AHS Blog

Cook Inlet Historical Society Virtual Lecture

Date Posted: June 12, 2020       Categories: News

In response to the COVID-19 virus, the Cook Inlet Historical Society has transitioned to a free, online speaker series.

Please tune in for Cook Inlet Historical Society’s virtual panel lecture titled:  “We’re Saving It for You:  The Value and Importance of Archives and Museums in Alaska”; 7 p.m., Thursday, June 18, 2020.  

Advance registration is required for this free virtual talk.  Online meeting details will be included in an automatic confirmation email.  Register here:  https://www.anchoragemuseum.org/visit/calendar/details/?id=59352

In this lecture, a local panel of archivists and museum curators will give an overview of their respective institutions’ archival, manuscript and museum holdings related to Alaska and the Circumpolar North. Archives also have been used in innovative and creative ways for community outreach, film documentaries and educational outreach. By emphasizing how these collections are used in research, the panelists will discuss the rich resources in the state’s archives. They will present what archives can do for you, how to best use them for personal and historical research, types of users, digital collections and success stories. Public support for archives and museums is a continuing priority of the Alaska Historical Society and the Cook Inlet Historical Society.

The coronavirus derailed the Historical Society’s Speakers Series in March, April and May.  The March event on the importance of history museums and archives was canceled only a few days before it was scheduled so the presenters were well along with preparations.  Recognizing this, and with many historians and researchers concerned about the pending move of the National Archives from Seattle, it is still a very timely topic. The public’s attention to issues such as closing the Seattle National Archives can be lost in these difficult times, making it easy for its proponents to proceed with little public input.


Will Schneider is Professor Emeritus at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and former Curator of Oral History, Elmer E. Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks.  He is president of the Alaska Historical Society.  He will speak on the value and importance of archives, and the Alaska Historical Society’s Archive Video Project (https://alaskahistoricalsociety.org/about-ahs/ahs-advocacy/importance-of-archives/).

Arlene Schmuland is the head of Archives and Special Collections at the Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage.

Arabeth Balasko is Archivist at the Atwood Resource Center, Anchorage Museum.  During her archival career, she has worked as an archivist and historian at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Greenbrier Historical Society, Preservation Society of Newport County and the Arlington Public Library.

Bruce Parham retired as Director of the National Archives at Anchorage in 2011, after 22 years of federal service with the National Archives and Records Administration.  He is secretary of the Cook Inlet Historical Society Board of Directors.

This program is jointly sponsored with the Anchorage Museum, and CIHS would like to acknowledge the Museum’s technical assistance and major support.

Call for Papers Deadline Extended to June 30, 2020

Date Posted: May 22, 2020       Categories: News

2020 Alaska Historical Society Annual Conference
October 14 to 17, 2020
 Sitka, Alaska
“Place and Power”

Sitka from water, showing the Three Sisters in the background. Sitka Harbor-7, Alaska State Library Photo Collection.

Due to the Corona virus pandemic situation, we have extended the deadline for paper proposals until June 30, 2020.  At this time, we are still moving forward with plans for our conference to be held in person. If it turns out this is not possible, there will still be an opportunity for people to present in a virtual video conference context (more detail to follow). So, we encourage people to please submit presentation proposals.

Call for Papers
“Place and Power” is the theme for the 2020 Alaska Historical Society Conference to be held in Sitka, October 14-17.  Gathering in Sitka while the community commemorates the 1867 transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States provides a fitting location for exploring larger questions of power relations over time, such as how governmental laws and policies impact Alaskans and shape our understanding of history and identity.

 Millennia of Tlingit history are marked in clan houses, place names and clan histories intimately connected with specific places. The power relationship between the Russian American Company colony at Sitka and the Tlingit people is represented in the Fort Site from the Battle of 1804, now the Sitka National Historical Park, and in surviving structures such as the Russian Bishop’s House and St Michael’s Orthodox Cathedral. The struggle between Alaska Native people and the U.S. government is also represented in the history of the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall, Sheldon Jackson School, and Mt. Edgecumbe High School.

Conference sessions are being planned on Women’s Suffrage, the 50th Anniversary of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), and the Legacy of Richard Nelson.  The West, including Alaska, was ahead of the nation in recognizing the rights of women, thereby challenging us to ask how place influenced attitudes and what effect the Progressive Movement had on Alaskans and their views on women’s rights. Next year, 2021, marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of ANCSA, a major political settlement with profound consequences for Native sovereignty, subsistence rights, and governmental regulations on land use. The death of noted anthropologist and nature writer Richard Nelson provides a chance to examine a legacy of recording Native relationships to place and discuss how spiritual lessons learned from elders influenced his own understanding of place.

In addition to the planned sessions, papers on all topics related to Alaska history are welcome.

Presentations are limited to 20 minutes, and all presenters must register for the conference.  To submit a proposal, please send your presentation title, an abstract of no more than 100 words, and two sentences about yourself to Rachel Mason, Program Chair, rachel_mason@nps.govProposals are due June 30, 2020.

Click here for pdf of the Call for Papers

Tundra Talks Now Online

Date Posted: May 9, 2020       Categories: News

The eight Tundra Talks and interviews recorded during the 2019-2020 Tundra Vision Lecture Series at Loussac Library in Anchorage, Alaska are now available online at a new site, Tundra Sounds. You can listen to the audio recording or access images, films and other historical material. Be sure to open the link in Google Chrome.

The site was designed and developed by University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) student Dylan DeBuse, who also conducted most of the interviews. Tundra Vision is hoping to include additional stories in the future, so stay tuned!

Thanks go to: UAA’s Paul Wasko for providing the digital platform for Tundra Sounds and to Dylan’s brother, Derek DeBuse, for developing the site’s original artwork; the Anchorage Library Foundation, The Alaska Humanities Forum, The Atwood Foundation, Sarah Preskitt and the Loussac Library staff; and this year’s terrific speakers: Marie Acemah, Angela Schmidt, Arlene Schumland & Gwen Higgins, Tim Troll, Libby Bakalar, Scott Jensen & Carolyn Hall, Rhonda McBride, and Jeff Landfield.

Thanks also go out to the Tundra Vision community, who attend the lectures and support the endeavor to bring people together through history—even if that means doing that apart right now…

Katherine Ringsmuth, PhD

Tundra Vision


Research Opportunity in Arctic & Northern Studies at UAF

Date Posted: April 14, 2020       Categories: News

The University of Alaska Fairbanks is recruiting one student for the Master of Arts in Arctic & Northern Studies to research the Copper Valley School, a Catholic boarding school that was located near Glennallen, Alaska.


Tuition, monthly stipend, and health insurance.

About this Opportunity:

A partnership among Arctic & Northern Studies (ACNS) and the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) and the Copper Valley School Association (CVSA) is sponsoring one student to complete the M.A. in Arctic & Northern Studies and to research the history, organization and culture of the Copper Valley School.

The selected student will be a full-time Arctic & Northern Studies M.A. student pursuing either the Northern History or Individualized Concentration. The student will complete the required coursework, comprehensive exams, and project focusing on providing a historical narrative on the Copper Valley School. Throughout the two-year degree, the student will be on an assistantship that will provide tuition, health insurance, and a monthly stipend during the academic year.

All applicants to the M.A. in Arctic & Northern Studies must have a cumulative undergraduate GPA and an undergraduate major GPA of 3.0 or higher. Only one student will be selected for this specific funding opportunity. For more information about the M.A. program, visit: https://www.uaf.edu/arctic/

About the Copper Valley School:

The Copper Valley School was a Catholic boarding school located near Glennallen, Alaska. In 1956, it accepted its first students – orphans from Holy Cross. It was open for fifteen years, growing to serve more than 200 students annually from diverse backgrounds and nationalities, both Catholics and non- Catholics, and Natives and non-Natives. Although the school has been long closed, several alumni meet annually in August for a school reunion. For more information about the school, visit: http://coppervalleyschool.org/.


If interested in this opportunity, please contact Dr. Brandon Boylan, Co-Director, Arctic & Northern Studies, at bmboylan@alaska.edu

Covid-19 – Two year Unfinished Project #1 Completed: F/V Age of Reason

Date Posted: April 10, 2020       Categories: 49 History

By Kathy Peavey, Craig Alaska

Mary Ida Henrikson of Ketchikan gifted an original painting by former Craig resident and author, Ballard Hadman, to the Craig Public Library. The painting by Ballard was gifted to former Thorne Bay and Ketchikan author and her friend, Margaret Bell (niece of City of Craig founder, Craig Miller). It was Margaret who gave the painting to Mary. When Mary was in Craig in 2018 promoting her new book The Mystery of the Fire Trees of Southeast Alaska, she brought the painting with her from Ketchikan and gave it to the Craig Public Library. Mary mentioned that there is the Ketchikan Pond Reef Road legend surrounding the name on the boat. Some speculate that perhaps Ballard didn’t finish the painting. Henrikson mentions that Margaret Bell told her when Ballard was with Margaret one evening the two were having a glass of wine or a martini and it is said that the name was painted on when they were visiting and possibly under the influence of their drink. Regardless of when the name was put on, it’s exciting that the boat influenced Ballard as much as it did. Ballard writes in her book, As the Sailor Loves the Sea:

My first sight of Fishermen’s Cove gave me a painting, which is peculiarly difficult to put into words but ready-made for canvas. At the head of the cove, heeled over with her forefoot to the beach, abandoned to the endless tide, derelict and rotten, lay what had once been a brave hull. Along her bows in fanciful lettering was her provocative name, the Age of Reason. To be sure, it gave me deep pleasure to find the Age of Reason rotting on the beach.

Someday when you are out of isolation, the painting can be seen  at the Craig Public Library. It hangs to the left of the librarian desk.

Ballard Hadman a resident of Craig and Ketchikan was born Virginia Diana Ballard in 1908 in Laramie, Wyoming. She attended Corcoran Institute of Art in Washington D.C. and the Winold Reiss School of Art in New York City. Ballard arrived in Craig, Alaska in 1937, following her mother, Mimi, to come work with her brothers, John and Charles, on their fishing boat the F/V Diana. It wasn’t long until Ballard put out her memoirs in the Craig town favorite, As The Sailor Loves the Sea. When Ballard arrived in Craig she wrote:

I should always like to land in a strange port on a strange island in the dark; the impact of the morning is so fresh, so wholly new. From the top of the highest hill on the island, where a long bed of iris stood tall and proud, I first saw the polished blue sweep of Big Harbor, the warm deep green of Saint John’s Island with its own infant island, Little Saint John, tucked close to its shoulder.

After arriving in Craig on the steam ship Cordova, Hadman made her way to the fish packer the F/V Lawrence P and caught a ride out to “Hole in the Wall.” Once there, Hadman met up with her brothers who unloaded her onto the beach and set her up in a rustic cabin until they went out fishing. (Remnants of the cabin can be seen on the northern end of San Lorenzo island.)

Hadman’s book has many unique hand-drawn and painted scenes of the outer coast, fishing boats and locals such as “Shorty,” Many local historians consider her book a “must have” whether on their boat, in their remote cabin, or on their shelves in Craig. Her book can be found at the Craig Public Library, as well.

Ballard became infatuated with the beauty of the fishing landscape and enjoyed painting scenes that can be found in her book. Her most noted love is the painting of Cape Addington. Hadman writes: “It was that first season that I began to know Cape Addington, my first and best love among all the seaward capes. …To my mind, and to John’s as well, the most beautiful cape in Alaska.

Like most women who came to Alaska to seek an adventure, Hadman not only became a proficient fisherwoman, author and artist, but became involved in the community of Craig as a member of the Craig Women’s Club. In 1946, she was honored as a “Woman of Achievement” in Seattle by the honorary journalistic sorority, Theta Sigma Phi.

End note:

When I first saw the painting in the Library, I decided to find out about the history of it. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I have enjoyed researching and learning about the painting. When researching the boat, I found out before she came to rest at Fishermans cove (South Cove) in Craig she was once considered to be one of the larger boats in Klawock and owned by two fishermen from Klawock: J. Cook and S. Davis. Thanks to Mary Henrikson for her help and for donating the painting back to Craig. I started this research in 2018. This is the first Covid-19 isolation project that I have finished. Kathy Peavey, March 28, 2020.

Resources cited:

Tewkesbury’s Who’s Who in Alaska

O.M. Salisbury, As the Sailor Loves the Sea

Zee Hawks