[Various locations along the West Coast: ca. 1926-1929].  leaves, illustrated with sixty-two vernacular photographs or studio-produced real photo postcards in mounting corners, plus a few ephemeral items. Oblong quarto. Contemporary black cloth photograph album, string-tied. Boards scuffed and worn. Some photographs loose, moderate edge wear and chipping to album leaves, photographs in generally nice condition. About very good. Item #2162
A unique assemblage of over sixty photographs, about twenty of which are inscribed on the verso, featuring a Filipino-American itinerant worker named Rafael E. "Ralph" Labson and his friends in the Philippines, California, Washington, and Alaska. Labson emigrated to the West Coast of the United States in the 1920s to work as an agricultural laborer. He appears to have compiled the present album to document his travels, but especially to memorialize many of the men and women he either left behind in the Philippines or met while working in California, Washington State, and Alaska. The inscribed snapshots and real photo postcards were inscribed by Filipino and some Anglo-American friends, mainly in Seattle but also in San Francisco and the Philippines, and gifted to Labson in the latter half of the 1920s. Several of the pictures contain heartfelt autograph sentiments from girlfriends or from other friends, including one card inscribed from a man back home in the Philippines prior to Labson's departure, which reads: "Mr. Rafael E. Labson I wish to give you this picture of me as you remembrance to me when you are going far away. Your devoted friend, Arsenio Garcia, Mr. Labson when did you go two U.S.A. will you please tell me when you go? I am very sure that you are going to leave me here on Philippine Island." Another snapshot is inscribed to Rafael by a woman named Bessie Tabernillo, a Native Alaskan woman who lived in Juneau and married a Filipino man. Most of the annotations are written in English, though at least one example is inscribed in Tagalog.
The photographs themselves display photographer's blindstamps from the Sandine studio in San Francisco, as well as the Jackson studio in Seattle. The snapshots serve to document the lives of Filipino immigrant laborers in Washington State and in Alaska, including six images of a picnic on the Alaskan Coast (one captioned by Labson), images of young Filipino men posing with white or Native American wives or girlfriends, and group photographs of Filipino laborers on a farm. According to the 1930 census, Labson, together with many other Filipino laborers worked at a historic Woodinville, Washington vegetable farm founded by Fred Zante, a Filipino immigrant, around 1929. A handful of the photographs here appear to emanate from such a farm, with large groups of Filipino laborers posing for small and large group shots in rural settings while dressed in working clothes.
A wonderful peek into the life of a Filipino-American immigrant who worked his way up the Pacific Coastline in the late 1920s.