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2019 Student and Emerging Professional Awards

Date Posted: February 23, 2019       Categories: News

Awards for Travel to the Alaska Historical Society Annual Meeting, September 25-28, 2019, Kodiak Alaska

The Alaska Historical Society offers two scholarship awards to attend its annual meeting and conference. One award is for a post-secondary student who is researching an Alaska history topic, and the other is for an emerging professional in a related field. Awards consist of reimbursement for documented travel expenses up to $1,000 plus a conference registration package.


  • Applicant must be a member of the Alaska Historical Society at the time of applying.
  • Student applicants must be a graduate student or upper-division undergraduate in Fall 2019 with a course of study related to Alaska history.
  • Emerging professional applicants must be engaged in Alaska history or cultural work and have been so employed fewer than five years.
  • Applicants are required to attend the meeting in its entirety and make a presentation.
  • Information about the meeting and the Call for Papers can be found at: https://alaskahistoricalsociety.org/

Application process: Each applicant must submit: 1) letter with a statement of eligibility and an explanation of how attending the meeting will enhance your academic or professional development, 2) title and abstract of proposed presentation, and 3) a résumé. Applicants will be judged on the applicant’s achievement in Alaska history relative to current status and the likely benefit of the meeting to the applicant.

The application deadline is May 18. Electronic submission is preferred. Applications should be submitted to sprucetip105@gmail.com, or via regular mail to: AHS Awards, P.O. Box 100299, Anchorage, AK 99510.

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)

Unlocking McNeil’s Past: The Prison, The Place, The People Exhibit Opening, January 26, 2019

Date Posted: January 21, 2019       Categories: News

From January 26 to May 26, 2019, the Washington State Historical Society in Tacoma is hosting the exhibit Unlocking McNeil’s Past: The Prison, The Place, The People. McNeil Island is where many Alaskans were incarcerated during territorial days.

This exhibition presents the larger history of McNeil Island as a place, and the prison that opened there 143 years ago. The prison operated far longer than the better-known Alcatraz island prison. When the state’s correctional center on McNeil Island closed in 2011, it was the last prison in the nation only accessible by air or water.

From its beginnings as a territorial prison through its tenure as a federal and state penitentiary, the story of McNeil illuminates how incarceration in the U.S. has changed over time, as seen through the evolution of the prison facility, itself.

Unlocking McNeil’s Past: The Prison, The Place, The People presents history through accounts from prison staff, inmates, and residents of the island. It explores McNeil’s connections to significant state and national events. It examines the evolution of prison practices through territorial, federal, and state lenses, as well as the physical landscape of the prison itself and how its structure reflected these changes. Stories of early settlement and the unique relationship between the prison and its island community are also shared through this exhibition.

For more about the exhibit, see the Washington State Historical Society’s webpage.

Listen to the six part podcast Forgotten Prison created in collaboration between KNKX.org and Washington State History Museum – airing weekly on 88.5 FM beginning Tuesday, January 22.

The Forgotten Prison podcast has been supported through a storytelling grant from Humanities Washington.

MUYBRIDGE IN ALASKA Exhibit Opening, January 26, 2019

Date Posted: January 21, 2019       Categories: News

Circumpolar World Music Festival

The Alaska Native Heritage Center celebrates the opening of Muybridge in Alaska: 1868, an unprecedented traveling exhibition of iconic photographer Edward Muybridge’s historic Alaskan views. The exhibition opens on Saturday, January 26, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. in the Hall of Cultures.

Also on January 26, at 4:00 p.m., the Alaska Native Heritage Center will host a public forum to discuss the photographs, their context and meaning. Panelists will include Tlingit authority Tom Harris, celebrated Tlingit artist and musician Preston Singletary, University of Alaska anthropologist Dan Monteith and exhibition organizer and award-winning documentary filmmaker Marc Shaffer. UAA professor of Native Studies Maria Williams will serve as moderator.

Muybridge in Alaska: 1868 features original Muybridge photographs of Fort Tongass, Fort Wrangle (sic), and Sitka, taken in August 1868. These are the first photographs taken of Tlingit people, and the first of Alaska widely seen. Visitors will be provided with stereoscopes through which they can view the dual stereo views in 3D, as originally intended.

Muybridge in Alaska: 1868 is organized by Inside Out Media and curated by Marc Shaffer. The images are on loan from the private collections of Leonard Walle and Mary Everson. The exhibition is supported by the Atwood Foundation, in part by a grant from the Alaska Humanities Forum and the National Endowment for the Humanities, a federal agency, and by a Harper Arts Touring Fund grant from the Alaska State Council on the Arts. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Muybridge in Alaska: 1868 grows out of a major documentary on Muybridge being directed by Marc Shaffer entitled Exposing Muybridge. For more information, visit www.muybridgethemovie.com.

Muybridge in Alaska: 1868 will be on exhibit until March 27, 2019 at the Alaska Native Heritage Center, Anchorage. It will then travel to the Sheldon Museum in Haines for April and May, before finishing its tour in Sitka in June and July.

The Circumpolar World Music Festival will be held on the same day in the Gathering Place. Schedule includes:

10:45am Alaska Native Heritage Center Dancers
11:15am Tlingit and Haida Dancers
11:45am Alaska Native Guitarist: Owen Parduhn
2:15pm The Whitney Youngman Trio
1:30pm Alaska Native Heritage Center Dancers
3:00pm Khu.éex’ Band
3:45pm Meet the Artists
4:00pm Muybridge Discussion Panel

Alaska Native Heritage Center is a nonprofit organization that preserves and strengthens the traditions, languages, and art of Alaska’s Native People through statewide collaboration, celebration, and education. It is located at 8800 Heritage Center Drive in northeast Anchorage, just off Muldoon Road North near Bartlett High School. For more information about other events and programs, visit www.alaskanative.net

Putting History to Work in Alaska: Public History at UA

Date Posted: December 22, 2018       Categories: News
The UAA History Department is exploring the development of a Public History program that gives University of Alaska graduates a range of tools that make them attractive to potential employers. Across the country, universities have developed graduate programs tailored to their specific geographic needs that put history to work. The purpose of this inquiry is to assess Alaska’s specific needs. Once determined, those needs will serve as a framework for a program proposal. As practitioners of public history and potential employers of our graduates, your input into the development of a Public History program is critical and greatly appreciated. 
Public history is the practical application of history to real-world issues. Public history expertise is utilized by a broad range of professions that share a commitment to making history relevant and useful in the public sphere, such as: historical/cultural consultants, museum professionals, government historians, archivists, oral historians, cultural resource managers, curators, film and media producers, historical interpreters, librarians, historic preservationists, historic architects, policy advisers, local historians, industrial archeologists and community activists.
Although public historians can sometimes be professors, practitioners usually find employment beyond the walls of the traditional classroom. Areas of study that serve the professional community include:
         Interpretation: History consumed by the public.
History interpreted via museums, documentaries, podcasts, historical societies, lecture series, digital publication, storytelling workshops, libraries, national/state/local parks, battlefields and memorials, guided tours.
         Cultural Resources Management: The protection and management of the tangible remains of past human activities.
History associated with buildings, structures, districts, prehistoric sites, historic or prehistoric objects or collection, rock inscription, earthworks or landscapes. Management types include Section 106 compliance, Historic Resource Surveys, Cultural Landscape reports, Ethnographic surveys, oral histories, and Traditional Cultural Places.
         Professional Services: History conducted for clients.
History applied to institutional histories, corporate archives, exhibit curation, legal or legislative histories, educational initiatives, non-profits, grant writing and management, environmental impact statements, public policy, commercial operators, and genealogy.
         Historic Preservation: History to protect and promote place.
History promoted via architectural & historic surveys, heritage tourism, community projects, walking tours, archives and collections, reuse and rehabilitation of sites, historical societies, and land trusts.
While theory and methodology remain firmly in the discipline of history, public history is, by definition, interdisciplinary. Public historians routinely engage in collaborative work with community members, stakeholders, as well as with university and professional colleagues.
Public historians consult/work directly with archeologists, anthropologists, folklorists, archivists, ethnographers, architects, cartographers, museum curators, education specialists, surveyors, natural resource managers, artists, ecologists, linguists, geologists, scientists, attorneys, cultural bearers, military personnel, tribal affiliations, Native corporations, business leaders, board of directors, nonprofits and community advocates. In fact, collaboration is a fundamental and defining characteristic of what public historians do
If you are interested in helping the department develop a practical and appropriate program that would serve Alaska’s needs, please consider writing a letter that incorporates insights based on the following questions. Please address letters to:
Paul Dunscomb, Chair
UAA Department of History
3211 Providence Drive
Anchorage, Alaska 99508
Please describe your work/program/organization and feel free to consider the following questions:
1.      Does your work/program/organization either employ or work in collaboration with public history practitioners? If so, can you share a few examples?
2.      Are public history positions typically filled by in-state (University of Alaska trained) or out-of-state hires? (How many, if any, of the in-state hires are History graduates?)
3.      Does a demand exist for qualified public history practitioners in your work place or field?
4.      What specific skills does your work/program/organization require from public history practitioners?
5.      How might a Public History MA Graduate Program at UAA benefit your work/program/organization?
6.      Would your work/program/organization benefit from UAA Interns? If so, can you provide a few examples?
7.      Would your work/program/organization consider participating in class projects/seminars that teach specific skills while offering students professional experience?
8.      In terms of public history, what is your work/program/organization’s greatest need and how might a Public History program at the University of Alaska fill that need?
If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact Katherine Ringsmuth at 907-830-2251 or kjringsmuth@alaska.edu. To learn more about the field of Public History, visit the National Council on Public History’s website.