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16 Dec 2019 23:38
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  •   Home > News > International

    Greta Thunberg 'time traveller' photo 'most definitely' original, library confirms

    A US library confirms the photograph of a girl who bears a striking resemblance to teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg is authentic, while simultaneously bursting the bubble of those jokingly suggesting the image had revealed a time-travelling conspir

    A US library has confirmed the photograph of a girl who bears a striking resemblance to teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg is authentic, while simultaneously bursting the bubble of those jokingly suggesting the image had revealed a time-travelling conspiracy.

    The photograph, originally taken by Eric Hegg during the Klondyke gold rush in 1898, has been shared across the internet in recent days.

    While some wryly claimed time travel could explain the girl in the photograph's likeness to the Swedish teenager, others queried whether the image was photoshopped.

    In a blog post on Friday morning, the University of Washington, dismissed the claim the image was manipulated as "most definitely not the case".

    "As part of the UW Libraries Special Collections, the photo in question is an original," the post said.

    So who is the girl in the photo?

    We don't know.

    The library record of the photo does not list the name of the girl or the two other children.

    Hegg's caption simply read: "Youths operating gold mines on Dominion. Klondyke, YT".

    There aren't any other details about the girl.

    But it's likely the girl's name was never recorded as an important detail. It's also possible details about her were lost somewhere along the way.

    "The Hegg collection came into the Libraries Special Collections in the 1960s, pre-dating modern record keeping that would illuminate more detailed information, such as who donated the collection, or prior ownership," the Washington University post read.

    The image was taken at Dominion Creek, a remote location in Canada near the border with Alaska.

    It was taken during the Klondike Gold Rush between 1897 and 1901, which saw more than 100,000 people flock to the region, hoping to strike it rich.

    The population boomed, but many left when they found locals had already claimed the gold-bearing creeks for themselves. It's possible the girl moved on from Dominion Creek after the rush.

    Where — or when — she went to next is the topic of wild speculation in comment threads.

    Thunberg a time traveller? (No. Obviously)

    The first rumours of Ms Thunberg's time travelling were whispered a few weeks ago, after Allison White noticed something remarkable about a historical photo she saw during a dinner at a popular dining hub in Seattle.

    "We were leaving the restaurant and it's just a random hanging picture directly opposite of The Crab Pot," she said.

    "I glanced in the general direction and totally lost it — she stuck out, I knew immediately who the pictured child resembled.

    "I'm a huge fan of Greta and everything she's doing."

    The photo was shared and reposted on social media hundreds of thousands of times, appearing on news sites from CNN to People Magazine.

    Author Jack Strange posed the time-travelling theory in a tweet that attracted more than 50,000 likes.

    Fuelled by that response, Strange elaborated in a subsequent blog post, which opens with the acknowledgment that he loves "ridiculous" conspiracy theories.

    He also pointed out Ms Thunberg's popularity appeared to come out of nowhere, "almost as if she flew into our space time continuum".

    Ms Thunberg, who is currently on a yacht headed for Portugal, is yet to comment on the viral photo.

    "Conspiracy theories aside, we are delighted that the collection is receiving attention because it underscores the historical importance of the images as well the unique role that Libraries and other archives play, not only in safekeeping, but in telling these stories, and ensuring accessibility," interim director for the UW Libraries Special Collections Lisa Oberg said.

    Ms White told the ABC she thought the conspiracy theories were a bit of fun, hopeful the teenager's climate advocacy makes a difference.

    "I hope the world will listen, not just to her, but to scientific facts," she said. "The answers are in front of us, we just need our political leaders to jump on board."

    © 2019 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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