AU PMB PHOTO 78
- 1942-1947 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
119 black and white photographs
Name of creator
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
Content and structure area
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 (except 001 - annotated 'Fiji Islands'). 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.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
System of arrangement
Order as found
Conditions of access and use area
Conditions governing access
Available for reference
Conditions governing reproduction
Language of material
Script of material
Language and script notes
Physical characteristics and technical requirements
See individual items.
Allied materials area
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Access this title at PMB Member Libraries or by contacting the Bureau directly: http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/pambu/accessing.php
Related units of description
The digital object attached to this record has been re-sized for web delivery. Please contact the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau (email: email@example.com) if you wish to view a higher resolution copy of this document.
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.
Keywords: World War Two, World War 2, World War II, WWII, WW2, W.W.II, W.W.2, Second World War, 2nd World War, Pacific War
Subject access points
Name access points
- Powell, Charles S. (Subject)
Genre access points
Description control area
Rules and/or conventions used
Dates of creation revision deletion
Digital object metadata