Magic Lantern Slides

A Lantern Slide Close-Up. Caption reads: Climbing Mt. Lyell, Yosemite Nat. Pk. (Photo by Farquar). This slide came from Francis P. Farquhar. It is probably from the 1910-20s.

A Lantern Slide Close-Up. Caption reads: Climbing Mt. Lyell, Yosemite Nat. Pk. (Photo by Farquar). This slide came from Francis P. Farquhar. It is probably from the 1910-20s.

The magic lantern was an early type of image projection, used since the 17th century, to show painted or printed materials for entertainment. With the invention of the photograph, it was adapted in the 19th century to project photographic materials to the masses.

Mountaineers would often employ this method to illustrate lectures on their mountain pursuits. Many of the early American Alpine Club annual dinners included lectures and talks that were "illustrated by lantern views."

Excerpt from the 1911 By-Laws & Register Book: Notes from the Eighth Annual Meeting held in Boston, 1909

Excerpt from the 1911 By-Laws & Register Book: Notes from the Eighth Annual Meeting held in Boston, 1909

Lantern slide projectors are the apparatus used to display the images. We have three in the AAC Library. They are currently on exhibit (until February 2018) in the American Mountaineering Center.

On display at the American Mountaineering Center in Golden, Colorado (until Feb. 2018).

On display at the American Mountaineering Center in Golden, Colorado (until Feb. 2018).

These projectors date from approximately 1900 to 1930s. A 1950s slide projector is also on display with a 35mm glass slide. The many glass lantern slides on display date from 1890-1950. Most are from the American Alpine Club Archives, with a few from the Colorado Mountain Club Archives. You can see mountain scenes, cabins, and instructional slides.

This is one of the projectors in our collection. This page is from a 1911 Bausch & Lomb catalog, which can be viewed in its entirety here on HathiTrust.

This is one of the projectors in our collection. This page is from a 1911 Bausch & Lomb catalog, which can be viewed in its entirety here on HathiTrust.

Movember Mustache Study

For centuries scientists have been trying to determine if there was a correlation between great explorers and great mustaches. Recently, the American Alpine Club Library was able to assist researchers from the Institute of Modern Mustaches (IMM) as they set out to try to establish if such correlation exists and discover how mustaches may enhance exploratory potential in humans. The library was able to assist in this research by providing access to our extensive historical resources of journals, books, diaries, photographs and lantern slides. Earlier this month the IMM shared some preliminary findings with us and in honor of “Movember” we would like to share those findings and some of the photographs and lantern slides that were used for this research.

This photograph from 1925 is an example of the variety of mustaches that exist in nature.

This photograph from 1925 is an example of the variety of mustaches that exist in nature.

Mustaches have adorned the faces of terrestrial and nautical explorers for centuries. Many sailors have stated that a good mustache can enhance dead reckoning abilities; while others when sporting a full mustache felt so confident that they wouldn't even bother to bring their sextant along for the voyage.

Mustaches have adorned the faces of terrestrial and nautical explorers for centuries. Many sailors have stated that a good mustache can enhance dead reckoning abilities; while others when sporting a full mustache felt so confident that they wouldn't even bother to bring their sextant along for the voyage.

While examining our collection, Dr. Schnurrbart, head researcher at the IMM, was quick to realize that many mustachioed mountaineers in our photos were accompanied by an ice axe and set out to test a theory that the two items, mustaches and ice axes, enhanced mountaineering performance. "After a series of tests, we began to notice that subjects with a mustache and using a piolet outperformed their counterparts by more than the sum advantage of only a mustache or a piolet. There appears to be some currently unexplainable phenomenon in which they work in tandem to increase mental performance and decrease physical fatigue," noted Dr. Schnurrbart.

Early analysis of the data gathered seems to support the idea that mustaches improve outdoor effectiveness. "What we have seen thus far is that the mustachioed explorer has consistently out performed his/her non-mustachioed counterpart or at the very least performed better than their pre-expedition preparations would have led us to believe they were capable of," said Dr. Schnurrbart.

The above chart is a preliminary dataset from the Institute of Modern Mustaches that charts the amount of significant exploratory achievements accomplished over the past two centuries. This includes but not limited to polar, nautical and alpine achievements.

The above chart is a preliminary dataset from the Institute of Modern Mustaches that charts the amount of significant exploratory achievements accomplished over the past two centuries. This includes but not limited to polar, nautical and alpine achievements.

Surveys and interviews conducted by the IMM revealed that climbers and alpinists also felt more comfortable when being belayed by a mustachioed belayer. One interviewee commented, "When my belayer has a mustache I feel like I can really push my limits, you know? I'm not thinking about what happens if I come off the wall because I know my belayer has me."

Dr. Schnurrbart is excited about their early findings but was quick to add, "We are still very early in our research. Though the results seem to support our hypothesis that mustaches have a positive effect on performance in the outdoors there are still many variables to test. Tweed for example was very prevalent when many of humankind's greatest exploratory achievements took place. So that's something we must look into."

Rudolph Aemmer084.jpg

***Disclaimer: the above study is fictional and was created as a backdrop to share some of our photos, lantern slides, and nitrate film negatives with you. To the AAC Library's knowledge there is no correlation between having a mustache and outdoor performance. Do not trust someone to be a good belayer just because they have a mustache. 

Check it out

The American Alpine Club Library isn’t just home to historic mountaineering ephemera but also maintains thousands of circulating items. As AAC members you have access to these items by logging into your library profile at: booksearch.americanalpineclub.org and requesting them through the “Get It Now!” feature. Books will be mailed to the mailing address you have on file (so make sure it’s current), all you have to pay for is return shipping. Averaging 230 items circulated to just 60 members each month, the greatest benefit to AAC membership (potentially biased opinion) is going under utilized by the majority of members. 

The library has everything you need from training guidebooks for all levels, hiking and climbing guides for your local crag or wherever you may be off to, and mountaineering narratives, literature and videos for rest days.

Sketchbooks & Diaries

Check out this selection of 19th century sketchbooks and diaries found in the AAC Library's Archives and in the Central Asia Library. See more photos on Flickr.

Sketches made in the Himaleh 1848 by Charles Horne. This sketchbook can be found in the Central Asia Library. Charles Horne (1823-1871) was employed in the Bengal Civil Service. He worked in the region, studied, and wrote articles on various aspects of the life of the people, which appeared in such publications such as the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. Most of the sketches were done in the region of Garhwal.  Sketches include scenery, shrines, rope bridges, local people, botany, birds, etc. Also artifacts such as prayer wheels.  It is a thorough documentation of life in the mountains at that time. 


Summer Tour in the Grisons and Italian Valleys of the Bernina, 1862

A souvenir from Mrs. Henry Freshfield's summer tour, most of the sketches found in this little book are by a Mrs. C. Galton. They were pasted into this book, which might be a draft version of Mrs. Freshfield's book of the same name. This item was collected for the AAC Library by Past President J. Monroe Thorington. To read the book, you can access it online here.


Sketches made on trip to Mt. St. Elias, June-Sept. 1888

Descended from William Williams, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, this Williams donated many items such as this sketchbook, a diary and a privately published book to the AAC Library. Read his In Memoriam in the 1947 AAJ here.


Henry George Newcombe Tibet Diary, 1869.

This is another treasure that can be found in the Central Asia Library. This is the journal of a 4-month shooting expedition into Tibet in 1869, undertaken by three young British army officers, Henry George Newcombe (1846-1895) and his companions, Tillotson and Evans. In addition to Newcombe's observations, are illustrations, consisting of 3 maps, 53 watercolors and many vignettes within the text.


Sketchbook of Pfarrer Friedrich Drechsel 1895

The sketches range in date from 1890-1909. It contains sketches of mountain and village scenes in turn of the century Bavaria. The book was donated by Karl Drechsel to J. Monroe Thorington (Drechsel's former pupil) in 1927. Thorington donated the sketchbook in 1949 to the AAC.


To see more of the sketchbooks and diaries,

take a look at our Flickr page.