• 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: May-June 2021

What our researchers are producing

We recently learned about two great websites created by our researchers:

WWII Alaska: The Second World War dramatically impacted the Alaskan territory and all of its people. Explore firsthand stories from Alaska Native elders and veterans stationed in Alaska. Created by Holly Guise, an Iñupiaq historian from Anchorage and Unalakleet, and Assistant Professor of History at the University of New Mexico.

Madness Outside In: Morningside Hospital, American Psychiatry, and the Evolving Nation in the mid-20th Century: The project examines mid-20th century American psychiatry through a case study of the Morningside Hospital, which operated in Portland, Oregon from 1903-1963. Morningside was a private hospital contracted to transport and treat Alaskans. The site was created by two researchers from the University of Oregon: Professor Mary Wood, Department of English and Professor Kristin Yarris, Department of Global Studies.

In other researcher projects and products:

Megan Friedel, who was an archivist here a few years ago and who is now at University of Colorado Boulder recently published “Rough Sort of Way”: Edwin F. Glenn’s Photographs of the 1898 Cooks Inlet Exploring Expedition in Alaska Pacific Northwest Quarterly. We just got a copy and enjoyed reading it. Congratulations to Megan on the publication!

One of our Genie Chance 1964 earthquake broadcast recordings was sampled for a song entitled “Genie” by Laura Kiernan, a musician who heard some of Genie’s story on the New York Times Daily podcast. If you’re interested in listening to the results, Ms. Kiernan has the song posted to several online platforms.
If you’ve come across some of the Archives materials out and about and being used, let us know? We’d love to feature them here.

Tutorials to using the Archives

Gwen has been working on two different guides to help researchers navigate the archival research process, and our collections, more easily. The first is a guide to Archival Research Basics, which introduces reasons for using archives, strategies for finding archival resources, and how to evaluate archival resources. The second guide is an Archives & Special Collections research guide that covers our website, how to use our finding aids, and how to get in-person and remote research help. Check out these guides and let us know what you think. We plan on marketing these guides more heavily to students and faculty as fall approaches.


Dana Stabenow papers; 1994-2008. hmc-1362. Papers relating to an Alaskan mystery author.

Don Schwartz papers; 1959. hmc-1354-ahs. Letter and photographs from a Coast Guard serviceman stationed in Ketchikan.

Anchorage Community Theatre records; 1953-2016. hmc-1367. Records of a community theatre company in Anchorage.

ACT Production of Camelot

Actors onstage during an Anchorage Community Theatre production of Camelot

White Pass and Yukon Route Railway photograph album; 1898-1901. hmc-1355-ahs. Commercial photographs related to the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway.

That last car gives new (old?) meaning to the phrase “coach class.” From the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway photograph album.

Miller family postcards; 1963, 1970. hmc-1364-ahs. Postcards sent by Alaskan tourists to family.

Gertrude Wetzel photographs, 1945-1955. hmc-1365-ahs. Photographs taken by a public health nurse in Alaska.

Frances Vadla diary, 1960. hmc-1363. A diary of a homesteader on Liten Lake.

Unidentified family photograph album; circa 1947-1959. Photograph album from a family that spent time in Kodiak in 1959.

Elmendorf Theatre Guild programs; 1955-1963. EPH-0454

Anchorage Drama Lab programs; 1955-1960. EPH-0455

Carnival Civic Theatre “The Roar of the Greasepaint the Smell of the Crowd” program; 1973. EPH-0456

The Bob Hope Show information pamphlet; 1956 December. EPH-0457

Providence Hospital Newborn Special Care Nursery statistical reports; 1967-1984. EPH-0459

Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau Official Restaurant and Entertainment guides; 2008, 2011. EPH-0460

Subject guides

A guide to collections relating to the U. S. Coast Guard.

Alaska’s Digital Archives

45 images from the John and Linda Nelson papers, HMC-0378. Photos of a Fur Rondy “Battle of the Bands” competition in 1973.

9 images from the Don Schwartz papers, HMC-1354-AHS. Totem poles in the Ketchikan vicinity and a few images related to the Don’s service aboard a Coast Guard buoy tender.


Arlene continues to add resources/tutorials for partner institutions to the Alaska’s Digital Archives partners website.

Alaska’s Digital Archives metadata standards guide

Editing uploaded records in the Alaska’s Digital Archives

Other occasionally invisible things

Inventorying audiovisual materials: Although we work to make all of our collections available to the public, some of our audio, video, and film recordings remain inaccessible because we lack the equipment to digitize them and playing them is detrimental to their long term preservation. While we have received grants to digitize some of these materials, we still have a long way to go before everything is accessible, and until now, we have not had a comprehensive list of audiovisual materials in our collections. Gwen is currently working on an inventory of our A/V materials to make applying for funding easier in the future.

Protecting digital archives: Arlene discovered that due to some system time-outs, some of our folders of digital materials hadn’t been fully transferred to our networked area storage when we set up that system a few years ago. The NAS is our preservation system for electronic documents. Good thing we hadn’t deleted the other copies yet. Arlene has spent many hours this month transferring the rest of them over before deleting the folders for good. We’re sure our Systems librarians will be happy to have the space back on the library’s main storage server.

Alaska’s Digital Archives metadata: In the 18 years we’ve been adding materials to the Alaska’s Digital Archives (23,118 items at last count) and with some changes to the software that runs the Digital Archives, we’ve had to change some of the ways we do our metadata. A lot of that metadata is what makes the items searchable, but some of it includes information about the rights status of items (if we know it) and other various changes that are a little more behind-the-scenes. That’s led to a ton of “legacy” metadata in need of amending. One of the projects within that is to combine three subject fields (Subject.tgm, Subject.lcsh, and Subject.local) into one field, because quite honestly, our users don’t care about the official cataloging source of each subject term. Arlene has merged all of the local terms and about half the LCSH terms into a single field (formerly Subject.tgm which is now just Subject), which has involved individually correcting 3000-4000 records so far. And while in there, she’s been fixing some of the other fields that have changed, like the dates fields, adding rights statements where possible, and a few other behind-the-scenes bits. As you can imagine, this has taken quite a bit of time. Will we ever get all of it fixed? Some of the changes that need to be made aren’t easily searched for, so the answer to that is “probably not.” But once we get a few of these big projects out of the way, we’ll correct the others as we see them.

Researcher time: We know sometimes when you walk by you don’t see anybody doing research with us, but we can promise, it’s still happening! In June we had nearly 90 hours of onsite researcher visits across the three weeks we were open for appointments plus a lot of time spent in distance and virtual researcher interactions (email, zoom consultations, phone). We actually spend a pretty significant amount of our time–as we should!–working with researchers, whether or not they can actually come in to work with the materials themselves.

Researcher appointment procedures: And last but not least, we’re making some big changes to how we offer research appointments starting in July. Hopefully these changes will make it a lot easier for folks to access the materials here in the Archives. Full details are on our appointments page but here’s some spoilers for those of you who don’t have the time to go look at it: expanded times available for appointments, appointments longer than 3 hours, and more simultaneous appointments available (up to 6 people at a time). Also a walk-in option (for those who can access the building) if we’re already open for pre-existing appointments. We still encourage folks to get in touch with us well in advance of their intended visit–especially if traveling to Anchorage–just to improve odds of finding an appointment time that works for you and us.  That appointments page also includes a link to our appointments calendar for the next two months. That calendar can be subject to change but hopefully it will give you a starting point as you think about planning a research visit.

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