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)





Eyes on the Past: Saving Alaska’s History

Date Posted: January 17, 2021       Categories: News

The Alaska Film Archives has kicked off the new semester by posting a throwback YouTube video in honor of the Alaska and Polar Regions Collections & Archives at Elmer E. Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks. The 15-minute video “Eyes on the Past: Saving Alaska’s History” celebrates UAF’s archival collections by highlighting the Alaska Steamship Company Collection, consisting of the company’s business records, publications, books and photographs.

*Eyes on the Past: Saving Alaska’s History*              Click here to view video

This 1990 program celebrates archival collections at University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). Established in 1965, the Alaska and Polar Regions Collections & Archives (APRCA) has more than tripled in size over the 30 years since this video was made. APRCA continues to welcome and serve students and researchers from UAF and from around the world. This video highlights and examines one large collection in particular: the Alaska Steamship Company Collection, consisting of the company’s business records, publications, books and photographs. The Alaska Steamship Company plied Alaskan waters for many decades. Beginning in 1895, its ships hauled gold stampeders, supplies, tourists, copper and other goods. In later years the
company’s focus shifted exclusively to shipping freight. In 1971, after 75 years in business, the company ceased operations; it was the longest-running shipping firm in history up to that point. This video program was researched, written and produced by Dan O’Neill, videotaped and edited by Tom Wolf, and narrated by Ann Secrest, with audio by Jack Johnson and Jody Paulson. Interviewees include archivist Gretchen Lake, collector and donor Jack Dillon, and Alaska historian Terrence Cole. Special thanks are given to Paul McCarthy, David Hales, Terrence Cole, Gretchen Lake, Marge Naylor, Mary Goodwin, William Schneider, Rose Speranza, and Kyle O’Neill. The video was produced by the IMPACT department of the UAF Rasmuson Library. This sequence is an excerpt from AAF-3982 from the UAF Marketing and Communications collection held by the Alaska Film Archives, a unit of the Alaska and Polar Regions Collections & Archives Department in the Elmer E. Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks. For more information please contact the Alaska Film Archives at (907) 474-5357 http://archives.library.uaf.edu/

*Eyes on the Past: Saving Alaska’s History*:   https://youtu.be/0QMgDEylNL0





Lecture: Sinking of the Good Ship DORA

Date Posted: January 17, 2021       Categories: News

The 100th Anniversary Lecture: Sinking of the Good Ship DORA

By J. Pennelope Goforth

Cook Inlet Historical Society, 2020-2021 Speaker Series, “Disasters”

Thursday January 21, 2021    7:00PM

Join us online for a free virtual CIHS lecture.

Advance registration is required to receive the link. Please register directly on the Anchorage Museum website:

https://www.anchoragemuseum.org/visit/calendar/details/?id=64069

The staunch little steamer Dora served in Alaskan waters her entire career: delivering the mail, transporting food and goods from Southeast Alaskan ports all the way to Bristol Bay and rescuing hundreds lost at sea. Sold into the cod fishery she made her last voyage to Alaska with a green crew when tragedy struck in the winter of 1920. This talk will be a celebration of her life and a commemoration of her tragic sinking one hundred years ago.

This is the third talk in the Cook Inlet Historical Society’s 2020-2021 Speaker Series, “Disasters.”

J. Pennelope Goforth has been a member of coastal historical societies for many years researching and writing about Alaska history. She has been a member of the Historic Canneries Preservation Initiative and served as editor of the Alaska Historical Society’s cannery blog, and as guest editor for the Puget Sound Historical Maritime Society’s widely-regarded journal, The Sea Chest. She curated and created an online portal for the Port of Alaska’s historic scrapbooks. She is the author of Sailing the Mail in Alaska and has a maritime research website, www.seacatexplorations.com.





Elizabeth Peratrovich Google Doodle

Date Posted: January 10, 2021       Categories: News

On December 30, 2020, Alaska’s own Elizabeth Peratrovich was the featured image in the Google logo.

According to Google:

The Doodle, illustrated by Sitka, Alaska-based guest artist Michaela Goade, celebrates Alaska Native civil rights champion Elizabeth Peratrovich, who played an instrumental role in the 1945 passage of the first anti-discrimination law in the United States. On this day in 1941, after encountering an inn door sign that read “No Natives Allowed,” Peratrovich and her husband–both of Alaska’s Indigenous Tlingit tribe–helped plant the seed for the anti-discrimination law when they wrote a letter to Alaska’s governor and gained his support.

Elizabeth Peratrovich—whose Tlingit name is Kaaxgal.aat, a member of the Lukaax̱.ádi clan of the Raven moiety—was born on July 4, 1911 in Petersburg, Alaska during a time of extensive segregation in the territory. She was lovingly raised by adoptive parents, living in various small Southeast Alaska communities throughout her childhood. With a passion for teaching, Peratrovich attended college in Bellingham, Washington where she also became reacquainted with her husband, Roy Peratrovich, who was a student at the same school. The couple married and moved to Klawock, Alaska where their role in local politics and Elizabeth’s knack for leadership drove her heavy involvement with the Alaska Native Sisterhood, one of the oldest civil rights groups in the world, leading to her eventual appointment as the organization’s Grand President.

Seeking better access to lawmakers who could help effect change, the Peratrovichs moved in 1941 with their three children to the Alaskan capital of Juneau, where they were met with blatant discrimination. When attempting to buy a home in their new city, they were denied when the sellers saw they were of Alaska Native descent. Instances like these were unfortunately common for Alaska’s Indigenous peoples and further motivated Peratrovich to take action in the name of systemic change.

Elizabeth and Roy worked with others to draft Alaska’s first anti-discrimination bill, which was introduced in 1941 and failed to pass. On February 5, 1945 following years of perseverance, a second anti-discrimination bill was brought before the Alaska Senate, and Peratrovich took to the floor to deliver an impassioned call for equal treatment for Indigenous peoples. She was met with thunderous applause throughout the gallery, and her moving testimony is widely credited as a decisive factor in the passage of the historic Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945.

In 1988 the Alaska State Legislature declared February 16 as “Elizabeth Peratrovich Day,” and in 2020 the United States Mint released a $1 gold coin inscribed with Elizabeth’s likeness in honor of her historic achievements in the fight for equality.

For more about Elizabeth Peratrovich and the illustration, see Google’s page: “Celebrating Elizabeth Peratrovich.”

Fighter in Velvet Gloves: Alaska Civil Rights Hero Elizabeth Peratrovich by Annie Boochever and Roy Peratrovich, Jr. (University of Alaska Press, 2019)

“Elizabeth Peratrovich’s Legacy is Immense. It Doesn’t Need to be Artificially Inflated.”  Editorial by Ross Coen, Anchorage Daily News newspaper, January 1, 2021.





UAF Course: North American Energy History

Date Posted: January 10, 2021       Categories: News

The History Department at the University of Alaska Fairbanks is pleased to announce a new course titled North American Energy History being taught this Spring 2021 semester by Dr. Philip Wight. They are looking for students to join the course in these last final days of class registration before the new semester starts.

North American Energy History is an upper-level history course that examines how energy resources, regimes, and transitions have fueled human history. Over the course of millennia, humans have utilized traditional knowledge, science, and technology to discover and harness new energy sources—from the organic sources of flesh, timber, wind, and water, to a mineral energy revolution with the combustion of peat, coal, oil, and natural gas. In this class, we will ask the big questions that have defined our past: How have American and Canadian energy systems evolved over time, and why? In what ways did the struggle to control and deploy energy shape North American politics, culture, and economic development? What have been the impacts of energy transitions on social and environmental change? How did these energy regimes shape the far north? In these explorations, we will highlight the tensions, ironies, and paradoxes of these energies. With each energy transition, humanity liberated itself from one limiting energy resource, only to create new dependencies and unforeseen problems. All new energies at first appeared utopian, but inevitably wrought their own costs and consequences. Only by reckoning with these complex histories can we understand our current energy crises and forge a sustainable path forward.

Dr. Philip Wight is an Assistant Professor of History and the Arctic and Northern Studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He studies histories of energy and the environment, with a focus on infrastructure, transportation, and science and technology. His forthcoming book, “Arctic Artery: The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System and the World It Made”, examines the long history of Alaska’s most important energy infrastructure.

If you have any questions about the course, contact Philip Wight at pawight@alaska.edu and if you’d like help registering for the class contact the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) comprehensive advisor, Kathy Nava. She can be reached phone (907) 474-6542 and by email ksnava@alaska.edu. You can also sign up for an online appointment here: https://uaf.edu/cla/students/advising/

CLA recently put together a video trailer about the new class that can be viewed at the following: Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/UAF.CLA/videos/1503266476549872  YouTube: https://youtu.be/P1AKFnxyZe8





2020 Conference Presentation Recordings

Date Posted: December 12, 2020       Categories: News

Good news!

The recordings of the presentations at the 2020 Alaska Historical Society’s annual conference that was held virtually from Oct. 8-10 and 15-17 are now available free online to the public at: https://alaskahistoricalsociety.org/about-ahs/conference/presentations/

You do not have to have been a registered conference participant to view these recordings.

We hope you enjoy this opportunity to view sessions or presentations you may have missed or want to revisit and listen to more closely. Something fun to do during our cold, dark winter days, the holiday season, or isolation of a COVID lockdown!

Wishing everyone good health and a better 2021!

Karen Brewster, AHS Board Member and Website and Conference Technical Coordinator