Alaska’s Cultural Resource Agencies: Guardians Of Our Heritage

The Alaska Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums is in the Department of Education and Early Development.  The Alaska Office of History and Archaeology is in the Division of Parks, Department of Natural Resources. The Alaska and Polar Regions Collections & Archives is in the Elmer E. Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks.  The Archives & Special Collections is in the University of Alaska Anchorage/Alaska Pacific University Consortium Library.

The Alaska State Museum at Juneau and the Sheldon Jackson Museum at Sitka (AS14.57.010) collect and preserve the evidence of Alaska’s past and provide exhibits and programs to educate the public.  Staff assist other museums and cultural centers around the state.  The museums care for and administer a collection of over 40,000 priceless and irreplaceable objects.

Established in 1900, the Alaska Historical Collections (AS 14.56.080) in the Alaska State Library is a repository for historical manuscripts, photographs, newspapers, maps, films, books and other publications, along with personal collections.  The Alaska Historical Collections preserves the first copy of any state publication.  It maintains the master microfilms of Alaska newspapers (1866-present).  The materials are arranged, described, and cataloged to national standards.  At-risk materials, such as glass plates, fragile documents, rare books and maps, receive conservation treatment and archival housing.

The Alaska State Archives (AS 40.21) is the repository for original territorial and state government records.  The records date back to 1873, shortly after the U.S. purchased Alaska from Russia, and are as current as last year’s State Legislature.  The records are in a variety of formats:  paper, film, photographic, and electronic.  Staff assist state government offices with records and information management services.  It is leading digitization and electronic records policies and initiatives for the state.  The archives provide essential resources for legislative researchers, state agency personnel, and citizens.

Contact:  Patience Frederiksen, Director, 907.465.2911


The Alaska Historic Preservation Act (AS 41.35), enacted in 1970, led to creation of the Alaska Office of History and Archaeology in the Department of Natural Resources.  It is mandated to carry out programs to save and know the state’s heritage.  Programs include administering the federal historic preservation program in Alaska, providing research services to state agencies, providing technical assistance to communities and owners regarding historic properties, reviewing projects for impacts to historic properties, and maintaining an inventory of archaeological and historic sites frequently used by developers and land managers.  The Alaska Historical Commission, supported by the office, has statutory responsibilities including serving as the review board for state geographic names and historic preservation programs.

Contact:  Judy Bittner, State Historic Preservation Officer, 907.269.8700


The Alaska and Polar Regions Collections & Archives at the University of Alaska Fairbanks was founded in 1965. It is the repository for the University of Alaska statewide administration, as well as housing materials related to Alaska, the circumpolar North, and Antarctica. The Alaska and Polar Regions Collections & Archives contains a film archive holding more than 10,000 unique Alaska films and videos, an Oral History Program with over 11,000 recordings from throughout the state, an extensive rare book and map collection dating from the 15th century to the 21st, over one million photographs of Alaska dating from 1870, and thousands of manuscript collections from personal, governmental, and commercial sources. The Alaska and Polar Regions Collections & Archives strives to provide insight into Alaska’s history and people by providing public access to rich and unique resources both in-person and through a variety of digital projects.

Contact: Rachel Cohen, Archivist, 907.474.6632


The Archives & Special Collections at the University of Alaska Anchorage/Alaska Pacific University Consortium Library collects and preserves records that document Alaska’s past and present and makes them accessible to the public In addition to supporting the education and research missions of the universities, Archives & Special Collections performs a special service mission as a community conservator of the papers and records of persons, families, organizations, associations, and businesses. Record formats include textual documents, photographs, moving image, audio, and born-digital and digitized materials. The collections cover a wide variety of subjects: history, medicine anthropology, public policy, social sciences, humanities, science disciplines, engineering and many more.

Contact: Arlene Schmuland, Archivist, 907.786.1849