This year’s annual Alaska Historical Society and Museums Alaska conference in Juneau featured ample opportunities to share and learn about Alaska fisheries history. Historic Alaska Packers Association maps were on exhibit within the Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff building, in addition to a section within the brand new exhibits about the history of Alaska’s seafood industry. The following a synopsis of several of the featured presentations and projects.
Bob King and Katie Ringsmuth spoke about their Alaska Historic Canneries Initiative-sponsored project to document the history of the Diamond NN cannery in Bristol Bay. Diamond NN is the oldest industrial fish processing site on the Naknek River. Bob and Katie hope to nominate the site to the National Register of Historic Places and curate several exhibits, including one about the 1919 Spanish Influenza outbreak in Bristol Bay. To learn more about this project, make sure to like Tundra Vision on Facebook. Listen to this APRN feature to learn more about the Spanish Flu in Bristol Bay here.
University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Fisheries and Oceanic Sciences PhD candidates Maggie Chan, Elizabeth Figus and Sonia Ibarra joined Daniel Montieth of University of Alaska Southeast in a discussion about the opportunities and limitations of using historic and archival material to establish baseline scientific data. Maggie and Elizabeth are looking at halibut fisheries in Southeast Alaska, while Sonia is researching how people sea otter populations and ecology in Southeast.
A Fisheries History Speed Talk session featured presentations by nine individuals, highlighting projects and resources related to fisheries history. Angela Schmidt of the University of Alaska’s Film Archive shared new film resources, including an acquisition from the Marine Advisory Program’s videographer and the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. Ross Coen spoke about the acquisition of the Seafood Products Association archive by the Special Collections at the University of Washington. This archive features information on the development of methods to enhance the quality of seafood production. The donation can be attributed to the efforts of the Alaska Historic Canneries Initiative to educate the seafood industry about the importance of preserving institutional records.
Karen Hofstad announced that she and Anjuli Grantham are collaborating to publish Pat Roppel’s work on the history of canneries in Southeast Alaska. Pat spent years compiling information but died before her work was finished. Her papers were donated to the Alaska Historical Library in Juneau. This effort to revive and publish Pat’s work will be a project of the Alaska Historic Canneries Initiative.
While in Juneau, Anjuli Grantham, Bob King and Katie Ringsmuth taped a show in front of a live studio audience for KTOO’s Forum@360. “Alaska’s Historic Canneries and the People Who Worked There” will broadcast on Friday, October 7 at 8PM on 360North. The full program is available for viewing at any time on KTOO’s website.
The Alaska Historical Society’s has awarded seven grants to advance seafood history projects
around Alaska. The grants have been awarded to individuals and organizations to advance
documentation, preservation, and education about the history of Alaska’s seafood industry and to
support the vision of the Alaska Historic Canneries Initiative. Grants were awarded for projects
in Dillingham, Kodiak, Naknek, Tenakee Springs and Sitka.
“With these grants, we hope to direct more attention towards the history and culture of Alaska’s
seafood industry. Nothing marks the identity of coastal Alaska more than the fishing industry,
yet that history is often neglected. We hope to improve the preservation of the history of the
seafood industry in Alaska and demonstrate that this history matters today,” explains Anjuli
Grantham, Director of the Initiative.
One of the awards will support efforts this summer to assess the status of the South Naknek
“Diamond NN” cannery and look at options for its preservation. “The NN is one of the most
historic canneries in Alaska, built in 1890 and operated for over 100 years, from the 19th century
into the 21st,” said grant recipient Katie Ringsmuth. “We want to document this facility, the role
it played in the economy and culture of the Bristol Bay region, and look at ways to ensure this
Fellow fishtorian Bob King added, “We greatly appreciate the AHS support of projects like this.
We encourage other historians to look at ways they can use the cannery initiative to contribute to
the better understanding of the role of the fishing industry in their community and the state.”
Grants were awarded to the following projects, listed by region:
- Production of radio programming detailing the history of Sitka’s canneries, to the Sitka History Museum.
- Cataloging of Superior Canning Company artifacts and archival materials, to the Tenakee Historical Collection
- Publication of oral histories and the production of an exhibit about the history of fishing on the west side of Kodiak Island, to the Kodiak Historical Society
- Publication about the history of the Alitak cannery, to Rick Metzger and Woody Knebel
- Interviews, research, and writing about the Glacier Bay Seafoods shrimp plant in Ouzinkie, to Susan Morgan
- Preservation assessment of the South Naknek Diamond NN cannery in Bristol Bay, to Bob King and Katie Ringsmuth
- Oral histories of Dillingham elders, conducted by 4-H members in Dillingham, to Deanna