Timeline for Burton Holmes Businesses and Companies

Events are noted in chronological order. We've indicated which ones are tied to specific dates and which are approximate.


BH: Burton Holmes
BHT: Burton Holmes Travelogues (also known as The Travelogues Company)
BHI: Burton Holmes Inc., and Burton Holmes International (its
       successor company)
TS: Thayer Soule
WE: Walter Everest
OD: Oscar Depue
RM: Robert Mallett
RH: Robert Hollingsworth

Source references [XY] are as follows:

BH   Burton Holmes, in The World Is Mine
LT   Burton Holmes, in The Burton Holmes Lectures, also known as the Burton
       Holmes Travelogues

TS   Thayer Soule, in On the Road With Travelogues
GC   Genoa Caldwell, author of The Man Who Photographed the World,
       via private correspondence
IW   Irving Wallace, in Everybody's Rover Boy, reprinted in The Man Who
       Photographed the World

CM   Charles Musser, in The Emergence of Cinema
LT   Burton Holmes Travelogues / International, List of Titles 1892 Thru 1970
AG   Alison Griffiths, in Wondrous Difference
JR   John Robertson, via private correspondence
BC   Bill Cartwright, via private correspondence
PM   Patrick Montgomery, via private correspondence

Other sources are used occasionally and these are identified at the time of quotation.

1870, January: Burton Holmes born into a wealthy family in Chicago. [IW]

1880: Holmes attends John L. Stoddard's Chicago lecture on the Oberammergau Passion Play [BH]

1883: BH buys first camera and gets hooked; installs a darkroom and does all his own work [BH]

1886: Holmes first visits Europe, with his grandmother; sails on the Etruria; sits at a corner table at the Café de la Paix [BH]

1890: On second visit to Europe (again with grandmother) on the Umbria, Holmes meets and befriends Stoddard at Oberammergau [BH]

1890/1: Holmes shows his pictures from Europe at the Chicago Camera Club; writes a script and delivers first lecture based on his slides, raising $350 for the club [IW, TS]

1891: Holmes fails at selling real estate, then works as clerk in a camera store. During the summer visits Mexico for a month with Grandmother, on a Grafton Excursions tour. First photographs on Eastman's new flexible celluloid film. [BH]

1892, August: Holmes gets family to send him to Japan for four months; on the train to Vancouver meets John L. Stoddard again, also going to Japan. They hang out together and Stoddard offers BH chance to go with him to Korea, but BH prefers to stay in Japan. This trip is described in the Lectures / Travelogues [BH]

1893: Panic of 1893 ruins Holmes' father financially [BH]

1893: Holmes decides to show his slides taken in Japan, hand-colored in Yokohama, at lecture halls to make money. First lectures: four shows at the Recital Hall of the Chicago Conservatory of Dramatic Art, beginning 15 November. McIntosh Battery and Optical Company rents him stereopticon, and operator: Oscar Depue. Makes $700 over two days. Meets Edmund Locke and hires him as manager (and angel/investor). Books four nights in Milwaukee and loses most of the $700 [BH]

1893-7: BH Struggles as a travel lecturer [IW].

1894, February: sails for North Africa on a Mediterranean cruise on German liner Fuerst Bismarck with friend Nelson Barnes and Barnes' father's letter of credit. Goal: take pictures of Morocco, Spain for new lectures. This trip is also described in the Lectures / Travelogues [BH]

1894/5: Second season, has six lectures he can give; successful at the Recital Hall in Chicago but gets only meager paying audiences in Indianapolis.

Montmartre Square, Paris, 1895

Montmartre Square, Paris, 1895. © BHHC; all rights reserved.

1897: Stoddard retires after eighteen years. Holmes rents Central Music Hall in Chicago and successfully carries on where JLS had been. Meets Louis Francis Brown who secures him contracts in New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn. Brown stays as Manager of the Burton Holmes Lectures until his death in 1925. Success varies, even with commendation from Stoddard that BH can use in his brochures.

1897: Oscar Depue buys a 60 mm movie camera from Léon Gaumont in Paris and shoots films for Holmes of Venice, Milan, and France. [CM] Holmes first uses moving pictures only as supplement to his lectures [BH]. The movie sequences are presented after the show, as novelties not related to the subject matter, but including a police parade in Chicago, the Omaha fire department on a call, and Neapolitans eating spaghetti. Oscar Depue in charge of this new part of the shows. Film is 60 mm wide, unperforated. [TS]

1899-1900: BH begins to integrate his film into the lectures themselves, beginning with footage shot in Hawaii, the Philippines, and Japan [CM]

1900: BH goes to Oberammergau and films the Passion Play, and to Paris to photograph the Exposition; both are presented in the 1900-01 season. Struck by a display at the Exposition, he decides to go on the Trans-Siberian Railroad. [BW]

1901: BH meets Tolstoy and films him; crosses Russia and China on grueling TSRR trip. The 1901 lecture season features, besides Russia, Peking and China, and Seoul and Korea. [IW]

1902: Lecture season features Portugal, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. See brochure. BHT Manager Louis Francis Brown coins the term "travelogue" for a series of shows in London. BHT switches to 35 mm film (still black-and-white, of course) [TS]

1903: Lecture season features Alaska and the Klondike [BH]

1904, Sept 14: Andre de la Varre Sr born in Washington D.C. [PM]

1904(?): Lecture season features London and Ireland [BH]

1905: Lecture season features Switzerland and the Tirol, and the 1905 Russo-Japanese War with the siege of Port Arthur [BH]

1906: Lecture season features an Egyptian journey from Cairo to the Upper Nile [BH]

Vienna Court Opera, Vienna, Austria, 1902

Vienna Court Opera, Vienna, Austria, 1902. © BHHC; all rights reserved.

1908: Lecture season features the Olympic Games in Athens. [BH] Holmes, at this period in love with Japan and its people, discusses his 1908 trip there in LADIES' HOME JOURNAL (Nov. 1908). [AG]

1909: Lecture season features "Hawaii Today," "The Cities of Japan Today," "The Country of Japan Today," "Java and Ceylon," and "Round About Paris"

1909-10: Lecture seasons feature Berlin, Vienna, Paris, London; Fez; Hawaii, the Philppines, Japan, Java, and Ceylon; Munich and Bavaria, Bohemia, and the Czecho-Slovak peoples [BH]

1911: Lecture season features South America—Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile, Rio de Janeiro [BH]

1912: Lecture season features West Indies and the Panama Canal; also British India [BH]

1912/13: "The Panama Canal" becomes most popular BHT travelogue ever [BH]

1913: Lecture season features Philippines (second visit; see photographs of Holmes at work) [BH]

1914: BH marries Margaret Oliver in NYC; honeymoons in Atlantic City [IW]

1914, Oct 25: Robert M. Mallett born [PM]

1914-17: World War I restricts travel, so BHT films in the U.S, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands [BH]

1915: "Down in Dixie" travelogue not popular success for BHT [IW]

1915 — 1921: BHT signs with Paramount, makes 52 travel shorts every year. [IW] Holmes in California, as part of the Mather Mountain Party. See 1915 photo of Holmes in California, probably not part of the Mather trip, as sold by BHT in 1954.

1918: As a war correspondent, BH shoots army scenes on the Western Front [IW]

1924: Andre de la Varre Sr. meets BH and begins working as cameraman and assistant for next eleven years [PM]

1927-28: BH lecture series, "Happy Hawaii," "Days in Paris," "More Days and Some Nights in Paris," and "The New Austria." See program for details.

1928-29: BH lecture series, "Gibraltar to the Pyrenees," in three parts, and "The Irish Free State." See program for details.

1929/1930: BHT signs with MGM to do talking films.

Premiere of <i>Hell's Angels</i>, Grauman's Chinese Theater, Hollywood, 1931

Premiere of Hell's Angels, Grauman's Chinese Theater, Hollywood, 1931.
© BHHC; all rights reserved.

1932: BH buys Topside, former home of Francis X. Bushman, in Hollywood. Leases it out to Francis Hollander [TS]

1933: "The Century of Progress Exposition" travelogue not popular success [IW]

1933: BH debuts on radio [IW]

1930's: BH wants to do shows at Carnegie Hall in New York City, but they do not have a movie screen. BH pays for one to be installed. It's so big and heavy that it can't be disassembled; so it becomes a permanent fixture there, owned by Holmes but used by the Hall. [JR]

1934: BH visits Russia and loves the place; writes The Traveler's Russia, which sells poorly [IW]

1935: Robert R. Hollingsworth born [PM]

1936, January: Thayer Soule hears BH lecture in Boston and talks to him after the show; is given pass to future shows and comes to all of them. [TS] Walter Everest of Boston joins BHT as Manager. [TS]

1939, July: Thayer Soule graduates from Harvard and goes immediately to work for BHT. BH leg crushed in automobile accident in Finland; recovery is long and painful and he always walks with a limp afterward. BH still manages to do the 1939-40 season shows, with some help. [TS]

1940: BHT begins using 16 mm Kodachrome film to replace monochrome 35 mm for its film work. TS and George Trickey shoot "Seven Wonders of the West" on Kodachrome 16 mm movie film and 35 mm slide film; it opens successfully but the 35 mm slides are too small [TS]

1941: BH and TS produce shows "The Great Southwest," "Alaska," and "The Canadian Rockies" for the new season, using 16 mm Kodachrome movie film and 4 x 5 transparencies for slides. Slides are determined to be too difficult to work with and are dropped from the shows, leaving only movies. Soule joins the Marines as a combat photographer at the end of 1941, returning to BHT in 1945.

1946: Thayer Soule and Bob VanDerveer shoot movie film in Mexico.

1944: BH first appears on television [IW]

1946: BH moves into Topside for part of each year. [TS]

1946: BH examines 35 mm b&w films used in earlier shows, now in vault storage in Burbank. Decides they're not worth keeping and throws them out. TS and Joe Franklin make new shows "The Road to Panama" and "The Great Southwest" [TS]

1946-47: BH sells Manhattan apartment "Nirvana" to Robert Ripley. [TS]

1947, January: BH transfers his boutonniere to TS at a show, annointing him his successor. Segments of a show on the Grand Canyon use Grofés "On the Trail" for background music; rights are too expensive, so BH gets permission directly from Grofé. TS presents "Mexico" [TS]

1947-48: Ted Phillips is fired and replaced by Grant Wolfkill. TS and GW make new shows "Amazing Arizona," and "The Canadian Rockies" in 1947, and "Switzerland" in 1948. GW continues to work for BHT doing filming but eventually leaves for the BBC and NBC. BHT has good cash flow but no retained profits; TS suggests financial reporting and BH nominates him to do it; he sets it up, finally, after all these years. [TS]

1947-57 (?): The BHT "Circuit" is generally of the form (1) in January, Brooklyn, Rochester, Boston, Philadelphia, New York City; (2) in February, Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, and St. Louis; (3) in September, San Diego, Pasadena, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara; and (4) in October, Louisville, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Saint Paul [TS]

1948: WABC-TV in New York City runs a series of travel shows, including some using BHT films. TS presents "The Road to Panama" [TS]

1948-51: BHT produces five sound films for sale, narrated by BH: "Tulip Time in Holland, Michigan" and by TS: "Song of the Rockies," "Weekend in Mexico," "Andean Glimpses," and "Surprising South Africa." They sell poorly. [TS]

1949: Santa Fe Railroad asks BHT to do thirteen 30-minute television programs based on their older films, converted to black-and-white and with new filmed introductions. The series is shown on television and a small number of other cities, but is not considered a success. [TS]

1949: TS presents "Sweden" and "Switzerland." TS and Glen Howit (projectionist for BHT) first meet Robert Mallett in Japan, and introduce him to BH. RM has been giving lectures under the name Kent Roberts, and though he knows nothing about photography, he is hired by BH for his talent as an entertainer. Working with Mallett is Robert Hollingsworth. RM and RH are to be the last maintainers of the Burton Holmes companies, and will make some films. [TS]

1949: BH turns over to Robert Mallett 200,000 feet of 35mm B/W footage shot 1897-1939 to organize as stock shot library. [PM]

1950: BHT begins to use tape recordings to provide occasional music supplementing the narration. TS presents "Hawaii" and "Around the World" [TS]

1950: Robert Mallett hires Robert Hollingsworth to catalog BH historical library of 200,000 feet of 35mm film shot between 1897 and 1939. [PM]

1950-53: George W. "Bill" Perkins and Lowell Wentworth make film on New England for BHT, but soon leave the company [TS]

1951, 10 September: BH suffers stroke at Topside, and is forced by health problems to stop doing shows. TS stands in for him in the California cities with "Bermuda, Nassau, Miami." In the ensuing months TS and RM do more than 250 scheduled shows, while cancelling 80 more. BH withdraws from direction of the shows, but still retains an interest in BHT operations. [TS]

1951-56: BHT is reorganized as Burton Holmes Incorporated. Stock ownership is split between Burton and Margaret Holmes, Walter Everest, Robert Mallett, and Thayer Soule. BHI owns all the films and equipment; it also owns Topside, but the Holmes's have life use of it. Renting space and booking halls becomes more difficult without BH as the draw. [TS]

1951: TS presents "South Africa" and "The Eastern Congo" [TS]

1952: TS presents "England," "Australia," "New England," and "France" [TS]

1953: TS and RH make new films "Charm of the South" and "Hawaii". TS presents "Spain," Germany," and "The Mediterranean" [TS]

1953, Feb 27: Letter from BH at Topside to Andre Sr. "…Receipts are away off this year. People can now sit in slippered ease at home and see rotten travel pictures on their TV screens." [PM]

1954, May 26: Burton Holmes Inc. incorporated. Filed with CA Sect of State June 1, registration #287167. Location is 2020 Grace Ave, Los Angeles, Ca ("Topside"). 2500 shares are issued at $10 share. Directors are E. Burton Holmes, Louise B. Hollister and Margaret Olson Holmes. [PM]

1954, Nov 11: Agreement executed by Burton Holmes Inc. to pay royalties to BH, Margaret Olson Holmes, and Louise E Wood. [PM]

1954: TS presents "Mexico," "Colorado," and "Italy" [TS]

1955: TS presents "Cairo to Baghdad," "Switzerland," and "The Caribbean" [TS]

1955, June 20: Eight shares (Certificate #4) of Burton Holmes Inc stock issued to Walter T. Everest. [PM]

1956: TS presents "Charm of the South" and "Portugal" [TS]

1957: TS presents "Hawaii," "The Great Northwest," and "Alaska" [TS]

1957, Jan 31: BH gives slide collection to UCLA. On Feb. 11, 190 boxes containing 20,000 3 ¼" x 4" slides are picked up from 2020 Grace Ave, Hollywood and taken to UCLA Art Library. [PM]

1958: TS presents "The Golden West," and "Bermuda, Nassau, Miami."

1958, 22 June: Burton Holmes dies; burial in Columbarium at Forest Lawn, Glendale CA. Holmes Travelogue shows, in the traditional style, end a few months later. [TS]

1958: Thayer Soule resigns to focus on his own travel shows [TS]

1958 [?]: Andre de la Varre Sr returns to work with Burton Holmes Inc. [PM]

1961, Nov 1: Four shares of Burton Holmes Inc issued to Andre de la Varre Jr. Certificate #13 signed by Robert M. Mallett President and Louise E Wood, Secretary. [PM]

1963: Program: Burton Holmes Travelogues Seventieth Anniversary Series Presents "Japan." Filmed by Burt Hixson and Grant Wolfkill, edited by Robert Hollingsworth, presentation and narration by Robert Mallett. [PM]

1963: Burton Holmes Travelogues presents "The Pacific Northwest," filmed by Robert Hollingsworth, narration by Robert Mallett. The 70th Anniversary series 1893-1963. [PM]

1963: Burton Holmes Travelogues presents "Portugal," filmed by Andre de la Varre, Sr., edited and narrated by Andre de la Varre Jr. [PM]

1963, Jan 18: Four additional shares of Burton Holmes Inc. issued to Andre de la Varre Jr. Certificate #14 signed by Robert M. Mallett, President, and Louise E Wood Secretary. [PM]

1964: Burton Holmes Travelogues presents "The Great West." filmed by Robert Hollingsworth and narrated by Robert Mallett. (71st Year). [PM]

1964: Approx. 90,000 ft of 16mm color footage deposited with Dorothy Dashiell to organize and run as an independent stock footage library. [PM]

1964: Burton Holmes Travelogues Presents "Grand Tour of Europe," produced and directed by Andre de la Varre Sr., and narrated in person by Andre de la Varre Jr. [PM]

1965: Four months spent to re-catalog 200,000 feet of 35 mm footage shot from 1897 to 1939. Seventy-five 2000' cans (110,000 ft) cataloged as "Date ID Reserve Stock." Remainder (90,000 ft) is deemed not historically relevant (Supplementary Stock). [PM]

1965: Program: Andre de la Varre Jr. presents a Burton Holmes Theatrical Travelogue "London and Paris by Day and By Night." [PM]

1965: Program: Burton Holmes Theatrical Travelogues and Andre de la Varre present "Fabulous Spain." [PM]

1965-70?: Burton Holmes Inc. in bankruptcy; is reorganized as Burton Holmes International, run by RM and RH. [JR] This turn of events is questioned by PM, who says Burton Holmes International never filed with California Secretary of State, and asks whether formal bankruptcy ever occurred.

1966: "Date ID Reserve Stock" library is kept at Bekins Storage in Hollywood. [PM]

1967: Walter Everest dies. [PM]

1968: Margaret Holmes dies. Burial in Columbarium at Forest Lawn, Glendale CA.

1968: Louise E. Wood resigns from Burton Holmes Inc. [PM]

1968?: 12 1/3 shares (1/3 of 37 shares referred to in 1958 agreement) issued to Andre de la Varre Sr. Certificate #17 signed by Robert M. Mallett, President, and Robert R. Hollingsworth, Asst. Secretary. [PM]

1969: By this time Dorothy Dashiell has cataloged only 16,000 ft of the 90,000 ft supplied to her in 1964. She decides to close library and returns entire 90,000 ft to Burton Holmes Inc. [PM]

1969: 110,000 ft of 35mm B/W footage (75 2000' cans) still in storage at Bekins. Supplmentary Stock (90,000 ft) stored separately. [PM]

1970: Last Burton Holmes Inc. travel lectures: "Switzerland," "Fabulous Texas," "East Africa," "Alaska to the Andes" [LT]

1970, June: Robert R. Hollingsworth prepares a "dossier" on current state of Burton Holmes Inc. [PM]

1971, June: Hollingsworth updates above dossier and includes a report to the stockholders. Attached are financial statements 1965 to 1970 and minutes of the Board of Directors meeting June 2, 1971. Directors are listed as Robert M. Mallett (President), Robert R. Hollingsworth (VP & Treasurer) and Louise E. Wood (Secretary). Total shares outstanding are 61 and stockholders are listed as Walter T. Everest/Robert V Everest (20 1/3 shares), Robert M. Mallett (16 1/3 shares), Andre de la Varre Sr (12 1/3 shares), Andre de la Varre Jr. (8 shares) and Robert R. Hollingsworth (4 shares). Stockholders active with company are listed as Mallett, Hollingsworth, Everest and de la Varre Sr. Executive office is listed as 8853 Sunset Blvd, LA, CA. Topside is sold for net of $92,500 (?). Conclusion of the report is that Burton Holmes Inc. is approaching insolvency. [PM]

1975, Oct 1: Burton Holmes Inc. suspended by CA Secretary of State for non-payment of franchise tax. [PM]

1975-77: Genoa Caldwell spends months working with BHI gathering material and writing the art book / biography of Holmes, The Man Who Photographed the World (Abrams, 1977) [GC]

1976, Sept. 29: Burton Holmes Inc reinstated by CA Secretary of State. [PM]

1978: Bill Cartwright, Scott Goren, and Genoa Caldwell compile exhaustive catalog of remaining films in BHI archive [BC, GC]

1970's-80's: BHI focus changes from travelogues to Holography. RH does extensive invention and development work in holographic technology, aiming at full-color image storage and display. BHI opens Odyssey Image Center in street level of the BHI building on Sunset Strip, selling holographic images made by themselves and by others. [JR]

Mid-late 1980's: BHI building is sold and new landlord wants higher rent, paid regularly. BHI, which has been struggling to stay afloat, closes down. BHT film archive is put in storage and disappears from sight. RH dies without a will. RM drops from sight.

1984: In an Austrian newspaper interview, Andre de la Varre Sr. says he was involved in making 150 Burton Holmes Travelogues . [PM]

1985, Dec. 13: Andre de la Varre Sr. signs his 12 1/3 shares over to Andre de la Varre Jr. [PM]

1988, April 30: Statement by Domestic Stock Corp. filed for Burton Holmes Inc. Robert Mallett listed as CEO, Hollingsworth listed as Secretary and CFO, and place of business as 1004 Larrabee St, West Hollywood CA 90069. [PM]

1988: Tax return filed for Burton Holmes Inc for Year Ending 9/30/88. [PM]

1990, Dec. 3: Burton Holmes Inc suspended by CA Sect of State for non-payment of franchise tax. [PM]

1991?: According to David Ziegler, of the UCLA Art Library, at the time of his death Robert Hollingsworth had a storage locker at Public Storage Co. in Van Nuys which contained more than 1000 of the slides that he had borrowed back from UCLA and never returned. [PM]

1995: Set of the Burton Holmes Lectures turns up at book sale and is bought by travel history collector, who decides in 1996 to scan and put the Trans-Siberian Railroad pages up on the web. One thing leads to another and BurtonHolmes.org results.

1998, Sept. 1: CA Secretary of State Certificate of Amendment, for Burton Holmes Inc., updated. [PM]

2001, April: Andre de la Varre Jr. dies. Leaves 20 1/3 shares of stock (1/3 of outstanding stock) of Burton Holmes Inc to his three children. [PM]

2004: Large portion of the BHI film archive turns up in storage in a garage in the Los Angeles area.

2004, Nov: Patrick Montgomery acquires 20 1/3 shares of Burton Holmes Inc from heirs of Andre de la Varre Sr. [PM]

2006, Oct.: New collection of Holmes photographs, Burton Holmes Travelogues, edited by Genoa Caldwell, published in four languages by Taschen.

Update history: This page created 4 May 2004. Latest revision 7 October 2016.