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Blacks in Alaska History project records

Guide to the Blacks in Alaska History Project records

Collection number: HMC-0681.
Harper, George T. (1930-2004).
Blacks in Alaska History Project.
Title: Blacks in Alaska History Project records.
Dates: 1953-2004.
Volume of collection: 9.4 cubic feet.
Language of materials: Collection materials in English.
Collection summary: Project records and research files related to a project documenting African Americans in Alaskan history.

Organizational history:
George T. Harper was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1930. He graduated from high school in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1948, and then served in the U.S. Navy. Harper later received a B. S. degree from Chase College in 1960. He then pursued a career in computer programming. Harper first visited Alaska in 1980, and later moved to Anchorage in 1981. He was a computer programmer for the Bureau of Land Management, until his retirement in 1992. He also worked as a computer consultant and taught computer classes at the University of Alaska Anchorage. In 1989, Harper created his first Black History Month exhibit, and in 1992, created an exhibit honoring Black U.S. Army Engineers who constructed the Alaska Highway during World War II. With the help of interested friends, Harper co-founded the Blacks in Alaska History Project, which was incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1995. The purpose of the project was to pursue information and historical photographs documenting the presence and contributions of African Americans in Alaska, maintain the resulting collection, and create exhibits and lectures publicizing these historical resources. George Harper died in Anchorage, Alaska, in 2004.

Collection description:
The collection consists of the Alaskan Black History related papers of George Harper, president and co-founder of the Blacks in Alaska History Project, Inc. The collection is organized into six series: 1) administrative records; 2) exhibit materials; 3) photographs; 4) clippings and publication files; 5) research and reference subject files; and 6) videocassettes. The project records, photographs, exhibits, reference materials, and other papers document the activities of George Harper and the Blacks in Alaska History Project in seeking documentation of African Americans in Alaska, and producing public photographic exhibits, lectures, and other presentations. The George Harper Photograph Collection includes over one thousand prints and negatives. Subjects of the exhibits and slide shows include: Blacks History Month; Black U. S. Army Engineers who constructed the Alaska Highway during World War II; Black women in Alaska history; the career of U.S. Revenue Cutter Service Captain Michael A. Healy and the ice-breaker named in his honor; and Blacks who participated in the Alaska Gold Rush.

Arrangement: The collection is divided into several series: project records, exhibit materials, photographs, clippings and publications files, research and reference subject files, and videocassettes.

Digitized copies: This collection has not been digitized. Please see the use restrictions note for more details.

Use restrictions: A large portion of this collection consists of photographs and documents copied from archival, library or personal collections elsewhere.  Archives & Special Collections cannot duplicate these materials: copies must be obtained from the holding institution or individuals.

Preferred citation: Blacks in Alaska History Project records, Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage.

Folder/item list: A more extensive list of the contents of the collection—to item level in some series—is available in the Archives and Special Collections research area.

Acquisition note: The collection was presented to the archives by George T. Harper through his will in 2004. Transfer of the papers was facilitated by Chris Sitbon. Additional materials were added to the collection in 2007.

Processing information: This collection was originally arranged and described by Jeffrey Sinnott in 2005. The finding aid was updated and some materials rearranged in 2010 by Arlene Schmuland. Joshua Cress moved the collection into new boxes in 2015 and updated the container list. Additional versions of the Blacks in Alaska posters were added by Becky Butler in 2023.

Location of originals: This collection contains copies of source materials held at a wide variety of archives, libraries, and in private collections across the United States and Canada.  Individual items are accompanied by details indicating the original source.

Container list:
Series 1: Administrative records; 1982-2003.
This series includes project administrative records such as board meeting records, grant information, outreach documents, correspondence and newsletters.

Box/Folder Description Dates
1/1-34 General administrative records and correspondence. 1982, 1990-2003
1/35-2/32 Correspondence and newsletters. 1994-2003

Series 2: Exhibit materials; undated, 1991-2004.
This series includes slide shows, exhibit and lecture files, exhibit materials, and artwork.

Box/Folder Description Dates
2/33-44 Slide shows and exhibit files. Undated, 1991-2004
3-4 Exhibit prints and captions. Undated, 1991-2004
oversize Exhibit materials, artwork, Blacks in Alaska posters Undated

Series 3: Photographs; undated, 1868-2003.
This series consists of reference images collected during research and some images taken of Project events. The date span includes the dates of the original items, many of which exist only in copied form in this series.

Box/Folder Description Dates
3-5/32 Photographs. Undated, 1868-2003

Series 4: Clippings and publications files; undated, 1899-2003.
This series includes biographical, subject and obituary clippings, articles and other publications.  The date span includes the dates of the original items, many of which exist only in copied form in this series.

Box Description Date
5/33-6/74 Clippings files. 1899-2003
6/75-7/10, 8 Articles and publications. Undated, 1953-2003

Series 5: Research and reference subject files; undated, 1883-2003.
This series includes research files and collected duplicate sources on Captain Michael A. Healy, the building of the Alaska Highway, and African Americans in military service in Alaska.

Box Description Date
7/11-39 Subject files. Undated, 1883-2003

Series 6: Videocassettes; undated, 1984-2002.
This series contains videotapes of documentaries and news coverage, covering both Alaskan African American history and national African American history topics.

Box Description Dates
9 Videocassettes. Undated, 1984-2002

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