• Due to renovations to our vault, access to our collections is limited until further notice. Please contact us for more information.

New in the Archives: January 2018

Welcome to the first installment of “New in the Archives,” a series of monthly updates about what’s going on in Archives and Special Collections. “New in the Archives” will feature newly described collections, items recently uploaded to Alaska’s Digital Archives, exhibits, and events that we have hosted or participated in. Here’s what’s new for January:

Collections described:

Max Gruenberg papers: 1955-2016. HMC-1270. Max Gruenberg was  a Democratic member of the Alaska House of Representatives. The collection includes bill files, photographs, and legislative correspondence.

Max Gruenberg (right), with Johnny Ellis (center). The man on the left is likely Peter Goll of Haines. From the Max Gruenberg papers.

League of Women Voters of Anchorage records; circa 1950-2011. HMC-1268. We finished describing the records of the League of Women Voters Anchorage, a civic organization that works to ensure voters have easy access to participate in political elections at every level. The records include financial and membership records, correspondence, meeting minutes, LWVAnc constitution and by-laws, public relations files, studies conducted by LWVAnc, legislative information and research, photographs, candidate forums, and LWVAnc newsletters.

Frank and Verna Pratt papers; 1967-2010. HMC-1276. This month we received the slides and papers of Verna Pratt, who was an expert on Alaskan plants, and her husband, Frank, an avid photographer, who took many of the photographs in the collection. The slides depict Alaskan plants and animals, gardens, and scenery from Alaska and elsewhere. The papers include lists of plants found in various locations in Alaska, informational resources for growing and identifying plants, and information about events related to Alaskan plants.

Verna Pratt in Denali National Park. From the Frank and Verna Pratt papers.

Nancy Jordan Strohmeyer interview recordings; circa 1990-1999. HMC-1273. We received these cassettes along with the papers of Sylvia Broady, the second wife of Strohmeyer’s husband, John Strohmeyer. They were removed from Broady’s collection and established as their own. The finding aid is now available online. The recordings, on microcassette, include interviews with Dr. C. Earl Albrecht, Dr. Frank Pauls, Kitty Gair, and others for her book Frontier Physician, as well as interviews with dancers from St. George, people from St. Paul, and Bob Atwood conducted for other research purposes.

Lowell Thomas Jr. papers; 1953-1990. HMC-1258. Lowell Thomas Jr. was an Alaska State Senator and Lieutenant Governor under Jay Hammond. His papers include political and personal correspondence, legislative files, campaign materials, notes, research, and speeches, audio reels, film, and photographs.

We also added existing material to these already existing collections:

 John Strohmeyer Papers; 1946-2010. HMC-1073. Papers of an author and journalist, including notes, articles, correspondence, and interviews.

Guide to the Michel Villon papers; 1966-2017. HMC-1255. Papers of a chef in Alaska, including work schedules, correspondence, thank you cards, photographs, financial information and food costs, and Mt. Marathon planning, as well as materials used in courses he taught.

Michel Villon in the kitchen of the Crow’s Nest. From the Michel Villon papers.

Finding aid conversion project

We have spent much of the last several years updating the finding aids to our collections to a newer, easier to use format, which also happens to be more in line with current archival practice. This has also given us the opportunity to revisit some of our collections and, in some cases, reduce the amount of space they take up by reboxing, weeding duplicates, and removing published material. That project is finally nearing completion, and Arlene has been tackling the last few collections to be updated. Ten finding aids were updated last month:

Guide to the Alaska Federation of Natives, International records; 1971-1979

Alaska Jaycees Inc. records; 1973-1983

 Anchorage Film Society records; 1953-1976

Anchorage Governor’s Prayer Breakfast Committee records; 1983-2000

Anchorage Veterans Memorial Committee records; 1997-2001

Robert M. August papers; 1964-1973

Maria Brooks papers; 1966-2006

Ruby I. Cashen photographs; 1935-1937

Gordon H. Hills papers; 1949-1998

Topic guides

Gardening and botany topic guide: Winter in Alaska is cold and dark, so we’re brightening it up with our newest topic guide, all about gardening and botany in Alaska. Collections in the guide include the  records and newsletters of gardening organizations, individuals involved in gardening and botany in Alaska, and a collection of botanical specimens.

Anchorage Garden Club members plant flowers around a Blue Star Memorial Highway sign. From the Anchorage Garden Club Records.

Grant projects

Coming soon! Canol Pipeline multi-institution guide: In November of last year, the Elizabeth Tower Endowment for Canadian Studies approved Veronica’s application for grant funding for a guide to archival collections relating to the Canol Pipeline from institutions in the U.S. and Canada. Veronica and Gwen have begun work on the project, and the guide will go live later this year.


Bowman Elementary School STEM Night. Gwen and Veronica participated in STEM Night at Bowman Elementary School on Thursday, January 25. The pair brought along items from the Archives and Special Collections that had a connection to science, technology, engineering or mathematics. The items included copies of Euclid’s Elements from 1654 and 1847, a book of homeschooling lessons, copies botanical and biological sketches for children to color, and a collection of stereoviews that look 3-D when viewed through a stereoscope. Parents and children alike were amazed at being able to touch such old books and impressed by the 3-D technology of a century ago.

Archives and Special Collections table at Bowman Elementary’s STEM Night.

That’s all for this month! We typically post these types of news and events on social media as they happen, so if you aren’t already, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


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