Collection PHOTO 78 - Photographs from Tongareva (Penrhyn) Cook Islands

Canoes in the Fiji Islands Back of 01 Five U.S. soldiers standing in front of an aeroplane labelled Swift Arrow, Comanding General, Pac... U.S. aeroplane on sand with viewing tower behind (possibly in Penhryn) U.S. aeroplane "Swift Arrow" on sand with viewing tower behind (possibly Penhryn) Man wearing a white hat and white shirt on board a yacht Back of 05a Terra and Puna, the village Belles. Two Cook Island women wearing grass skirts Back of 06a Portrait of Charles Powell in uniform.
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Identity area

Reference code

AU PMB PHOTO 78

Title

Photographs from Tongareva (Penrhyn) Cook Islands

Date(s)

  • 1942-1947 (Creation)

Level of description

Collection

Extent and medium

119 black and white photographs

Context area

Name of creator

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Scope and content

These photographs were taken by Charles S. Powell, an American doctor sent to Tongareva (Penrhyn) around 1942, which is the setting for all the images. After construction of the airstrip was completed shortly thereafter, the U.S. Army left roughly 10 men, including Powell, behind for a few years. During his stay (2-3 years), Powell delivered many babies, helped to build a church and a boat.

The collection includes digital copies of black and white photographs, many of which have hand-written labels on the back (also digitized). Digital versions were created by a third-party organization for the PMB based in the United States of America.

Charles Powell had access to equipment, and is said to have developed the photographs himself, possibly with an x-ray machine. Several images are duplicates under different exposures and settings, etc.

Robert Dean Frisbie and his daughter Florence “Johnny” Frisbie are pictured in at least one photograph, and Charles Powell is mentioned in Frisbie’s book Miss Ulysses of Puka-Puka (1948:230).

Photographs include portraits of Powell and the other servicemen, including Powell’s “hut-mate” Roger Roper, as well as Dr Ngai Tou, a local doctor and graduate from Fiji Medical School. The collection includes photographs of village scenery, women weaving, an outrigger canoe, the small hospital setup, the Catholic church (Powell calls the Catholic church the the London Missionary Sunday School & Church), a picnic celebration, and processional dances. A few images include the aeroplane “Kangaroo Kate”, as well as a visit from New Zealand Prime Minister Peter Fraser in December 1944.
The large schooner “Tiare Taporo”, built for island trade is featured in several photographs, captained by Viggo Rasmussen, Phillip Woonton, and Andy Thomson between 1918 and 1945. In many of the labels on the photographs, he is referred to as Captain Powell. The home in Penrhyn of “Papa” Viggo Rasmussen, a Danish captain that spent much of his life around the Cook Islands and French Polynesia, is also the subject of a photograph.

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See individual items.

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Arizona, U.S.A.

Existence and location of copies

Access this title at PMB Member Libraries or by purchasing it directly from the Bureau: http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/pambu/accessing.php

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Notes area

Note

The digital object attached to this record has been re-sized for web delivery. Please contact the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau (email: pambu@anu.edu.au) if you wish to view a higher resolution copy of this document.

Note

The custodian of this collection, Powell’s granddaughter, has posted many of the photos on the Tongareva Soasoa Club’s facebook page. The photos, with comments attached by facebook users, may be of interest for researchers looking for additional information about their content.

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