AHS Blog

Importance of Archives

Date Posted: February 15, 2019       Categories: 49 History News

In 2018, the Alaska Historical Society (AHS) made protecting our state’s archives its advocacy priority. As part of this effort, AHS launched the Archives Video Project to highlight how archive collections are the irreplaceable basic sources of historical research. By emphasizing how collections are used in research, these videos hope to bring attention to the rich resources in the state’s archives. Public support for archives is a continuing priority of the Alaska Historical Society.

The following video testimonials from researchers around the state emphasize the key role archives have played in their work:

Dr. William Schneider on the Importance of Archives
University of Alaska Fairbanks Professor Emeritus Dr. William Schneider talks about researching and examining historical photographs in archives. Schneider’s book “The Tanana Chiefs: Native Rights and Western Law,” was published in 2018. This video (copyright Alaska Historical Society, 2018) was made possible through contributions of private individuals. For more information, please contact William Schneider: wsschneider@alaska.edu
with captions: https://youtu.be/Lx4CkvDyRbQ
without captions: https://youtu.be/CXeHcnqSJdI

Dr. Mary Ehrlander on the Importance of Archives
Dr. Mary F. Ehrlander, professor of History and co-director of Arctic and Northern Studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, talks about her experience using archives to write her 2017 book “Walter Harper, Alaska Native Son.” The biography covers the life and story of Walter Harper, the son of a Koyukon-Athabascan mother and an Irish immigrant father, who in 1913 became the first person to reach the summit of Denali, North America’s highest mountain. This video (copyright Alaska Historical Society, 2018) was made possible through contributions of private individuals. For more information, please contact William Schneider: wsschneider@alaska.edu
with captions: https://youtu.be/D5g6JeK-uzE
without captions: https://youtu.be/fXXkyceNI4E

Professor Rob Prince on the Importance of Archives
Associate Professor Rob Prince of the Communication and Journalism Department at the University of Alaska Fairbanks talks about how his students have been using archives to delve into an ongoing mystery on campus. Archaeologist Otto Geist may have buried several mammoth tusks on the UAF campus during the 1930s. Where are those tusks today? Professor Prince and his students searched the archives for clues. This video (copyright Alaska Historical Society, 2018) was made possible through contributions of private individuals. For more information, please contact William Schneider: wsschneider@alaska.edu
with captions: https://youtu.be/cTos16–TkM
without captions: https://youtu.be/qHljBSLx6YQ

Dr. Jennifer Stone on the Importance of Archives
Dr. Jennifer Stone, Professor of English at the University of Alaska Anchorage, works with students at the UAA/APU Consortium Library’s Archives and Special Collections. Dr. Stone has integrated the archives into her curriculum in creative and innovative ways. Watch how her students have responded to this approach, and learn more about how the archives enrich the classroom experience of Alaska’s students. This video (copyright Alaska Historical Society, 2019) was made possible through contributions of private individuals and with the assistance of Ian Hartman, Assistant Professor of History at the University of Alaska Anchorage. For more information, please contact William Schneider: wsschneider@alaska.edu.
without captions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvYbAxf5VQA
(for auto-generated captions, click on the cc button in the lower-right corner of the YouTube screen)

Immediate Action Required: Proposed Closure of National Archives in Seattle

Date Posted: January 21, 2020       Categories: News


The Alaska Historical Society is sounding the alarm.  There is a proposal to close the Seattle National Archives and Records Center.  Please consider speaking up—every comment matters!

The Alaska Historical Society is recommending the National Archives continue to have a branch facility in the Pacific Northwest. 

The Federal Public Buildings Reform Board, created by Congress in 2016 to identify and dispose of high-value Federal real estate, is recommending the sale of the building that houses the National Archives in Seattle.  The report, only submitted December 27, 2019, can be found at https://www.pbrb.gov/   The Office of Management and Budget is expected to approve or reject the recommendations by the end of January 2020.

For over 50 years the National Archives has operated the Seattle archives and records center.  The records from the National Archives center in Anchorage were moved there when it closed in 2014.  If the Seattle facility is closed, the closest NARA facility for Alaskans will be in San Francisco.  The report indicates the archival records at Seattle will be moved near Riverside, California, and the federal agency records will be moved to Kansas City, Missouri.  Alaska materials will not only be farther out of reach for researchers, students, attorneys, and government agencies, but the closure of the Seattle facility likely will delay the digitization of Alaska records promised by NARA when it closed the facility in Anchorage.

The Society is contacting Alaska’s Congressional delegation and those in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.  It is seeking to collaborate with their state historical societies to advocate for continuing to have a National Archives and Records Center in the Pacific Northwest.

It is vital that individuals comment to the Public Buildings Reform Board and to our elected representatives.

Comments on the recommendations can be made to the Public Buildings Reform Board by sending an email to fastainfo@pbrb.gov

Comments on the recommendations are encouraged to be sent to Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Representative Don Young.  They should be sent by email through their webpages: murkowski.senate.gov; sullivan.senate.gov; donyoung.house.gov

The Archivist of the United States, David S. Ferriero, also needs to hear there needs to be a National Archives and Records Center in the Pacific Northwest.  Comments can be sent to him at david.ferriero@nara.gov or through the webpage archives.gov

Please send your comments this week.  Thank you!

Job Opportunity: Assistant Archivist at UAF

Date Posted: January 14, 2020       Categories: News

The Alaska Polar Regions Collection and Archives at UAF is hiring for an Assistant Archivist to work with our patrons directly in public services.

Have you ever been the person at a party talking about the cool 1905 photograph you found in a thrift store? Does the phrase “history immersion” excite you? Do you love people and helping them? Does creating order make you happy? If so, then you may be the perfect candidate for the Public Services Assistant Archivist position at the Alaska and Polar Regions Collections and Archives! The University of Alaska Fairbanks seeks engaging, team-oriented applicants for the position of Assistant Archivist.

More information is available at: https://careers.alaska.edu/en-us/job/514234/assistant-archivist

This is a great entry level position for someone interested in archives and special collections work. The posting closes on January 28th, 2020.

KTVA FRONTIERS PROGRAM — Dick Proenneke: At Home in the Wilderness

Date Posted: December 20, 2019       Categories: News

Dick Proenneke eating fresh blueberries in a spot along the Chilikadrotna River. © MAGGIE YURICK. Courtesy of National Parks and Conservation Association.

After two years of research and production, Rhonda McBride & Will Mader are pleased to announce completion of their film about Dick Proenneke, a self-educated naturalist who lived alone for nearly thirty years in the mountains of Alaska in a log cabin that he constructed by hand near the shore of Twin Lakes in what is now Lake Clark National Park and Preserve.

Rhonda says, “Will Mader and I have been working on this show, off and on, for more than two years — and have turned to many of you for help. We want to thank you for your patience and support.  We hope this show raises awareness about a great Alaskan, who is probably better known outside our state. Somehow, that just shouldn’t be. So here’s our attempt to change that.”

There are two versions of the program. The half hour show has these elements:

-Dick Proenneke’s Personal Frontier: The story of how Dick Proenneke became a wilderness icon.
-Handmade Home: Efforts to restore Dick’s Cabin.
-Keepers of the Legacy, the Journals: John Branson talks about editing more than 90 pounds of notebooks.
-Keepers of the Legacy, the Archive: Katie Myers shows us the Dick Proenneke collection at the NPS archives in Anchorage.

The one hour version of the show includes these additional elements:

-Friends and Neighbors: With help from the NPS and the Alaska Moving Image Preservation Association, a look at friendships Dick had with his nearest neighbors — Jay and Bella Hammond and the Alsworth Family.
-Wilderness Princess: Former NPS Ranger Patty Brown talks about her friendship with Dick, who she said made her feel like “royalty” and how she came to hop off a float plane, landing at Twin Lakes, in a black evening gown.
-Friends of Dick Proenneke and Lake Clark: Fred Hirschmann shares his memories of Dick and talks about the need to protect and preserve the Proenneke homestead.

Here’s how you can watch the KTVA Frontiers program, Dick Proenneke: At Home in the Wilderness:

Sunday, December 22nd:  30 min Version 
KTVA, Channel 11, 5:00pm
GCI Cable Channel 907, 8:30 a.m., 10:30 p.m.
Saturday, December 28th: 1 Hour Version 
KTVA, Channel 11, 3:00pm
ARCS TV, 3:00pm
ONLINE:  Sometimes KTVA streams its on air signal, so you might check online. We will post the full one-hour online version of the show on Sunday, December 22nd. It will also be live on Youtube. Just search KTVA Frontiers Episode 194.

For more information about the program, contact:
Rhonda McBride
KTVA Channel 11, Rural Projects Manager/Host of Frontiers
Cell:  (907) 903-4800      Email: ktvafrontiers@gmail.com

For more about Dick Proenneke and his legacy, see “Reflections on a Man in his Wilderness” in the Spring 2017 edition of the National Parks and Conservation Association Magazine.

Wyoming First to Celebrate Women’s Suffrage

Date Posted: December 20, 2019       Categories: News

With the upcoming 100th anniversary of women earning the right to vote in the United States, it is interesting to note that on December 10, 1869, the Wyoming territory became the first in the nation to guarantee women unconditional suffrage including the right to vote, hold public office and serve on a jury – 50 years before the 19th Amendment allowed the same rights throughout the United States.

On December 10, 2019, the state of Wyoming celebrated this 150th anniversary of women’s suffrage and Governor Mark Gordon declared it “Wyoming Women’s Suffrage Day.” In Cheyenne, Wyoming’s capital, there were celebrations and activities including a women’s suffrage anniversary march, informative lectures, and tours of the historic and newly renovated State Capitol building. Perhaps similar types of activities can be done in Alaska to mark the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage?

For more about Wyoming’s history of women’s suffrage and anniversary events, see “Wyoming Celebrates Milestone 150th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage” prepared by the Wyoming Office of Tourism.

William Mills Prize for Non-Fiction Polar Books

Date Posted: November 8, 2019       Categories: News

Do you have a favorite book about the northern or southern polar regions? Why not nominate it for the William Mills Prize for Non-Fiction Polar Books? The book must have been published between January 2018 and December 2019, and the nomination deadline is March 31, 2020.

The book prize honors the best Arctic or Antarctic nonfiction books published throughout the world. The prize consists of $500 US, certificates for the author and publisher, and the right to use the William Mills Prize logo when advertising the winning book.

Qualifications for Nomination

  1. The book must be nonfiction, about the Arctic or Antarctic.
  2. The book may be any type of substantive work of nonfiction, or reference resource. Textbooks, anthologies, translations and new editions will not be considered unless they are truly outstanding contributions to polar literature.
  3. Books authored, edited or published by members of the current Polar Libraries Colloquy Steering Committee are not eligible for nomination.
  4. Individuals who are not affiliated with the Polar Libraries Colloquy are welcome to submit nominations.
  5. The book must have been published for the first time within the two calendar years before the Colloquy at which the award will be given. The timeframe for the 2020 award is January 2018 to December 2019.
  6. The official language of the Colloquy is English. For this reason books must be published in an English language version to be eligible.

For more information, please contact the William Mills Prize Coordinator, Julia Finn, at millsprize@gmail.com.

Nomination Process

  1. Nominations must include:
    • Author(s) / Corporate author(s)
    • Title
    • Publisher
    • Date of publication (for the 2020 award, must be between January 2018 and December 2019)
    • Statement of the reasons why the nominator thinks the book should be considered for the prize and the value of the title to polar literature.
  2. Nominations should be sent via email to Julia Finn, William Mills Prize Coordinator, at millsprize@gmail.com.
  3. The deadline to submit a nomination is March 31, 2020.
  4. Winning titles are announced on pollib-L, on the Colloquy web site, in the Polar Libraries Bulletin and other appropriate social media, websites and publications.

Previous William Mills Prize Recipients & Nominees

The William Mills Prize for Non-Fiction Polar Books was established in memory of William Mills, a polar librarian and author, and a core member of Polar Libraries Colloquy during its formative years. The prize was first awarded in 2006.