Online Educational Resources

While you hunker down, why not take advantage of the digital resources available that allow kids (and adults) to take a trip into the past and explore important events and people throughout Alaskan history? All from the comfort of home.

The Alaska State Archives has developed an education section on our website which includes primary source topic pages – perfect for students to examine and analyze original records that document our state’s rich history such as the 1945 Anti-Discrimination Act or the telegrams from Governor Bone detailing the heroic Serum Run of 1925.

Click the following link to visit the Alaska History Topic pages: https://archives.alaska.gov/education/topics.html

But don’t stop there.

Come “visit” one of our online exhibits! Learn about the Alaskan experience during World War I, explore the devastating environmental disaster of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, or be inspired by some of the women who have shaped our state throughout history. To view the exhibits click on the following exhibit titles:

  1. Women of Alaska
  2. Remembering the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
  3. Alaska and WWI: A Centennial Exhibit
Screenshot from the exhibit Alaska and WWI: A Centennial Exhibit.

Not seeing a topic that interests you or your stuck-at-home student?

Check out Alaska’s Digital Archives, an online consortium of cultural institutions across the state who regularly upload digitized materials from their historical collections! Search for a specific topic/person/place or browse the collections of museums and archives across the state.

Visit Alaska’s Digital Archives at: https://vilda.alaska.edu/

We spend a lot of time today looking at the news, but how were people reporting on past events? The Alaska State Library, in partnership with the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities, has been digitizing historical newspapers for the inclusion in the text-searchable online database Chronicling America. Through this resource you can use keywords to search people, places, and events and narrow your results to Alaskan newspapers such as The Alaska Daily Empire (Juneau) or The Thlinget (Sitka), OR see what other states were saying about us by searching newspapers across the nation!

Image from Chronicling America of the first issue of The Thlinget, Vol. 1, No. 1, published August 1908.

Why take the time to look at something old?

Primary sources, historical documents, old stuff – whatever you want to call it, are really important for helping us understand where we come from and why things are they way they are today! From civics to science, primary sources are original records that can provide “students [with] a powerful sense of history and the complexity of the past” and give “unfiltered access to the record of artistic, social, scientific and political thought and achievement during the specific period under study, produced by people who lived during that period.” (Library of Congress)

So now that you’ve found something cool, what do you do?

“The Oil & Its Impact”, map from the July 9, 1989 issue of the Anchorage Daily Times.

When you’re looking at a document, photograph, or an object start with observations. What are you looking at? When do you think it was made? Who created it, and for what purpose? Then start digging a little deeper. If this photograph was taken in the early 1900s, why do you think it includes the people it does? How are they dressed? Do you notice any people or groups that might be missing from the photo? If you’re looking at an aerial photograph of a glacier, do you think that glacier looks the same today? Launch Google Earth and check it out!

Google Earth image of the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska.

There are tons of resources on the internet that offer activities for analyzing primary sources, the following can help you get started:

  1. Teacher’s Guide: Analyzing Primary Sources” from the Library of Congress
  2. Document Analysis Worksheet” from the U.S. National Archives

Questions about any of our resources? Contact Leah Geibel, Archivist at the Alaska State Archives.

New Online Exhibit Features Alaska and World War One

You may remember back in July when we posted about our Alaska and World War I: A Centennial Exhibit featuring archival materials such as historical photographs and documents that provide a window into how the Great War affected Alaskans.  If you live in Juneau and haven’t had the chance to check it out, make sure you do!  The exhibit is located on the second floor hall, opposite the entrance to the State Library.

However if you are not planning a trip to the state capitol any time soon, we are excited to announce that the exhibit is now live online, for you to visit from the comfort of your living room or classroom!

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CLICK HERE to visit the online exhibit 

The records featured in the exhibit are just a small portion of what the State Archives and State Library Historical Collections hold in their collections so if you’re interested in learning more be sure to contact us or plan a visit!

10/10 Electronic Records Day

10/10 is #ERecsDay!  Today we’ll be sharing tips on electronic records management and State Records Manager, Jennifer Treadway, will be standing by to take all questions related to electronic records management!

Jump on Instagram (follow us @akstatearchives) and check out our story for tips, send us messages or comment on our posts with questions, or send us an email at archives@alaska.gov!

While you’re thinking of questions, check out this year’s Electronic Records Day poster below for some tips on managing records and get the answer to the question, “If a bear goes into the woods, do her electronic records survive?”.

10.10.2018 Electronic Records Day Poster

Click HERE to download the 2018 Electronic Records Day poster (PDF)

Happy #ERecs Day from all of us at the Alaska State Archives!

 

ARCHIVES MONTH 2018

It’s October 1, and we all know what that means – the start of Archives Month!!  What’s Archives Month?  The month of October is dedicated to celebrating and advocating archives in the United States, and we at the Alaska State Archives have some exciting things coming up this month that we would like to share!

To begin, we are so excited to reveal this year’s Archives Month poster featuring historical photographs depicting the recession of Mendenhall Glacier over the past century.

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Click here to download the Alaska State Archives 2018 Archives Month poster

October 3 is national #AskAnArchivist Day!

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Jump online and ask us any questions you have about archives or what it’s like to be an archivist!  To learn more about this event check out our press release!  You can question us on Twitter @AKStateLibrary and on Instagram @akstatearchives (use the hashtag #AKArchivists & #AskAnArchivist).  We can’t wait to answer your questions!

October 10 is Electronic Records Day – keep an eye out for our informative, funny, and very Alaskan poster that will help answer any questions you have about electronic records.

On October 18 (up here we know it as Alaska Day) the Alaska State Archives will be OPEN FOR BUSINESS.  Drop by to meet our staff, check out some cool collections we’ll have on display, and gather information about how to start research in the archives or how to care for your own archival collection!  We’ll be here to answer any questions you have!

Check back on the blog throughout the month for fun facts and tips about archiving, archival collections, and the archivists behind it all!

HAPPY ARCHIVES MONTH!!!

Alaska and World War I: A Centennial Exhibit

For the past few months the Alaska State Archives has teamed up with the Alaska State Library Historical Collections to curate an exhibit featuring historical records from our collections to tell the story of Alaska during the Great War.  We’re excited to announce the exhibit has been fully installed and ready for you to visit!  Located on the second floor of the Andrew P. Kashevaroff building in downtown Juneau, this exhibit features historical photographs and documents which provide a window into a critical time in the history of the early 20th century: a time when global war transformed the world and impacted Alaska.

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The exhibit is divided into four main sections: Alaska Goes to War, The Front, The Home Front, and Armistice and After the War.  Each section examines the way in which the war was impacting Alaska and how Alaskans met and worked through these challenges.

Of the more than 10,000 men in Alaska who enlisted to serve between 1917 and 1918, 2,200 were inducted into service.  However not all men (and certainly no women) were allowed to enlist, regardless of how much they wanted to serve their country.  While Alaska Natives were turned away from registration offices¹, 12,000 American Indians from the Lower 48 volunteered to serve in the armed forces during World War I².

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This registration card was returned with eight others to the Oregon school where the young men registered along with a letter from the governor stating “…the registration of Indians, Aleuts, and Eskimos, whether of whole or mixed blood, should be “deferred for the present,” and accordingly instructions were given to all registrars throughout the Territory not to register such persons.” [Alaska State Archives, VS 76]
Many women eager to help with the war effort signed up with the American Red Cross and were sent overseas to care for wounded soldiers in field hospitals.  One such nurse was Mollie B. Smith of Valdez, Alaska.  In a letter to her sister, published in the November 6, 1918 issue of the Cordova Daily Herald, she describes her experiences on the front:

“Everyone wants to go to the front; then when one gets in to the front line hospital, she is not satisfied until she gets into the dressing station or first aid station. In fact, I do not think the American over here will ever be satisfied until they can march into Berlin.”

“About dusk we reached the French hospital called Ambulance 5-11. Madame Tancenf turned her large estate over to the military department at the beginning of the war. The chateau contained an operating room, dressing rooms, a kitchen, and five wards. Besides these were five tents, capacity in all about 250 beds.”

“…after many questions, we learned the few orders which were necessary for our night’s work. Four delirious men, all the rest terribly ill. Someone was always getting out of bed, or raving for water. The few who slept had nightmares, and talked incessantly about going over the top.”

“I fear the American nurses near the front may become spoiled by the admiration bestowed upon them by the American soldiers. But hardly, for these little things are what make life endurable, for no one can paint the tragedy or strenuousness of a front line hospital. And I’m sure, at least, most of the nurses would be glad to change places with the soldiers and have the opportunity of going over the top.”

Like Mollie’s letter, news from the front was reported in local papers as letters made their way to loved ones at home.

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Alaska State Library, selections from historical Alaskan newspapers.

At home Alaskans were supporting the war effort through the purchase of Victory Loans, fundraisers and charity events, and pulling more than their weight in the work force.

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Home defense was also on the minds of Americans and Home Guard organizations began to pop up in larger towns throughout Alaska.  By 1918 there were units in Anchorage, Seward, Fairbanks, Ketchikan, Sitka, Cordova, Juneau, and Eagle.  As far as daily duties were concerned it varied from town to town depending on population and resources.  While Fairbanks organized watch shifts for Guard members, a note in a report from Sitka speaks to the operation of a smaller Guard (89 members compared to 168 in Fairbanks according to a 1918 report):

“Company under organization.  During summer months majority of company absent, engaged in fish and other industries.  Plan for active drill during coming fall and winter, and to be available to guard Government property, water frontage at Sitka, or other duty for which available.”

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[Alaska State Archives, VS 160]
The fear of foreigners, especially those of German descent, was becoming an issue so much so that in 1917 Governor J.F.A. Strong issued a proclamation reminding Alaskans that “no word or deed on the part of American citizens should operate to incite racial feeling or create prejudice against those who have come to the Territory for the purposes of bettering their condition and enjoying the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness“.

During this time the Spanish Flu, a dangerous and sometimes fatal pandemic, spread across the world. Thousands in Alaska died, as well as Alaskans serving in the war effort outside of the Territory.

When the war ended many Alaskans were eager to come home and take up their old jobs.  Among those wishing for a speedy discharge were fisherman and prospectors, whose yearly salaries were dependent on specific seasonal work.  Despite the governor’s efforts to secure discharges for Alaskan soldiers, release from the armed forces was slow and many continued to serve after the war.

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[Alaska State Archives, VS 176]
After the war Alaskans wanted to honor and document those that served in the war. In 1923 the Alaskan Territorial Legislature passed an Act that asked the Secretary of Alaska to document veterans inducted into service in Alaska. A few years later the Alphabetical List of Alaska World War Ex-Service Persons was generated. Although this record did not list Alaskans that enlisted in Canada and fought with the British Expeditionary Forces or women that served in the Red Cross, it provided a comprehensive record of the nearly 2,200 Alaskan soldiers that were inducted into service during World War I.

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[Alaska State Archives, AS 34124]
Interested in learning more about Alaska during World War I?  Come check out the exhibit for yourself!  Like what you see?  Learn more about this topic through your research at our Research Center which houses both the Alaska State Archives and Alaska State Library Historical Collections, we’re free and open to the public from 10am-4pm Monday-Friday.  For those of you who can’t travel to Juneau physically, don’t worry, we’re working on a digital exhibit that will include even MORE historical documents that we weren’t able to fit into our physical exhibit space (no matter how hard we tried).  Stay tuned!


  1. Alaska Natives were allowed to register in late October of 1918, less than two weeks before the end of the war, according to an October 21, 1918 article published in the Alaska Daily Empire.
  2. “1917: American Indians volunteer for WWI”, Native Voices.   https://www.nlm.nih.gov/nativevoices/timeline/650.html