1870, January: Burton Holmes (BH) born into a wealthy family in Chicago.
1880: Holmes attends John L. Stoddard's Chicago lecture on the Oberammergau Passion Play
1883: Holmes buys first camera and gets hooked; installs a darkroom and does all his own work
1886: Holmes first visits Europe, with his grandmother; sails on the Etruria; sits at a corner table at the Café de la Paix
1890: On second visit to Europe (again with grandmother) on the Umbria, Holmes meets and befriends Stoddard at Oberammergau
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
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.
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 spend time together and Stoddard offers BH chance to go with him to Korea, but BH prefers to stay in Japan.
1893: Panic of 1893 ruins Holmes' father financially
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
1893-7: BH Struggles as a travel lecturer
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 described in the Lectures / Travelogues
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.
1897: Stoddard retires after eighteen years. Holmes rents Central Music Hall in Chicago and successfully carries on where Stoddard 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. Holmes first uses moving pictures only as supplement to his lectures. 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.
1899-1900: BH begins to integrate his film into the lectures themselves, beginning with footage shot in Hawaii, the Philippines, and Japan
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.
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.
1902: Lecture season features Portugal, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Manager Louis Francis Brown coins the term "travelogue" for a series of shows in London. Switches to 35 mm film (still black-and-white, of course)
1903: Lecture season features Alaska and the Klondike
1904, Sept 14: Andre de la Varre Sr born in Washington D.C.
1904: Lecture season features London and Ireland
1905: Lecture season features Switzerland and the Tirol, and the 1905 Russo-Japanese War with the siege of Port Arthur
1906: Lecture season features an Egyptian journey from Cairo to the Upper Nile
1908: Lecture season features the Olympic Games in Athens. Holmes, at this period in love with Japan and its people, discusses his 1908 trip there in LADIES' HOME JOURNAL (Nov. 1908).
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
1911: Lecture season features South America—Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile, Rio de Janeiro
1912: Lecture season features West Indies and the Panama Canal; also British India
1912/13: "The Panama Canal" becomes most popular travelogue ever
1913: Lecture season features Philippines (second visit)
1914: March 22: BH marries Margaret Oliver in NYC; honeymoons in Atlantic City
1914-17: World War I restricts travel, so films in the U.S, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands
1915: "Down in Dixie" travelogue not popular success
1915 — 1921: Signs with Paramount, makes 52 travel shorts every year. Holmes in California, as part of the Mather Mountain Party
1914, Oct 25: Robert M. Mallett born
1918: As a war correspondent, BH shoots army scenes on the Western Front
1924: Andre de la Varre Sr. meets BH and begins working as cameraman and assistant for next eleven years
1927-28: BH lecture series, "Happy Hawaii," "Days in Paris," "More Days and Some Nights in Paris," and "The New Austria.".
1928-29: BH lecture series, "Gibraltar to the Pyrenees," in three parts, and "The Irish Free State."
1929/1930: BH signs with MGM to do talking films.
1932: Andre Sr travels with BH to Japan and Indonesia
1932: BH buys Topside, former home of Francis X. Bushman, in Hollywood. Leases it out to Francis Hollander
1932, April 5: Program: Rotary Club of Chicago Luncheon Progam. Andre LaVarre, chief cameraman for Burton Holmes presents motion pictures of the Coronation of the Emperor of Abyssinia
1933: "The Century of Progress Exposition" travelogue not popular success
1933: BH debuts on radio
1933: Program: Andre LaVarre fellow traveler of Burton Holmes presents three film talks: Paris, Abyssinia and Bali, booked by The Emerson Bureau, Chicago. Andre’s address is listed as 2 West 67th st, which was Burton Holmes NY apartment where he was living at the time.
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.
1933: Program: Carnegie Hall, Pittsburgh, Vienna Life, an illustrated travelogue by Burton Holmes with motion pictures by Andre La Varre
1934: BH visits Russia and loves the place; writes The Traveler's Russia, which sells poorly
1935: Andre de la Varre stops working with BH
1935: Robert R. Hollingsworth born.
1936, Sept 11: Letter from BH at Hotel Ambassador in Paris to Andre La Varre in Vienna talking about seeing color film Andre shot, a new Sinclair camera, and several comments about funds
1936, Sept 16: Letter from BH at Hotel Walter-Garni in Lugano to Andre.
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. Walter Everest of Boston joins BHT as Manager.
1939, July: Thayer Soule (TS) 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.
1940: BHT begins using 16 mm Kodachrome film to replace monochrome 35 mm for its film work. Soule 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
1941: BH and Thayer Soule 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
1946: BH moves into Topside for part of each year.
1946: TS and Joe Franklin make new shows "The Road to Panama" and "The Great Southwest"
1946-47: BH sells Manhattan apartment "Nirvana" to Robert Ripley.
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"
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 BH doing filming but eventually leaves for the BBC and NBC.
1947-57 (?): The BH "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
1948: WABC-TV in New York City runs a series of travel shows, including some using BH films. TS presents "The Road to Panama"
1948-51: BH 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.
1949: Santa Fe Railroad asks BH 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.
1949: TS presents "Sweden" and "Switzerland." TS and Glen Howit (projectionist for BH) first meet Robert Mallett (RM) 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.
1950: BHT begins to use tape recordings to provide occasional music supplementing the narration. TS presents "Hawaii" and "Around the World"
1950-53: George W. "Bill" Perkins and Lowell Wentworth make film on New England for BHT, but soon leave the company
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.
1951: TS presents "South Africa" and "The Eastern Congo"
1952: TS presents "England," "Australia," "New England," and "France"
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.”
1953: TS and RH make new films "Charm of the South" and "Hawaii". TS presents "Spain," Germany," and "The Mediterranean"
1954: TS presents "Mexico," "Colorado," and "Italy"
1955: TS presents "Cairo to Baghdad," "Switzerland," and "The Caribbean"
1956: TS presents "Charm of the South" and "Portugal"
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
1957: TS presents "Hawaii," "The Great Northwest," and "Alaska"
1958: TS presents "The Golden West," and "Bermuda, Nassau, Miami."
1958: Thayer Soule resigns to focus on his own travel shows
1958: Andre de la Varre Sr returns to work with Burton Holmes Inc
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.
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
1963: Program: Burton Holmes Travelogues presents The Pacific Northwest, Films by Robert Hollingsworth, narration by Robert Mallett. The 70th Anniversary series 1893-1963
1963: Program: Portugal filmed by Andre de la Varre, edited and narrated by Andre de la Varre Jr.
1964: Program: Burton Holmes Travelogues presents The Great West filmed by Robert Hollingsworth and narrated by Robert Mallett. Season 1964 (71st Year)
1964: Program: Burton Holmes Travelogues Presents Grand Tour of Europe Produced and Directed by Andre de la Varre and narrated in person by Andre de la Varre Jr.
1965: Program: Andre de la Varre Jr presents a Burton Holmes Theatrical Travelogue “London and Paris by Day and By Night”
1965: Program: Burton Holmes Theatrical Travelogues and Andre de la Varre presents Fabulous Spain
1967: Walter Everest dies.
1968: Margaret Holmes dies. Burial in Columbarium at Forest Lawn, Glendale CA.
1968: Louise E. Wood resigns from Burton Holmes Inc.
1970: Last Burton Holmes Inc. travel lectures: "Switzerland," "Fabulous Texas," "East Africa," "Alaska to the Andes"
1970's-80's: Burton Holmes Inc, under the direction of Robert Mallett and Robert Holingsworth changes focus 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.
Mid-late 1980's: BHI building is sold and new landlord wants higher rent. BHI, which has been struggling to stay afloat, closes down.
1984: In an Austrian newspaper interview Andre de la Varre Sr says he was involved in making 150 Burton Holmes Travelogues
1989: Andre de la Varre Sr. dies in Vienna, Austria