AHS Blog

Alaska Out of the Vault Podcast

Date Posted: July 17, 2017       Categories: News

With a grant from the Alaska Historical Commission, Anjuli Grantham has produced a special podcast called “Alaska Out of the Vault” that examines Alaska in the decades around the Treaty of Cession. It focuses on what was occurring in Alaska–not in Washington, DC–and what themes and transitions were afoot rather than the big, iconic moments that tend to receive the most attention.

Unangan puffin skin parka, circa 1880s. Photo courtesy of Alaska State Museum.

Anjuli selected objects to communicate stories that relate truths about Alaska in the 1800s, and conducted interviews with anthropologists, historians, museum curators, and Alaska Native people to help provide broader context. Four episodes cover how Alaska Natives were impacted by the Russian-American Company, how the transition to American military rule played out on the ground, and how American businesses and capitalism transformed lives and cultures.

You can listen to the podcast at www.anjuligrantham.com/alaskaoutofthevault, or find “Alaska Out of the Vault” wherever you listen to podcasts.

For more information, contact Anjuli Grantham at www.anjuligrantham.com.

Soliciting Award Nominations

Date Posted: June 7, 2017       Categories: News

The Alaska Historical Society is soliciting nominations for its 2017 Awards given annually at our conference. This year’s conference is September 27-30, 2017 in Anchorage. The available awards are listed below. See the Alaska Historical Society Awards page for lists of previous winners.

Nomination deadline is August 15, 2017.

Please send nominations to Michael Hawfield, Awards Committee Chair, mchawfield@alaska.edu.


The Evangeline Atwood Award is given to an individual for significant long-term contributions to Alaska state or local history. The award is named for one of the founders of the Alaska Historical Society who wrote, supported, and advocated for Alaska history from the 1940s into the 1990s.

The Elva R. Scott Local Historical Society Award recognizes a community historical society or museum for its newsletter, a publication, programs, or other significant recent accomplishment. Elva Scott was a founder of Homer’s Pratt Museum and for over 20 years the tireless, creative and talented editor of the Eagle Historical Society newsletter.

The Jim Ducker Historian of the Year Award is given to an Alaska resident for publication of notable new material about Alaska history this past year.

The Barbara Sweetland Smith Pathfinder Award recognizes contributions to the discovery and description of resources relating to Alaska history.

The Esther Billman Certificate of Excellence recognizes a state or local society, museum, government agency, or an organization that has completed a project contributing to the preservation and understanding of Alaska history during the past year. Esther Billman’s efforts to preserve Alaska history and develop the Sheldon Jackson Museum are commemorated by the award now given in her name.

Contributions to Alaska History Award recognizes an individual or individuals who have made singular and significant recent contributions to Alaska history.

75th Anniversary of the Bombing of Dutch Harbor/Unalaska and the Aleut Evacuation

Date Posted: May 31, 2017       Categories: 49 History

By Nicolette Dent, Community Assistance Fellow, National Park Service, Alaska Region, Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program

AAC History Office Collection, Anchorage Museum, B1980.075.13

On June 3 and 4, 1942, Dutch Harbor was attacked by Japanese bombers. This changed the course of the Aleutian Campaign of World War II and the lives of nearly 900 Unangax^ people who were suddenly uprooted and taken to internment camps in Southeast Alaska. Many villagers were unable to resettle in their homes after being released from these camps. These events forever changed the lives of those who experienced World War II in the Aleutians.

To honor this little-known but significant history, Unalaska will host a three-day commemoration in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Bombing of Dutch Harbor/Unalaska and the Aleut Evacuation. The program kicks off with welcome messages from the Ounalashka Corporation, National Park Service, Qawalangin Tribe, Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, and City of Unalaska Mayor Frank Kelty. Public events throughout the weekend include presentations about World War II and the evacuation, and a chance to meet veterans, elders, and relatives of evacuees, some of whom have traveled great distances to honor this history. The commemoration will close with a memorial ceremony to honor the armed forces who died in the bombing and those Unangax^ who died while interned. Governor Bill Walker, Senator Lisa Murkowski, and military representatives from the U.S. and Canada will join in to share their own words of peace and healing at the ceremony.

For more information about events, see the group Facebook page at: facebook.com/75DutchHarbor

The National Park Service has a website with the public schedule  as well: https://www.nps.gov/aleu/planyourvisit/75th-anniversary-dutch-harbor.htm

Recent Alaska Dispatch News article and video: https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/2017/05/27/pilots-to-fly-historic-military-planes-to-dutch-harbor-for-75th-anniversary-of-bombing/

70th Anniversary of the 4th Avenue Theatre Celebration

Date Posted: May 26, 2017       Categories: 49 History

By Sara Piasecki and Angela Demma

This weekend, Anchorage’s iconic 4th Avenue Theatre turns 70. The aging lady is in peril, say the Friends of the 4th Avenue Theatre, since the current owners applied for and received a permit to demolish the structure. Last month, the state historical commission declared the site culturally and historically significant, and will be considering whether to ask the state to designate the theater as a state historic site or monument. The Friends have organized a slew of weekend events to celebrate the theater’s storied past:

4th Avenue Theatre mural. Dennis Hellawell, 4th Avenue Theatre Collection, Anchorage Museum, B2009.020.13

Festivities for the 70th Anniversary of the 4th Avenue Theatre will begin at 1:00 pm on Saturday, May 27th in front of the Theatre. Saturday’s program will include storytellers; appearances by Ron Holmstrom as Cap Lathrop; performances by the Anchorage Jazz Ensemble, The Blue Notes, and Blackwater Railroad Company; and screening of “The Sword in the Stone”—which was playing during the Good Friday earthquake and “The World in His Arms” which had its premiere here in Anchorage in 1952. FREE event. Food trucks will also be present.

Sunday’s program will begin at 2 pm at the Anchorage Museum. “Cap Lathrop” will introduce the 1924 silent film “Chechahcos” in the auditorium. The screening will be followed by a short presentation by Chris Beheim about the making of the film.

Monday’s program will begin at 7pm at the Anchorage Museum. The Design Forum will host a panel of architects to discuss the future possibilities for the Theatre.

For more information, see the Alaska Association for Historic Preservation 4the Avenue Theatre Update web site at http://www.aahp-online.net/4th-avenue-theatre-update.html

New Deadline for Travel Scholarships – June 20, 2017

Date Posted: May 25, 2017       Categories: News

Student and Emerging Professional Awards
2017 Annual Meeting
Anchorage, September 27 – 30, 2017

The Alaska Historical Society offers two travel awards for its annual meeting in Anchorage, September 27 – 30, 2017. One award will be presented to a post-secondary student who is researching some aspect of Alaska history, and another to an emerging professional in the field. Awards consists of reimbursement for documented travel expenses up to $750 plus a conference registration package.

• An applicant must be a member of the Alaska Historical Society at the time of applying.
• Student applicants must be graduate students or upper-division undergraduates in fall 2017 with a course of study related to Alaska history.
• Emerging professional applicants must be employed in Alaska historical or cultural work and have been so employed for less than five years.
• Applicants are required to attend the meeting in its entirety and make a presentation at the meeting (proposals send to Program Committee, PO Box 100299, Anchorage, AK 99510).
• Information about the meeting and the call for papers are at http://www.alaskahistoricalsociety.org/

Application process: Each applicant must submit 1) letter with a statement of eligibility and an explanation of how attending the meeting will enhance academic or professional development, 2) title and abstract of proposed presentation, and 3) CV or résumé. Applications will be judged on the applicant’s achievement in Alaska history relative to current status and the likely benefit of the meeting for the applicant.

The application deadline is June 20. Electronic submission is preferred. Applications should be submitted electronically to Professor Michael Hawfield, AHS Awards Committee at: mchawfield@alaska.edu , or via regular mail to: AHS Awards, PO Box 100299, Anchorage, AK 99510.