AHS Blog

Letters to Terrence Cole

Date Posted: October 19, 2020       Categories: News

Since his cancer diagnosis three years ago, retired UAF History Professor and Public Historian Terrence Cole has had to make a lot of difficult decisions relating to his health, and he recently made the decision to go into hospice care. The stomach cancer has made it hard for him to eat or drink and he doesn’t have a lot of energy, but he still has the same funny, warm, and exhaustingly inquisitive mind that makes him special.

A few people have asked how to get in touch with him, and his family encourages anyone who wants to reach out to send him a letter or a note in the mail (“bonus points if you drop in any Big Lebowski quotes”). As Terrence’s niece, Aileen Cole, has said, “Life is sometimes not as long as we want it to be, so it’s important to say the things you mean when you have the time.”

Address: Terrence Cole, 321 Hawk Road, Fairbanks, Alaska 99712

Our thoughts are with Terrence and his family during this time.





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)





New Article on Seattle National Archives

Date Posted: October 19, 2020       Categories: News

The Journal of Western Archives is pleased to announce the publication of a new article: “Will the Last Archivist in Seattle Please Turn Out the Lights: Value and the National Archives.” Authors Sarah Buchanan and Megan Llewellyn from the University of Missouri discuss the decision to close the Seattle branch of the National Archives earlier this year. We hope that you find it interesting. The article can be accessed at digitalcommons.usu.edu/westernarchives/vol11/iss1/7.





2020 Awards

Date Posted: October 19, 2020       Categories: News

Our annual awards usually given during the Alaska Historical Society’s annual conference were presented during the Society’s annual business meeting held digitally by Zoom on October 10, 2020:

Alaska Historical Society

JAMES H. DUCKER ALASKA HISTORIAN OF THE YEAR

AWARD

2020

Thomas Alton

Alaska in the Progressive Age: A Political History 1896 to 1916

___________________________________________________________________

Alaska Historical Society

ELVA R. SCOTT

LOCAL HISTORICAL SOCIETY

AWARD

2020

Salcha Historical Society

Amy Viltrakis, Founder

___________________________________________________________________

Alaska Historical Society

         ESTHER BILLMAN AWARD

2020

Gastineau Channel Historical Society

Gastineau Heritage News

  Paula Johnson, Rich Mattson, Laury Scandling

Researchers / Writers

___________________________________________________________________

Alaska Historical Society

CONTRIBUTIONS TO ALASKA HISTORY

AWARD

2020

David Reamer

“Histories of Anchorage”

Anchorage Daily News weekly feature

___________________________________________________________________

Alaska Historical Society

CONTRIBUTIONS TO ALASKA HISTORY

AWARD

2020

David James

“Becoming Alaskan” / “Creating Alaska” series

Alaskana book reviews

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

___________________________________________________________________

STUDENT & BEGINNING PROFESSIONAL

TRAVEL SCHOLARSHIP

2020

TiaAnna Puya Tidwell

Ph.D. Candidate, University of Alaska Fairbanks

___________________________________________________________________

MORGAN & JEANIE SHERWOOD ALASKA HISTORY

AWARD

2019

Mary F. Ehrlander and Hild M. Peters
Grafton and Clara Burke: Medical Missionaries in Fort Yukon

___________________________________________________________________

SPECIAL RECOGNITION

2020

Alaska History Editorial Advisors

Stephen Haycox, Bill Hunt, Mary Mangusso, John Whitehead,

Terrence Cole, Ann Fienup-Riordan, Timothy Rawson, Andrei Znamenski

For over 220 combined years of service to the Alaska Historical Society

and the wider world of those who value the study of our past

___________________________________________________________________

PRESIDENT’S AWARD

BEAVER LOG

2020

Ian C. Hartman

For effective leadership of the

Advocacy Committee

 





Denali Park Road History

Date Posted: October 19, 2020       Categories: 49 History News

The Year Everything Changed: The 1972 Shuttle Bus Decision in Mount McKinley National Park.

Tourism numbers at Denali National Park dropped this last summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The park projected between 50-60 thousand visitors. The last time Denali had so few tourists the park had a different name, private automobiles could still drive the length of the road, and Richard Nixon was President—it was the early 1970s. It was an era of big change in Denali.

Read more about the history of Denali National Park’s shuttle bus system in an article by Erik Johnson, Historian at Denali National Park.

 





Sea Otters of Amchitka

Date Posted: October 19, 2020       Categories: 49 History

The Sea Otters Of Amchitka (1959)
Richard Ravalli, Associate Professor, History Department, William Jessup University, Rocklin, California

During the coronavirus lockdown, I had the opportunity to work via e-mail with Angela Schmidt of the Alaska Film Archives at University of Alaska, Fairbanks. I was interested in the archive’s copy of the 1959 nature film The Sea Otters of Amchitka, produced by Thorne Films of Boulder, Colorado and shot by naturalist H. Robert Krear. It is the first completed documentary about the animals, and, having just finished a book on sea otter history but not having known about the film, I was very eager to get a glimpse of it. Luckily, despite the somewhat degraded state of the AFA’s print, Angela was able to digitize The Sea Otters of Amchitka and upload it for me to view.

H. Robert Krear at Amchitka, ca. 1959. Courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Service.

At the same time, I was also in contact with Dr. Oakleigh Thorne of Thorne Films, who shared information about his work with Krear on the project. With gracious permission from “Oak,” now in his 90s and still going strong, Angela made the video clip public. But Dr. Thorne didn’t stop there. Searching his decades of records from hundreds of nature films produced by him beginning in the 1950s, he was able to locate a higher quality copy of the The Sea Otters of Amchitka and donated it to the AFA for digitization. This copy can now be seen on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bcS2HgetEE&feature=youtu.be

At the middle of the twentieth century, Amchitka was home to the largest concentration of the animals in the North Pacific. The opportunities that the otter population at the island provided for research were complicated by Cold War plans to test nuclear weapons there, a project that, following complaints from conservation officials, was halted until the 1960s. In the meantime, Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Karl Kenyon was working to transport sea otters from Amchitka to other locations in the Pacific to try to reverse some of the disastrous effects of the maritime fur trade. Animals were also flown from the island to Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo beginning in 1954, where the first otters held in captivity in an American facility were displayed.

While at Amchitka in 1957 assisting Kenyon’s conservation efforts as a University of Colorado doctoral student, Krear was tasked with shooting footage for the documentary, with film provided by Thorne. He also narrated the The Sea Otters of Amchitka during final production in Colorado. Unfortunately, Krear, passed away in 2018, so I wasn’t able to talk with him about his work, but he did publish a memoir in 2006 titled Four Seasons North: Exploration and Research in the Artic and Subarctic, edited by Terri Garrett, with a section on his time at Amchitka. It offers a somewhat dry but intriguing account of his daily activities on the island, working with Kenyon and several others, including an Aleut Native assistant named Innokinty Golodoff. Their main task was to build a holding pen and capture sea otters for transport to Seattle and the Pribilof Islands. Sadly, all of the otters that left Amchitka by air perished before they could reach their destination. Nevertheless, the lessons learned allowed scientists to perfect translocation methods from the island, which proved largely successful for recovery of the animals throughout the Pacific Northwest in the decades to come.

Krear and Thorne were well aware of the sea otter’s value as a nature film celebrity. While The Sea Otters of Amchitka may have only been seen by conservation advocates and in educational settings prior to the closure of Thorne Films in the early 1970s, the production began the process of popularizing the endearing animals. Near the 34 minute mark, Krear predicts, “In the future it is hoped that the value of this animal to the world will be chiefly aesthetic, but biologists and conservationists anticipate difficulty in promoting this viewpoint.” Such concerns proved fleeting. As Krear noted simply yet poignantly about the film in his memoir years later, “Jacques Cousteau made one later.”