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Ruben Gaines papers

Guide to the Ruben Gaines papers

Collection number: HMC-0110.
Creator: Gaines, Ruben.
Title: Ruben Gaines papers.
Dates: 1952-1994.
Volume of collection: 3.0 cubic feet and 10.0 GB.
Language of materials: Collection materials are in English.
Collection summary: Papers and recordings of an Alaskan broadcaster, poet, and storyteller.

Biographical note:
Ruben Gaines was born in 1912. During World War II, he worked in Hollywood, California, as a radio broadcaster. He came to Alaska around 1946 to work in radio broadcasting in Fairbanks, and moved to Anchorage in 1950. He is best known for his daily five-minute radio program, Conversations Unlimited in which he presented readings of his stories about life in Alaska. He published several books of poetry, including On Distance and Recall, and A Chugach Album and On Youth. He served as Alaska State Poet Laureate from 1973 to 1978. Ruben Gaines died in Anchorage in 1994.

Collection description:
The collection consists of the papers of Ruben Gaines relating to his work as an author and radio broadcaster. The collection is divided into three series: papers and published works; artwork; reel-to-reel audiotapes; phonograph albums; and oversize documents. The papers include correspondence from Gaines to Alaskan artist Rusty Huerlin; Gaines’ unpublished manuscripts of novels, plays, and poetry; scripts for Conversations Unlimited radio programs; scripts for other programs including Pop and Beluga Bugle; artwork and illustrations for Conversations Unlimited and other presentations; reference materials; and six Gold Rush era photographs. The artwork includes 311 color slides illustrate episodes of Beluga Bugle and other stories; 12 drawings on illustration board, and five oversize drawings and prints. The audio recordings include 30 reel-to-reel audiotapes, which are recordings of Conversations Unlimited, Pop, Beluga Bugle and other stories and poetry, along with 28 CDA master discs and 28 reference audiocassettes of those recordings. There are also four published LP phonograph album, which  include three different volumes of Conversations Unlimited stories and Chilkoot Charlie Writ’n’Reed by Ruben Gaines.

Arrangement: The collection is divided into 3 series:

Series 1: Papers and published works; 1952-1979
Series 2: Artwork; undated
Series 3: Audio recordings; 1961-1983

Subseries 3a: Conversations Unlimited; 1966-1968
Subseries 3b: Beluga Bugle; undated
Subseries 3c. Pop; undated
Subseries 3d. Tapes of unknown origin; 1961-1983
Subseries 3e: Reference copies of Series 3 reel-to-reel audiotapes; 1961-1968
Subseries 3f: Long playing (33.33 rpm) discs; 1966-1968

Digitized copies: Digital copies of many of the broadcast recordings are available on the Alaska’s Digital Archives. For information about obtaining digital copies, please contact Archives and Special Collections.

Rights note: Archives and Special Collections owns copyright to materials to which Ruben Gaines owned copyright.

Preferred citation: Ruben Gaines papers, Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage.

Separated materials: Three books were integrated into the Consortium Library, UAA/APU’s rare books collection in order to facilitate access via library catalog. The Library catalog is located on the Consortium Library website at consortiumlibrary.org. Below is a list of the books added to the rare books collection:

Conversations Unlimited  bound book of volumes 1-6 published in 1972. Inscribed in the front cover is “For my Pal, the unquenchable Lu—Ruben Gaines.” Lu’s full name is Luella S. Ausman.

A Chugach Album and On Youth are verses by Ruben Gaines that was published in 1979.

On Distance and Recall and Other Verse was published in 1980. The book contains annotations and edits.

Acquisition note: The collection was presented to the archives by Ruben Gaines in 1986. A deed of gift was signed in 1987. Papers were added in 1987 and 1991. Two phonograph albums were transferred to the archives from the Technical Services Department. Two phonograph albums were acquired by the archives in 2001. Additional materials were donated by Janyce Ibele in 2017.

Processing information: This collection was described by Jeffrey Sinnott in 2004. Collection description reformatted and updated by Mariecris Gatlabayan in 2013. An addition to the collection was added by Gwen Higgins in 2018.

Container list:

Series 1: Papers and published works; 1952-1979, undated. 0.75 cubic feet.

The collection contains correspondence, unpublished manuscripts, scripts, photographs, clippings, and programs.

Box/Folder Description Dates
1/1 Correspondence with Rusty Heurlin. 1970, 1974
1/2 Unpublished manuscript: The Amazing Daisies and Other (Mostly Alaskan) Verse by Ruben Gaines. undated
1/3 Unpublished manuscript: Vigil on the Hill, An Alaskan Novel by Ruben Gaines (folder 1). undated
1/4 Unpublished manuscript: Vigil on the Hill, An Alaskan Novel by Ruben Gaines (folder 2). undated
1/5 Unpublished manuscript: Vigil on the Hill, An Alaskan Novel by Ruben Gaines, cover and loose pages. undated
1/6 Unpublished manuscript: Coho by Ruben Gaines. undated
1/7 Unpublished manuscript: Adam’s Harvest by Ruben Gaines. undated
1/8 Unpublished manuscript: Adam’s Harvest (cover) by Ruben Gaines. undated
1/9 Unpublished manuscript: Goodbye, Proxy…A Drama in 5 Scenes by Ruben Gaines. undated
1/10 Unpublished manuscript: American Album by Ruben Gaines. undated
1/11 Unpublished manuscript: Dictionary by Ruben Gaines. undated
1/12 Unpublished manuscript:  poetry by Ruben Gaines (enclosed with a letter to Louella Ausman, Pioneer Home. circa 1972
1/13 Scripts: Conversations Unlimited by Ruben Gaines. undated
1/14 Scripts: Beluga Bugle by Ruben Gaines. undated
1/15 Scripts: Beluga Bugle cover. undated
1/16 Scripts: Pop – A Ruben Gaines Cartoon. undated
1/17 Poetry by other authors. undated
1/18 Recollections of Leroy N. McQuesten – Life in the Yukon 1871-1885. Copied from the original owned by the Yukon Order of Pioneers. 1871-1885, 1952 June
1/19 Alaskan photographs.  Contains 6 black and white prints.

a.“Klondikers camping at Lake Bennett, June 1st 1898.” Larrs & Duclos Photos, Dawson; Copyright 1898. [5.75 X 8 inch.]

b.“Kieth and Wilson Mine on French Hill;” E. A. Hegg photo. [5 X 7 inch]

c.“Lower switch-back, Thompson Pass, Valdez-Fairbanks Trail;” P. S. Hunt photo. [4 X 6 inch]

d.Winter street scene. [3 X 8 inch]

e. Winter scene of horses, sleds and men climbing mountain pass. [3.75 X 6.25 inch]

f.View of glacier field from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain near Valdez. [3 X 5 inch].

undated, 1898
1/20 Truck rodeo program booklet. 1952
1/21 Laminated clippings. 1978
1/22 Clippings entitled “A-67.” undated, 1952-1953, 1968
1/23 Ruben Gaines Memorial Gathering program undated, 1994
MF/1 Facsimile reproduction of the “Our American Cousin” theater program used at Ford’s Theatre the night Abraham Lincoln was shot and a poster offering a reward printed after Lincoln’s assassination. undated
MF/2 Laminated clipping from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner with a reproduction of a mural by Rusty Heurlin entitled “Getting Away,” and the article, “Alaska’s Big Picture.” 1967 May 27

Series 2: Artwork; undated. 0.5 cubic feet.

Box/Folder Description Dates
1/24 Beluga Bugle illustrations, episodes 1-20: 139 slides. undated
1/25 Beluga Bugle illustrations, episodes 21-32: 110 slides. undated
1/26 52 slides of unidentified illustrations. 10 slides of Lyman Woodman’s historical slides. undated
1/27 Watercolor (?) sketch of a bear trapping a skier in an outhouse and using the skis for firewood. undated
Box 5 12 drawings on illustration board featuring Alaskan animals, including bears, moose, ducks, seals, and fish, as well as people undated
MF/3 Drawing entitled, “From the Coolidges – Jewel Lake”; caption reads “Ruben, We Are Shore Glad to Have You back at the Diggin’s Again.” undated
MF/4 Conversations Unlimited drawing, yellow chalk on black construction paper. undated
MF/5 Block print of a man and bear, black ink on rice paper. Written in pencil is “Proof AEP.” undated
MF/6 Chalk drawing. Caption reads “Mrs Maloney, Written and Narrated by Ruben Gaines, Produced by Frank Brink Productions, Anchorage, Alaska.” undated
MF/7 Chalk drawing. Caption reads “Chilkoot Charlie – Writ `N’ Read by Ruben Gaines, produced by Frank Brink Productions, Anchorage, Alaska.” undated

Series 3: Audio recordings; 1961-1983. 1.4 cubic feet.

This series contains 30 reel-to-reel audiotapes of various sizes: 0.25 inch, 28-7 inch, 2-5 inch, as well as 4 long playing (33.33 rpm) discs. Series 3 also contains 28 CDs master discs and 28 reference copies of the audiotapes.

Series 3. Audio recordings. Subseries 3a: Conversations Unlimited;1966-1968, undated. 0.3 cubic feet.

This series contains 12 reels, 7 inch reels. To listen to reference copies, refer to Series 3e.

Box/Tape Description Dates
2/A-1 Tape #1; October 12, 1966. 1966 October 12
2/A-2 Tape #2; October 12, 1966. 1966 October 12
2/A-3 Album #2 in the series, Master #1. Side 1: Cuts 1 (8:02); 2 (10:52); 3 (4:50). 1/4 inch track. 1967 January 5
2/A-4 Album #2 in the series, Master #2. Side 2: Cuts 1 (4:47); 2 (7:56); 3 (7:00); 4 (6:15). 1967 January-February
2/A-5 Conversations Unlimited  #3. Master album #3. Side 1: Cuts 1 (7:40); 2 (6:20); 3 (7:01); 4 (5:10). 1/4 inch tape and 7 1/2 IPS. 1967 September
2/A-6 Conversations Unlimited #3. Master album #3. Side 2: Cuts 1 (5:31); 2 (10:32); 3 (8:04). 1967 September
2/A-7 Conversations Unlimited #4. Master. Side 1: Cuts 1, 2, 3. 1968 March-April
2/A-8 Conversations Unlimited #4. Master. Side 2: Cuts 1 (6:56), 2 (8:39); 3 (8:47). 1968 March-April
2/A-9 Conversations Unlimited #2. Abercrombie (2:55); Abercrombie (2:25); Mosquitoes (3:04); Folsom Poem (3:08); Dog (3:10); Richardson hiway (3:07); Gruening (3:49); Chilkoot (3:18); Pat O’Donnel (3:19); Kenai Peninsula (2:07); Kenai Peninsula (2:37); Home Flight (3:28); Bering (2:23); Dolly V. Trout (2:40); Loons (2:50). undated
2/A-10 Conversations Unlimited  #3. Breakup (2:41); Gus, dogs (3:10); Contemplators (2:45); Air View (3:25); Smoke Spiral (3:03); Oracle (2:46); Kenai Lakes (3:01); Cook Inlet (3:00); Grayling (3:12); Moose (2:47); Geese (2:57); Iditarod Poem (2:42); The Arrow Poem (2:33); Tom’s Creek (2:42); Ice Sounds (2:54); and, Sheep (2:30). undated
2/A-11 Conversations Unlimited. Bush Pilots (3:42); Anchorage (2:38); Buildings (2:55); Alexander Lake (2:41); Outhouses (2:28); Owls (2:48); Year 2077 (3:04); Indian Calendar (3:06); Cloudy McKinley (2:32); Salmon (3:28); Fishwheel (3:12); Tunes for Skunked Fishermen (2:24); Moon (2:20); Ball in Ketchikan (2:20); Percy DeWolfe (3:25); Sheenjac Sheep (2:30). undated
2/A-12 Conversations Unlimited. Ducks (3:17); Iliamna Wind (3:15); Garden 1 (1:52); Garden 2 (1:50); Garden 3; Snowfall (3:24); Shismaref (2:37); Fog-McK. (2:30); McK. (2:54); Ak. Names (2:26); Butterfly Lake (3:16); Falling Down (3:25); D-2 Prodigy (1:59); Jean Lake (2:27); Winding Creek (2:17); Good Posture (2:42). undated

Series 3. Audio recordings. Subseries 3b: Beluga Bugle; undated. 0.15 cubic feet.

This series contains two 7-inch reels. To listen to reference copies, refer to Series 3e.

Box/Item Description Dates
2/B-1 Beluga Bugle: Dolly V. Trout (:57); Bulba Sleeky (1:00); Belshazzar (1:00); Weather (:45); Gardening (1:00); Boink (:47); Portage Gl. (:48); Cornerstone (:54); Fishing Season (:55); Boink (1:02); Battle of Big Horn (:53); Gardening (:55); Nickname (:58); Spenard Rd. (1:03); Queen Mary (1:02); SST (:53); Misc. (:50); Boink (:50); Nickname (:51); Wild Game (:44). undated
2/B-2 Beluga Bugle: Wild Game Dinners; Weather Rep’t; Miscellaneous; J. Abendego Boink; Births at Intersections; Opportunity State; Zoo Trades; Traffic; Plantimals; Alaskan Menu; Gardening; Miscellaneous; J. Abendego Boink; Traffic; Miscellaneous; Detour; State Naming; Xmas Tree. undated

Series 3. Audio recordings. Subseries 3c: Pop; undated. 0.05 cubic feet.

This collection contains one 7-inch reel. To listen to reference copies, refer to Series 3e.

Box/Item Description Dates
2/C-1 Pop. undated

Series 3. Audio recordings. Subseries 3d: Tapes of unknown origin; 1961-1983. 0.5 cubic feet.

This collection contains 15 reels, 13 7-inch and 2 5-inch reels. The reels with months and dates after each recording title may reference broadcasts Ruben Gaines recorded prior to absences from the station. To listen to reference copies, refer to Series 3e.

Box/Item Description Dates
2/D-1 Cole to Gaines. 5 inch reel. 1962
2/D-2 Klondike Master. undated
2/D-3 Verse. Whaler (:59); In Waiting (:37); Remembrance (:27); Lake Music (:41); Prospecting (:41); Beaches (:33); Creek (:30); Private (:24); 2 Passings (:30); Anticipation (:29); Ak Springtime (:59); Iliamna (:53); Silence (1:00); Hills and Time (:29); Fox (:51); Dawn (:23); Dawning (:25); Grove (1:00); Nite Scene (:59); Investment (1:02); Dump Truck (:55); Baranof (2:00). undated
2/D-4 Haworth to Gaines. Copy of tape 2/20. Quality of tape is poor. 1961 December
2/D-5 Haworth to Gaines. 1961 December
2/D-6 Unidentified: Chilkoot – Guess Who, 2/26; Iliamna – The Chutes, 3/31; Expatriate Alaskans, 3/2; Totem Poles, 3/3; Abandoned Cabin (poem), 3/4; Sears, 3/5; Abandoned Car, 3/8. undated
2/D-7 Alaska State BK: 1983 Vacation, possibly Conversations Unlimited. Pile Bay, Winter, 10/10; Indian Chiefs, 10/11; Cat at Big Bear Lake, 10/12; Pictures on My Wall, 10/13; Sears Catalog, 10/14; Hypnosis Happening, 10/17; Ted O’Shea, 10/18; Mouse on Pile-B-Tacoma, 10/19; Nahcritany, 10/20; Gazer in Chch, 10/21. 1983
2/D-8 Unidentified, possibly Conversations Unlimited: Grayling, 11/17; Place Names, 11/18; Ester, 11/19; Glaciers, 11/20; Late Winter, 11/23; Talkeetna Poem, 11/24; Mrs. Maloney, 11/25; Moose on Alex. Creek, 11/26; Silence, 11/27; Dictionary, 11/30. 1981
2/D-9 Unidentified: L. Johnson, Cussing, Dogs, 4/22; Edwin Way Teale, 4/23; Skeets Herfurt, 4/26; Dowser, 4/27; Garden, 4/28; Emil Jannings, 4/29; Guinness, 4/30; Place Names, 5/3. 1983
2/D-10 Unidentified: Russian Fisherman, 1/24; Mt. St. Augustine, 1/25; Loons, 1/26; Bears, 1/27; Snow, 1/28; Killer Whales, 1/31; Norseman, 2/1; Place Names, 2/2; Quiet Inlet, 2/4; Exaggeration, 2/4; Guinness, 2/7. 1983
2/D-11 Unidentified: Potholes, 3/30; Lost Moose, 3/31; Coughlin, 4/9; Murie – Verse, 4/2; Booze – Revolution, 4/5; Sears, 4/6; Waters #1, 4/7; Waters #2, 4/8; Wineries, 4/12; Sears-R, 4/13; NZ-Poem, 4/16; Lakes-Trees, 4/19; Cliches, 4/20; Portland Trolleys, 4/21. 1982
2/D-12 Unidentified, 1983 Vacation: Polar Bear (and poem), 10/24; Sea Otters, 10/25; Geese, 10/26; Oldtimers, 10/27; Thoughts while trolling; Guinness, 10/31; The Bear – The Sophia, 11/1; Cliche Zoo, 11/2; Cold Snap, 11/3; Veniaminoff, 11/4. 1983
2/D-13 Unidentified: Birches (with poem), 9/11; Iliamna Weather, 9/14; Park’s Bear (with poem), 9/15; Place Names, 9/16; Home Reminiscences (W.P.), 9/17; Schwatka, 9/18; Garland (Stampeder), 9/21. 1981
2/D-14 Unidentified: blank. 5 inch reel. undated
2/D-15 Interview with Dennis Cook of the Alaska 67 Centennial Exposition describing a job as special events manager being offered to Ruben Gaines. Recorded at KFAR. 1967 April 5

Series 3. Audio recordings. Subseries 3e: Reference copies of Series 3 reel-to-reel audiotapes; 1961-1968. 0.25 cubic feet.

28 audiocassettes and 28 CDs.

Box Description Dates
3 Audiocassettes and CD reference copies of A1-A12. undated, 1966-1968
3 Audiocassettes and CD reference copies of B1-B2. undated
3 Audiocassettes and CD reference copies of C1. undated
3 Audiocassettes and CD reference copies of D1-D15. No CDs or audiocassettes exist for duplicate tape D4 or blank tape D14. 1961-1983

Series 3. Audio recordings. Subseries 3f: Long playing (33.33 rpm) discs; undated, 1966-1968. 0.25 cubic feet.

Box/Item Description Dates
4/1 Chilkoot Charlie Writ’n’Read by Ruben Gaines. undated
4/2 Conversation Unlimited with Ruben Gaines: vol. 1. circa 1966
4/3 Conversation Unlimited with Ruben Gaines: vol. 3. circa 1967
4/4 Conversation Unlimited with Ruben Gaines: vol. 4. circa 1968


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