AHS Blog  |  49 History

Fairbanks Event – Lecture by Bill Schneider, Wednesday 12/18

Date Posted: December 14, 2013       Categories: 49 History
The Tanana Yukon Historical Society invites the public to “On Whose Terms? Indian Chiefs and White settlement in the Tanana Valley,” a lecture by Bill Schneider.
Wednesday, December 18
7:00 p.m.
Pioneer Hall at Pioneer Park

For a long period, Native residents along the Yukon River had contact with Western travelers. Those living farther south on Tanana River drainages continued to pursue much of their traditional yearly cycle. There were few Whites passing through the Tanana Valley, and no White inhabitants until the turn of the 20th Century. Until then, Native land was relatively free of competing claims.
What was the impact of this extended period of indirect contact? Did it prepare them for the eventual onslaught of gold seekers, military construction projects, trading posts, missions and competing demands for the land? How did the history of involvement with Native groups influence the government’s perception of the Natives and their rights?
Schneider will suggest some answers to these questions by referencing the experiences of Chief Joseph and Chief Jarvis, whose lives were intertwined with the events and influences that mark the early years of the 20th Century.
Bill Schneider is Professor Emeritus and founding Curator of Oral History at the Alaska and Polar Regions Department, Elmer Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks. In retirement, he continues his decades-long research into the history of Alaska and Yukon.

For more information about this and other lectures sponsored by the Tanana Yukon Historical Society, please call 488-3383, or e-mail <tyhs@alaska.net>

New Book Announcement – Hazelet’s Journal

Date Posted: December 12, 2013       Categories: 49 History

Old Stone Press announces the publication of Hazelet’s Journal by George Cheever Hazelet and J. H. Clark (editor). Based on three journals written in 1898, the book tells the story of George Cheever Hazelet, a prospector who explored the Copper River region and figured prominently in the early history of Valdez and Cordova. The book features over 150 photographs, maps, and illustrations, many never before published from private collections.

For more information, please visit: hazeletsjournal.com

Pipeline Games

Date Posted: December 9, 2013       Categories: 49 History

Over the past several weeks we’ve shared with you images of Alaska- and Arctic-themed board games. Today, in the final installment of the series…
Here’s “Alaska Pipeline: The Energy Crisis Game,” produced by an Anchorage company called Pipeline Games, Ltd., in 1973:
Each of the game’s four characters—the roughneck, the professor, the tycoon, and the bespectacled woman—teach important facts about the pipeline, all designed to engender support for the project that was then still in its pre-construction planning phase.
Here’s the “Alaska Oil Game”:
In this game, produced in 1978 when the pipeline was up and running, players draw cards to move either forward or backward. When oil is moving down the line, move forward nine spaces:

When an environment review is required, go back three. (In this game, environmental protection is obviously a losing strategy…)
There are, of course, dozens if not hundreds of other Alaska board games that have been produced and played over the decades. This series has focused on board games, but we’ve all seen Alaska-themed playing cards, dominoes, puzzles, etc. A few years ago the Alaska State Museum exhibited “Jeff Brown’s Great Alaska Game Show.” Visit the online exhibit here: museums.alaska.gov/online_exhibits/AlaskaGameShow.html

Previous posts in this board game series can be found here:




Lending a Hand at the State Museum

Date Posted: December 7, 2013       Categories: 49 History

As the Alaska State Museum in Juneau begins packing up its tens of thousands of artifacts in advance of moving to the new SLAM facility in a few years, Anjuli Grantham, AHS vice president, is one of several museum professionals from around the state lending a hand. Click here for a story by Casey Kelly of KTOO in Juneau.

More information about SLAM is available here.

“Someday…ask the boys from the Aleutians”

Date Posted: December 4, 2013       Categories: 49 History
by Jeff Dickrell
As an avid eBay troller, I have developed a skill for scanning the multitude of item titles, looking for anything out of the ordinary (http://seakayaker.us/from-estate-sale-to-ebay-the-wanderings-of-a-piece-of-aleut-history/). I am looking for, mainly, old maps, prints, images and anything to do with Unangan iqyak (kayaks). I have been pretty successful, picking up the odd print, the old postcard, lots of stuff where I am the only bidder, because I seem to be the only one interested. Who needs a 1909 French Illustrated Newspaper showing the Revenue Cutter Service battling Japanese poachers on the Pribilof Islands? I do….my high school students think I am insane.

So when the title, “Someday…ask the boys from the Aleutians” crossed my screen, I was intrigued. I clicked on the item description and was pleasantly surprised. Instead of a DVD collection of old WWII public domain movies, this was a wartime (January 1943) advertisement in ‘Popular Mechanics’ magazine for Evinrude Outboard Motors. “The storm-swept roadsteads of the Aleutians were never made for ‘happy landings’.” It goes on to describe the conditions their motors operated in and then subtly shifts to “When the war need is past…and you’re thinking of buying a new motor again…” This was in 1943, far from the end of the war. So I bought the ad, thinking it would be a cool addition to my growing collection. Little did I know a new obsession was born: a search for advertisements with Aleutian references.
The next one was seriously un-dramatic, for KEN-RAD radio tubes. It featured a vacuum tube dressed in a fur-trimmed parka, with a frightening harpoon, next to an Aleutian Quonset hut. Then came a Bell and Howell movie projector ad, “…cold Aleutian fog is almost forgotten and fighting hearts look home again.” Patterns began to emerge: the Aleutians as a metaphor for tough conditions, “NOT FIT for man or beast” (Fafnir ball bearings), distant duty stations, “From Kiska to Kisses in One Easy Lesson” (Vaseline Hair Tonic), and one point in spanning the world, “From Guatemala to Attu; water-cooling does the job” (Gardner-Denver air compressors).
Most of the ads featured airplanes, PBY’s or other navy patrol planes, fighter planes like the P-40’s, P-38’s or bombers. The planes were ads for their builders, Martin, Curtis-Wright, Lockheed and North American or for their components like Hayes aircraft wheels and brakes. Many others featured boats and corresponding components, mainly the landing craft used on Attu and Kiska. The final category is construction equipment, dump trucks, survey equipment and steel fittings for telephone poles (Oliver Iron and Steel).
There is a tie for my favorite. The first, a tug at the heartstrings, a 1943 ad for the Hodgman Rubber Co.’s raingear with the headline, “Thanks Mother,” with a picture of dear old mom superimposed over an Aleutian storm scene. The second is for Caterpillar tractors. A large format drawing of a tractor heading off a cliff with the caption, “CRASH LANDING” is explained by a long write up of U.S. Army engineers driving six tractors off a cliff on Attu, hoping one would be operable at the bottom. “The drivers started them over the brink and jumped for their lives.”

I use this collection of twenty-five ads (so far) in my high school Alaska history class to show stereotypes, and how the rest of the world got the images of Alaska that fuel today’s reality shows. Jack London had nothing on these wartime ad men.