The 282 prints in this collection depict Captain Michael A. Healy, the U.S. Revenue Cutters “Bear,” “Corwin,” and “Richard
Rush”; the crewmen of the afore-mentioned revenue cutters; Alaskan natives and their homes; and various views of the Alaskan
wilderness and towns. These photographs were taken between 1880 and the 1890s. The collection provides insight into the people
and events the “Bear” and “Corwin” encountered on their voyages.
Michael A. Healy was born September 22, 1839 to an Irish cotton planter, Michael Morris Healy, and a mulatto woman, Eliza
Clark. Even though his father sent him and his brothers north to be educated (and hence escape slavery), Healy always ran
away from the schools he was enrolled in, and eventually joined the clipper ship "Jumna" in 1855. For the next ten years,
he sailed on merchant vessels until he was commissioned as a Third Lieutenant in the U.S. Revenue Service in 1865; that same
year, Healy married Mary Jane Roach, the daughter of Irish immigrants to Boston.
Healy served aboard a number of ships, but his Arctic command with the "Thomas Corwin" began in 1882; he rose to the position
of captain in March of 1883. While in command of the "Corwin", Healy patrolled the Arctic to prevent illegal sale of guns
and alcohol to the Alaskan natives and to control illegal fur seal hunting. The captain was also concerned for the well-being
of the Alaskan natives, and ferried Siberian caribou over to help reestablish the natives’ food supply since many seals and
walruses were killed by white traders.
After the Revenue Cutter Service acquired the "Bear" in 1884, Healy became its commander and continued his mission of relegating
illegal activities and assisting the Alaska natives with their food troubles. Also, the "Bear" became known for rescuing stranded
sailors from whaling ships that had become stuck in the ice near northern Alaska.
However, in the 1890s, Healy was charged for being drunk while on duty and for abusive treatment of his crew; he was found
guilty by a court-martial and placed at the bottom of the captains’ list. He was given temporary command of two cutters before
working his way back to the top of the list and receiving command of the cutter "Thetis".
Healy retired from the revenue cutter service in 1903 and died of a heart attack on August 30, 1904 in San Francisco.
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for publication is given on behalf of the Huntington as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or
imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.