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White Alice

Today, March 26, is the anniversary of the day the White Alice communications network was put into service.  In a random bit of serendipity,this morning I finished the finding aid (collection guide) to the Leland Olson papers.  Lee Olson was a surveyor and personnel manager for Western Electric, one of the contractors for the White Alice construction.  The collection has mostly color 35mm slides in it.  And they’re fantastic.  All over Alaska and include Baffin Island and Resolution Island sites in what is now Nunavut.  Construction images, workers partying, aerial photos taken from planes, and so forth.  The collection even has a charm bracelet in it with a White Alice charm on it! (The first of those that we’ve seen.)

The Lee Olson collection was given to us by his daughter and granddaughter, Alys Olson and Kristen Rose.  Thank you, both.  White Alice is a popular research topic around here and I know that these images will be very useful to our researchers.

And if you’re still wondering what White Alice is, my technical skills are limited enough to avoid this topic.  What I will tell you was that it was a huge development in communications for Alaska and the far north, a combination of both civilian and military efforts.  Please go visit your local library and ask.  I’m sure they’ll be able to help you find out more. In the meantime, I’ll share a few images with you from the Leland Olson collection.  The first is the antenna array at Shemya [note: according to one of our great readers, this photo isn’t White Alice at all but an antenna array on the other side of the island: see comments below), the second is some sort of an explosion at Baffin Island, the third is construction of one of the buildings at Port Moller, and the last is winter at the site at Resolution Island.  Enjoy!

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