Alaska Film Archives

[Jeanie of Alaska – original reel 1]
[Jeanie of Alaska – original reel 1]
This film includes scenes of Bud and Connie Helmericks traveling with their young daughter, Jeanie, throughout northern Alaska. The date of 1952 was confirmed by Jean (Jeanie Helmericks) Aspen in 2015. Detailed summary information was provided by the filmmakers. According to these notes, the films include scenes of Bud, Connie, and their daughter Jeanie (just turned two years old) walking toward their airplane; an airport in Montana; the family en route to Alaska; scenes from Takahula Lake, including the Helmericks’ log cabin home in the Brooks Range (Jeanie had never seen it before); Connie lifting Jeanie out of an airplane; Jeanie’s first view of the Arctic following a five-day flight from the U.S.; Jeanie wearing a factory-made brown alpaca parka with a hood; the next day, Jean on her tiny snowshoes watching her daddy cut a hole through the four-foot ice of the lake; Ice-fishing; Connie in rubber boots carrying Jean through water to get out on the lake ice in May; Bud gassing up the airplane; ice on Takahula Lake getting slushy and treacherous, and so they must go north because the airplane’s landing field on the frozen lake is disappearing; arriving at the still-frozen Arctic Ocean, 300 miles directly north of the cabin; Bud setting up an Explorers Club flag on a staff; pitching a tent and making a polar camp; Jean watching from a gas can seat dressed in a new caribou fur parka; a dog team driven by a friend arriving from the shore by arrangement; Jean walking on her snowshoes; hunting seals; Jean helping her mother fetch a bucket of snow for melting; on sunny days, camp gear and bedding hung out over the airplane to dry out the dampness of living on the salt ice; Connie hanging child’s diapers to dry on the airplane prop; Bud stalking and killing a polar bear; Jean and her toy seal; ice getting dangerous; on shore again after two months; Oliktok Point, on the north coast of Alaska, changing the landing gear for summer flight; inside a tent – Nannie, Martha, and George; a summer evening on the Koyukuk River and an aerial view; a trading post at Hughes for mail and supplies; over the Brooks Range; a sunset rainbow over Takahula Lake in summertime; building a dock and steps to the cabin; planting a garden; Bud hanging moose antlers up on a gable; Connie and Jeanie paddling through the waters of Takahula Lake in a seven-foot homemade kayak, which was very tippy; on the Arctic coast in summer - the Helmericks family camping with a tent; mosquitos on Bud’s back; Point Barrow - a tractor pushing off a boat; two views of the polar ice pack as it looks in summer; a walrus hunt; a bull walrus charging the boat; and a walrus being harpooned and butchered.
[Jeanie of Alaska – original reel 2]
[Jeanie of Alaska – original reel 2]
This film features an airplane in flight from underneath, showing the floats; the word HELP written on the ground at remote Anaktuvuk Pass in the Brooks Range; Chandler Lake people, dressed in summer parkas, are worried about a very sick baby (Bud flies the baby to the nearest hospital at Point Barrow - not shown); a view of landing on Takahula Lake; the family examines a new electric generator weighing 800 pounds which was flown in 100 miles from the trading post; painting the big yellow canoe; Jeanie crawling over an ancient mastodon tusk on the lake shore; Bud motoring up the Alatna River in the big yellow canoe; caribou and sheep; Bud felling a giant spruce tree; Bud hoisting an enormous eight foot log on his shoulders and carrying it; Bud filling a 20 gallon water tank inside the house; Connie at her twin aluminum sinks inside the cabin with piped water; Jeanie sampling the pie dough; Bud cutting moose steak from a moose Connie shot in the fall; Connie, author of books on the northern wilderness, at her typewriter inside the cabin; the cabin at treeline is used as a base for northern explorations as much as for a home; Jean sleeping in her little sleeping bag; outside, the first snow of winter begins to fall; barricading the cabin and lying a plank with spikes in front of the door to ward off bears; Bud and an unidentified man at Hughes, the trading post, pulling a plane from the Koyukuk River by tractor; ice cakes running in the Koyukuk; flying through Anaktuvuk Pass over the Brooks Range once more to the Arctic Ocean to meet with commercial fishing partners and friends, George and Nannie; landing on sand beach of the Colville River delta and waiting for the Arctic Ocean to freeze for ice fishing; friends looking at the power generator brought for them; their old house and a view of their new frame house (lumber was ocean-freighted from Point Barrow, 240 miles to the west); Connie pulling 12-year-old Lydia and Jeanie on a sled across the new ice of the Colville River channels; Apiak, the oldest son, pulling another sled; George, the father, using an ice chisel to work at a fishing hole; sculpins, or “Irish Lords,” inhabit all the oceans and are a great nuisance to fishermen - they are worthless, covered with spines, and it takes valuable time to disentangle them from nets; tossing fish into the sled lined with a caribou skin to hold them; skinloads of fish are upset onto the ice, making piles of frozen fish all over the river delta to be picked up at will; Jean with George and Nannie, her “Eskimo grandparents,” inside the new frame house - looking at the Sears catalog is a popular pastime; Nannie and her sewing machine; grace, taught by Presbyterian missionaries at Point Barrow, is said before a meal with all participants seated on the floor; Bud draining the oil out of the “Arctic Tern” when the temperature turns 30 below zero; Jean and Lydia in their warm caribou parkas playing house in the discarded airplane cowling as Bud works; Bud’s tool kit - he must do all work on the airplane and make all checks himself without the benefit of a CAA inspector, for the nearest repairs or authorities are 520 air miles away in Fairbanks; Jean scrambling about in her double parkas - the outside parka she wears over caribou is of fancy grey rabbit – she also wears caribou pants, caribou stockings, and caribou booties; the instrument panel upon which the lonely pilot depends; the airfield at Barrow is marked by two lines of empty oil drums on the snow; scenes at Point Barrow: a tractor is used to haul Arctic Ocean ice (fresh) for drinking water for the village - lakes can’t be used because they are too distant and are tainted with salt from the ocean - but ocean ice “turns” fresh when it is over one year old; a sign for Barrow Theater - there are three motion picture houses in Barrow at this time, all owned and operated by an Eskimo businesswoman - the theaters run 24 hours a day, and fresh films are flown in daily from the U.S.; a panorama of Barrow shows a city without sidewalks or streetlights - garbage and sewage disposal is by truck and sled, carrying the city’s refuse out on the Arctic ice to be carried away - permanently frozen sub-soil makes a flush system impossible; Barrow Post Office and children getting mail; polar bear cubs in Barrow await shipment to some zoo; Ice blocks are stacked for the year’s water supply beside the school; a panorama shot of Barrow village, ending with the white framed Presbyterian church whose diocese covers an area the size of England and the British Isles; an Eskimo businessman who owns much stock in the cooperative Native Store enterprise; an American flag; Connie, Jean, and Bud walking through the snow in full winter dress consisting of two parkas; and The End (written in the snow).
[Our Alaskan Winter – original reel 1]
[Our Alaskan Winter – original reel 1]
Detailed summary information was provided by the filmmakers, Bud and Connie Helmericks. According to these notes, this film includes scenes of the “Arctic Tern” (Cessna 170 airplane) on skis. Six different airplanes, all named the “Arctic Tern” and all painted with a bird symbol, were used in the production of the three Helmericks films over seven years. Upon return to the Brooks Range cabin after many months away, Bud takes down hanging empty gas cans left to scare bears away. Bud shows how the arctic dweller uses an ice chisel — it takes about one hour to cut through the four-foot ice of Takahula Lake; He lifts out net with fish. Icy lake water is hauled to the house. They tramp down an airfield for the plane with snowshoes. It is necessary to push a small piece of stove-wood under each ski of the airplane when parked to keep it from freezing down. This is followed by views of Oliktok Point on the Arctic Ocean. Friends run out of their door waving joyously. Tagiluk, the adopted older son, and little Lydia; Martha at the door is around age seventeen; Oolak, fifteen, in a pink snowshirt over caribou furs, turns the dogsled upside down and ices its runners. Bud and George work with shovels and flags to make a more safe airplane field; Oolak returns hours later with a load of small driftwood sticks for fuel — this wood is very scarce, and he must scavenge a large area to find it — the wood comes from large rivers which flow into the Arctic Ocean and have trees at their heads thousands of miles away. A sled with a big sail approaches out of the frozen ocean — the woman has a baby, born in a hospital in Point Barrow 200 miles away, hidden on her back under her warm caribou fur parka. Carrie with her boy Maugulauk and husband Jacob. When Carrie becomes ill, Bud flies her to Point Barrow Hospital during a wind storm. Back at Oliktok Point camp, Connie directs the airplane to safety. A dog buried in snow in a spring blizzard during the month of May. Another dogsled visitor arrives, and they all shake hands with Colliak, who has come from 100 miles inland. A caribou is butchered. Sawing out a new sled from driftwood as Lydia plays about. Apiak, the older son, builds sled flooring — it is necessary to make an entirely new sled almost every season. Apiak shows how he ties the flooring with sealskin — this enables the sled to bend and be pliable. A flight out over the polar ice fifty miles. Landing fifty miles offshore where Apiak had designated a hunting camp in his earlier explorations by sled. They pitch a tent. There's a rifle close at hand in case of polar bear. Travel via dogsled while hunting for seals.
[We Live in the Arctic - Reel 2]
[We Live in the Arctic - Reel 2]
Detailed summary information for this film was provided by the filmmakers, Bud and Connie Helmericks – see a film archivist for full information. According to these notes, films include scenes of an Inupiat family identified in notes as Nanny and George, son Apiak, and daughters Lydia and Martha; Nanny tending a fishnet set in the Arctic Ocean; Lydia (age 5) eating dried meat with an uluruk; Martha (age 17) holding a mirror and applying lipstick; a woman identified in the notes as Bessie with a homemade guitar made from a Prestone can; a whale boat in the Arctic Ocean; people identified in the notes as Oolak or Job (age 15), Little Jacob, Carrie with little Maugaulak or Mark, and Richard; Chandler Lake; a group of inland Inupiat or Nunamiut at Chandler Lake, including people identified in the notes as baby Franklin Roosevelt and his father, Simon Paneak; caribou skin tents covered with canvas; bear damage at a cabin; Connie picking berries; Bud and Connie hunting moose; Connie rendering tallow; Connie chinking a cabin with moss; Bud making a cabin window; Bud demonstrating winter wear; fishing through ice; Bud cutting ice blocks; and heating the airplane engine before take-off.