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American Espionage in Siberia photograph album

 Collection
Identifier: GTM-170309
The American Espionage in Siberia photograph album documents the secret efforts of the Americans to obtain platinum from Siberia in 1918. The Bolsheviks had cut off American access to platinum, an important metal used to build airplane engines. The U.S. Commerce Department subsequently dispatched George L. Preston, an American fur trader in Riga, to Siberia as an officer of the Red Cross to provide humanitarian supplies to the Czech Legion on the Trans-Siberian Railway. Working secretly beyond his humanitarian mission, Preston sucessfuly obtained a supply of platinum for the United States.

The photograph album contains 81 captioned black-and-white photographs, each measuring 3" x 4". The collection features pictures of George L. Preston, Czech and Siberian soldiers, people of Mongolia, refugees, missionaries, bridges and stations on the Trans-Siberian Railway, Bolshevik prisoners, landscapes, and buildings. The album seems to have been made by a YMCA worker.

Dates

  • 1918

Condition Description

Fair condition; fragile

Conditions Governing Access

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Extent

0.2 Linear Feet (1 box)

Biographical Note

In 1918, George L. Preston, an American fur trader in Riga, was selected by the U.S. Commerce Department to serve as a Red Cross official providing humanitarian YMCA supplies to soldiers in the Czech Legion on the Trans-Siberian Railway. Preston learned that the Bolsheviks had cut off American access to platinum, which was a key metal used in airplane engine production. Preston informed U.S. officials that he could obtain stores of platinum in Siberia. He was heralded for his humanitarian efforts, and his secret mission procured much-needed platinum for the United States. Preston traveled to Washington, D.C. to deliver his report. After returning to his home in Campello, Massachusetts, Preston suddenly died.

[Source: Dealer Catalog].

Custodial History

Purchase from Between the Covers, N.J., 2017

Condition Description

Fair condition; fragile
Title
American Espionage in Siberia photograph album
Author
Scott S. Taylor
Date
2019 March
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

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