Archival Documents

Frederick Nelson Atwood fonds

Creation Date(s): 1880-1942, 1898-1912 predominant

Physical Description:
1 scrapbook. - 1 album : ca. 300 photographs. - ephemera

Bio Sketch / Admin History:
Frederick Nelson Atwood was born to Catherine M. Atwood and Frederick Nelson Atwood in Boston (Suffolk), Massachusetts, on December 04, 1867. Frederick Nelson Atwood senior was a decorative painter of some prominence and Frederick Nelson Atwood junior followed in his footsteps. Atwood junior trained at several art schools in the eastern United States, specializing in fresco and decorative arts for the theatre.

Atwood moved to the west coast in 1890, landing his first job decorating Ezra Meeker’s home in Puyallup, Washington. In 1892 Fred crossed the Olympic Mountains, homesteading on the Queets River, before moving to Seattle, Washington, where he worked as an instructor at the YMCA.

In 1895 Atwood moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he resumed work as a decorator and married Mary C. Taylor of Seattle. Two years later Fred outfitted himself for the Klondike and headed north to prospect for gold. After several years of disappointment on the creeks, Atwood resumed his former work in the decorative arts.

Following a trip outside to purchase decorating supplies, Atwood returned to Dawson City in 1901, along with his young wife Mary. Their first son, Frederick N. Atwood, was born in 1901. Frederick and Mary had six children together, four of whom were born in the Yukon.

While living in Dawson City, Atwood established a business partnership with photographer George Cantwell. Atwood painted signs, designed and painted theatre sets, hung wallpaper, and did other interior decorating work.

Atwood was very active in Dawson’s theatrical circles, and was lauded as a talented performer and athlete. He was associated with numerous productions at the Auditorium Theatre, and was a prominent member of the Arctic Brotherhood. Atwood also illustrated some published work of Robert W. Service.

Frederick Atwood remained in Dawson City until 1912 when he and his family relocated to Seattle. In Seattle, Atwood embarked on a new business venture with several former Yukoners: the Hippodrome Amusement Company. He also took work with the New York Life Insurance Company.

Scope and Content:
This fonds consists of a scrapbook and photograph album compiled by Fredrich Nelson Atwood, as well as one loose dance card booklet.

The scrapbook contains clippings and ephemera relating to Atwood's pastimes and pursuits as a professional decorator in Chicago, Seattle, and Dawson City, between the early 1880s and 1912.
Ephemera includes: business cards, tickets, programmes, dance cards, advertisements, menus, and silhouettes.

The photograph album contains images relating exclusively to Atwood's time in the Klondike, between 1898 and 1912. The majority of the photographs were taken by Atwood or his business partner, George Cantwell.

Accession Number(s): TD 994; 2006.33

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