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Alwin Girdner Collection, 1920-1942


Overview of the Collection

Creator: Girdner, Alwin J., 1923-
Title: Alwin Girdner Collection,
Inclusive Dates: 1920-1942
Quantity: 267 images (prints, negatives)
Abstract:Images taken by Florence Barker and Clara Holcomb of themselves and the Girdner family on the Navajo next hit Reservation, 1920-1942.
Identification: NAU.PH.2004.32
Language: Material in English
Repository: Cline Library. Special Collections and Archives Department
Northern Arizona University
Box 6022
Flagstaff, AZ 86011-6022
Phone: 928 523-5551
Fax: 928 523-3770

Historical Note

Alwin J. Girdner was born in 1923 to missionary parents and grew up on the previous hitNavajo next hit Reservation, where he and his family lived from 1923-1939. After leaving the reservation, he studied at the University of of Arizona where he received degrees in business and Southwestern and Latin American history. Despite no longer living on the reservation, he has maintained lifelong ties to previous hitNavajo next hit culture. In 2011, he published an autobiography and history of his days on the reservation: Diné Tah: My Reservation Days, 1923-1939.

Clara Holcomb lived for nearly thirty years on the previous hitNavajo next hit Reservation, and was considered a driving force in the creation and success of the Immanuel Mission. She spoke previous hitNavajo next hit and established numerous lasting relationships with local Navajos. Clara Holcomb remained at the Immanuel mission until 1945 when she retired to her family ranch in Oak Creek where she soon past away. Florence Barker came to Immanuel mission in 1922 and worked with Clara Holcomb for four years as a missionary and professional nurse. These two women traveled extensively throughout the reservation on horseback photographing the land and its people. For much of the time they were based out of the Immanuel Mission located just West of Teec Nos Pos, about 50 west of Shiprock. Over the years, they managed to compile numerous priceless images.

Scope and Content

The photographs were taken in the 1920s by Florence Barker and Clara Holcomb during their tenure as Plymouth Brethren Missionaries on the previous hitNavajo next hit Reservation. Images are from taken principally during Girdner's time on the previous hitNavajo next hit reservation, 1923-1939. The date range on the images is from 1920-1939. Most images were taken by either of his two Aunts, Clara Holcomb and Florence Barker. They include many shots of Holcomb, Barker, Girdner and their family members, as well as the many previous hitNavajo friends they made on the reservation.


Conditions Governing Access

No restrictions on use, except: not available through interlibrary loan.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the user to obtain permission to publish from the owner of the copyright (the institution, the creator of the record, the author or his/her transferees, heirs, legates, or literary executors). The user agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the Arizona Board of Regents for Northern Arizona University, its officers, employees, and agents from and against all claims made by any person asserting that he or she is an owner of copyright.

Controlled Access Terms

Personal Name(s)

Family Name(s)

Corporate Name(s)

Geographic Name(s)


Genre Form(s)


Administrative Information

Alternative Form Available

Digital versions of parts of this collection are available online herehere.

Preferred Citation

Alwin Girdner Collection, NAU.PH.2004.32. Special Collections and Archives. Northern Arizona University. Cline Library. Flagstaff, Arizona.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Alwin "Rusty" Girdner.

Container List

NAU.PH.2004.32: Photographs, 1920-1942,
Digital versions of parts of this collection are available online herehere.