0171, 0174, 0178, 0184, 0194a, 0196-0197, 0219, 0227, 0229, 0234-0235, 0241, 0256, 0271, 0280, 0318, 0320, 0323, 0330, 0337, 0341, 0344, 0365, 0383, 0392-0393, 0403, 0405, 0407, 0409, 0416, 0422, 0429, 0435, 0456, 0482, 0488, 0489-0490, 0497, 0501, 0507, 0529, 0531, 0533, 0545, 0562, 0569, 0581, 0585, 0592, 0594-0595, 0602, 0604, 0612, 0614, 0616-0617, 0620, 0644, 0651, 0654, 0664, 0671, 0675, 0704, 0712, 0717, 0744, 0760, 0776-0783, 0793, 0797, 0809, 0811, 0816, 0821, 0892, 0893, 0895, 0898, 0899, 0906-0907, 0915, 0917-0919, 0922, 0925, 0928, 0973, 1028-1030, 1032-1034, 1037, 1040-1041, 1044-1047, 1049, 1051-1053, 1056, 1061, 1063-1065, 1072, 1078, 1091-1094, 1096-1097, 1099, 1101, 1103-1105, 1154, 1203-1208, 1249-1250, 1253, 1259B-1261, 1599-1600, 1733, 1850, 1930, 1983, 2170, 2265, 2266, 2426-2429, 2447, 2810-2813, 2816, 2818-2820, 2824-2825, 2829, 2832-2834, 2836, 2838-2839, 2841-2842, 2844, 2848

Processing Information

The first 940 photos are listed according to George Dale's descriptions and numbering system. Because the remaining views were received unorganized, Alaska Historical Collections staff sorted the photographs by series and assigned subject headings. Contact prints were made from loose negatives. Negative envelopes with photographers' notes were saved (Box 11), but all others discarded. Additional background information furnished by other authorities have been incorporated into the listing. In 2003, portions of the collection were moved into refrigerated storage.

Finding Aid for the Evelyn Butler and George Dale Photographs and Papers, 1934-1982
In Progress
Processed By: India Spartz & Marilyn Kwock August 1992-July 1993; ArchivesSpace Finding Aid by: Daniel Cornwall
2019 April
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Repository Details

Part of the Alaska State Library - Historical Collections Finding Aids Repository

PO Box 110571
Juneau AK 99811-0571 US
907-465-2151 (Fax)