Dora's Letter to Putnam about Mt. Blackburn Expedition 1912


Dora's Letter to Putnam about Mt. Blackburn Expedition 1912




Handwritten letter from Dora Keen to Harrington Putnam. The letter is dated September 11, 1912 and is sent from the Hotel Frye in Seattle, WA. The letter discusses an ascent of Mt. McKinley by colleagues and how it compared to her ascent of Mt. Blackburn. She also suggests someone as a guest speaker for future American Alpine Club annual dinners. She also happily agrees to a lectureship in Brooklyn, but says she must charge a rate of $50 plus expenses. Keen talks about a trip through Glacier National Park and seeing Mt. Rainier with a guide and concludes by asking after the status of a few club nominations.





The American Alpine Club Library Archives


The American Alpine Club Library


My dear Judge Putnam

Your letter of the 1st has reached me here, and brings interesting news in regard to Mr. Palmer's successful climbs. He is as unwilling to be beaten as I am I think.

I have met the Parkers, Mr. Belmore H. Browne, and Merl La Voy, their extra [indecipherable] and have seen the letters and pictures. Mt. McKinley was different in every particular from Blackburn. They got within 300 ft. of the top and really overcame all of its difficulties, so that I think their really great achievement should count as a first ascent. As mountaineering it sounds to me no more difficult than Blackburn most it not so bad nor so dangerous, but it is far larger, colder, higher, and a greater endurance test than Blackburn on that account. Blizzards kept them from the final easy summit twice, and their margins of food prevented a third attempt.

Mr. Brown seems to me to be the real [indecipherable] of the try, modest, a real sport in his fairness and ability, and the one that did all the hard work and organization, and led and found the way. I urged him to ask Prof. Parker to nominate him to the Alpine Club, with me for seconder. He is exactly the type of man that I personally most welcome to the Club, an educated gentleman and a real mountaineer.

I want to suggest his name as guest and chief speaker at our annual dinner. He would not be as academic and dull as Prof. Parker and could give a far more vivid and intelligible story of the [indecipherable]. He tells me that his pictures have turned out finely, and he leaves in a few days for N.Y., where he is to spend the winter. He is to write three or more articles on McKinley for the "World Today."

As to lecturing in Brooklyn, I shall be happy to do so if you want me to, but I have to charge $50 and my expenses, because of the cost of such expeditions and the slides. I could speak on "The Ascent of Mt. Blackburn, Alaska" or "Through the Alaskan Wilderness."

Your encouragement to write a book is grateful, and I may try. I have enough to say and ample illustrations, but no confidence in my ability or justification in presenting it to a publisher and readers. I don't want to spend months for nothing while the world needs real service from able bodied workers like me.

I am returning shortly via Glacier National Park, which I shall observe as a possible camping ground for the Alpine Club. The N.E. side of Mt. Rainier would seem to me a better place for us, and Mr. [indecipherable] Curtis of Seattle, a good guide to it. Was he elected? He has received no notification, although proposed months ago. Neither has Mr. G. W. Handy, whom you were kind enough to second.

Mr. Parker believes that one of [indecipherable] Loyd's party got to 14,000 ft. on McKinley, but no higher.

Very sincerely yours

Dora Keen"

Original Format

Handwritten correspondence on paper.


“Dora's Letter to Putnam about Mt. Blackburn Expedition 1912,” The Collections of the American Alpine Club Library, accessed August 11, 2020,