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Chesapeake Bay Aquascope Collection

Cultural Note

The Society's archival materials constitute a historical record and may contain unsettling images, language, or other objectionable content that does not reflect contemporary social and/or cultural views or the Society's current values. Staff are implementing practices to address troubling or even potentially harmful content while retaining authenticity of the original record.
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Introduction

In 1953, the National Geographic Society (NGS) financed construction of the 3,000 pound Aquascope diving chamber to study and photograph the underwater sea life in the Chesapeake Bay. The idea was proposed by Gilbert C. Klingel (a metallurgist with a penchant for natural history and boat building) and with the Society’s support he was able to build the Aquascope. Another NGS grantee of note, Harold “Doc” Edgerton assisted Klingel in the construction and created a specially designed flash lighting apparatus that enabled high speed photography underwater.

In August of 1954, Klingel set out on the Chesapeake Bay with National Geographic Society photographer Willard R. Culver to study at close range and to photograph, in color, the millions of lives swarming around the depths of the bay.

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Published Photos

President Roosevelt congratulates Captain Orvil A. Anderson, Captain Albert W. Stevens and others at the White House on November 14, 1935

In this Published photos subseries of the Chesapeake Bay Aquascope Collection there are 14 color transparencies, 6 B&W photos, and 1 magazine mockup documenting aspects of the Chesapeake Bay Aquascope Expedition. Captured images include: underwater shots of plants and animals; team members working on equipment; and Gilbert C. Klinger and Willard R. Culver in the Aquascope.

These Published photos were included as part of the May 1955 article, "100 Hours Underneath the Chesapeake: Aquascope Explorers Bring Back Remarkable Photographs in Color from the Murky Depths of the Bay" by Gilbert C. Klingel with illustrations by Willard R. Culver in National Geographic Magazine. Publication information is noted with each specific image in this subseries. See individual photos for further description.

Chesapeake Bay Aquascope Collection: Published Photos

Unpublished Photos

In this Unpublished photos subseries of the Chesapeake Bay Aquascope Collection there are 424 color transparencies documenting aspects of the Chesapeake Bay Aquascope Expedition. Captured images include: underwater shots of plants and animals in the Chesapeake Bay; team members working on the constrution of of the Aquascope expedition platform; and team members working with Aquascope equipment in Chesapeake Bay.

These Unpublished photographs were part of the expedition, but were not published in the May 1955 article, "100 Hours Underneath the Chesapeake: Aquascope Explorers Bring Back Remarkable Photographs in Color from the Murky Depths of the Bay" by Gilbert C. Klingel with illustrations by Willard R. Culver in National Geographic Magazine.

Chesapeake Bay Aquascope Collection: Unpublished Photos

Film and Media

The Film and Media section for the Aquascope Collection is comprised of 17 records that document the launch and use of the Aquascope vessel in both the Chesapeake Bay and in tests held in Florida.

Chesapeake Bay Aquascope Collection: Film and Media

 

Documents

The Document section for the Aquascope Collection contains files for Dr. Gilbert Klingel’s research grant and lecture, along with National Geographic Magazine editorial files, plus scientific reports and materials from the Society’s News Services highlighting the expedition.

As we continue to migrate archival documents from our prior data management system into our new one, more resources will become available. And as we continue our digitization efforts more will become available digitally.

Chesapeake Bay Aquascope Collection: Documents