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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Winter is Upon Us

The 2010 Winter Solstice, marking the astronomical beginning of Winter, is not until 11:38pm on December 21. Meteorological winter, on the other hand, has clearly arrived already! Here in Washington, DC, it has been unusually cold and windy. The past two days have been the coldest yet at 22°F. With winds of as high as 40mph, the wind chill last night was 3°F! And however bad it has been in Washington, places like western New York and the upper Mid West have had it much worse.

All of this whining about the weather leads inevitably to the admission that in other parts of world, people live under conditions far, far colder than we will ever know in Washington, DC. For instance, near Barrow, Alaska, where the Inupiat people have been living for a millennia, the air temperature averages -13.4°F during the winter!

In the early part of the Twentieth Century, Leuman M. Waugh visited this part of the world as a scientist and dentist, taking meticulous notes, photographs, and motion pictures along the way. He was greeted by a people whose traditions equipped them for life in the rugged Arctic. And who appeared to handle the climate with far more grace than anyone in Washington that I know!

We have featured Waugh’s photographs on this blog before. Not only is the subject matter strikingly beautiful, but the amazing hand-tinting of these glass lantern slides gives them a special vibrancy. Click here for more Waugh photographs. To see more incredible hand-tinted lantern slides, take a look at this SIRIS Blog post from the Archives of American Gardens.

Michael Pahn, Media Archivist, National Museum of the American Indian,


  1. Uh, it's the winter "solstice." not "equinox."

  2. Thank you for catching that, Abby. We've made the correction.

  3. I have questions concerning some material...think this may be some authentic old tinted negative glass pictures taking by Mr.Waugh....i have pictures I can send...please post back here if interested.