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:

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:

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Primary sources, historical documents, old stuff – whatever you want to call it, are really important for helping us understand where we come from and why things are they way they are today!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!

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!

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!



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.


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

October 3 is national #AskAnArchivist Day!


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!


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.


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.

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.

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.”

[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.

[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.

[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.

WWII in the Archives: Records of the Aleutian Islands Campaign

The month of May marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Attu, the only battle during WWII fought on American soil.  On June 2-3, 1942 the Japanese Imperial Navy launched attacks on the American military base of Dutch Harbor.

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Above photographs from the “Alaska at War” documentary materials. Department of Natural Resources, Office of History and Archaeology, AS 28145

In a letter sent to Governor Gruening, Claude Smith, an oil burner installation and maintenance man, describes the conditions at Dutch Harbor providing an interesting firsthand account of the bombings as well as general conditions of the base.

“The morning of June 3d we were just getting up at 5:45 when I heard the sound of plane or planes.  I immediately knew they were not PBY’s or “flying coffins” as we called them.  The first warning we had of the attack was the actual dropping of bombs.”¹

Two days later the islands of Attu and Kiska were taken.  These remote islands had not yet been evacuated and as a result the Unangan (Aleut) residents of Attu Village were taken as prisoners of war by Japanese forces.  This resulted in a mass evacuation of the Aleutian Islands’ 800+ Alaska Native residents who were sent to poorly supplied camps over 1,500 miles from their homelands where many of them died from disease and starvation.²

Within the Office of the Governor’s correspondence files are letters and reports concerning the “Aleut Relocation” [VS 495].  These records, dated 1941-1947, describe the decision processes relating to the evacuation including the sites of relocation which display knowledge of the poor conditions as described in the following telegram dated July 12, 1942:


These records have been digitized and are available online on Alaska’s Digital Archives at under Governor Ernest Gruening’s subject file and correspondence concerning Aleut Relocation.



In 1943, from May 11-30, American troops retook the island of Attu during the Battle of Attu, one of the major conflicts of the Aleutian Islands Campaign.  In the translated and transcribed diary of Nebu Tatsuquhi, a Japanese Medical Corps Officer, the events of the battle unfold as described by him until his death.  His final entry on May 29, 1943 reads:

“Today at 2000 o’clock we assembled at headquarters.  The field hospital took part too, the last assault is to be carried out.  All the patients in the hospital were made to commit suicide.  Only thirty three years of living and I am to die.  I have no regrets.  Banzai to the Emperor.  I am grateful that I have kept the peace in my soul which Enkist bestowed on me.  At 1800 took care of all the patients with a grenade.  Goodbye Tacks, my beloved wife, who loved me to the last.  Until we meet again, grant you godspeed.  Misaka, who just became four years old, will grow up unhindered.  If I feel sorry for you, Takiko, born February this year and gone without seeing your father.  Well, goodbye, Matsue, brother Hochan, Skuchen, Masachan, Mitichan, goodbye.  The number participating in this attack is a little over a thousand.  Will try to take enemy Artillery positions.  It seems the enemy will probably make an all out attack tomorrow.”

In the retaking of Attu the United States troops lost 549 soldiers, while the Japanese forces were nearly all destroyed with 2,400 casualties.³  Included in the U.S. troops was one of Alaska’s own, John Potochnick, Jr., who was awarded the Purple Heart.  In a letter to the soldier’s father, John Potochnick, Sr., Governor Ernest Gruening commends his actions saying:

“In one sense your son John’s experience is unusual because very few Alaska boys took part in the recapture of Attu – most of them came from below and were trained in the states.  It should therefore be a matter of special pride and satisfaction to you that he is one of the few Alaskans who took part in the first battle to drive the Japanese invaders from our American soil, and shared in the honor and glory of that victory.”

Letter to Governor Gruening, August 10, 1943.  Office of the Governor, General Correspondence, 1934-1953, Federal Government — Department of War, 1933-1948, VS 495

For more information on the Aleutian Islands Campaign and Alaska during WWII in general check out the documentary “Alaska at War”, available on the Archives YouTube channel at the following link: 

1. Letter from Claude Smith, 1942. Office of the Governor, General Correspondence, 1934-1953, Federal Government — Department of War, 1933-1948, VS 495.

2. Native Voices Timeline:

3. 75th Battle of Attu Commemoration: 

Collection Spotlight: Alaska Women’s Commission Records

Although Women’s History Month has come to a finish, we wanted to dig into one more collection which focuses on women in Alaska; the records of the Alaska Women’s Commission did not disappoint.

The Alaska Women’s Commission (AWC) stemmed from the creation of the Alaska Commission on the Status of Women, which passed in 1978 as Alaska Statute 44.19.165.  The statute outlined the purpose of the commission as “…to implement the recommendations contained in the preliminary study on the status of women in Alaska which was mandated by the Ninth Legislature, Second Session, under Chapter 99 SLA 1976, and improve the status of women in Alaska by conducting further research and by making and implementing additional recommendations on the opportunities, needs, problems, and contributions of women in Alaska including, but not limited to 1) education, 2) homemaking, 3) civil and legal rights, and 4) labor and employment.”

Office of the Governor, Alaska Women’s Commission (RG53), Publications and Reports (SR640), AWC Poster (AS8528)

The AWC took on a variety of issues affecting women conducting studies, publishing in-depth reports, hosting conferences in rural areas, providing resources and publications, and producing and backing legislation in the interest of women from all backgrounds and from all regions of Alaska.

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The Alaska Women’s Commission records not only record the administrative history of the commission but also offer a view into the issues affecting women during that time on a state and national level.  Photographs, public service announcements, speeches, correspondence files, legislative files, committee meeting packets, and annual reports are just some of the resources available in the AWC records.


“Many outstanding women have helped to shape Alaska by contributing their talents and skills.  To honor these women and to provide visible role models for tomorrow’s leaders, I have established the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame.  These awards will acknowledge the achievements of true pioneers like Lisa Starr Rudd, whose unwavering belief in women’s equality led to the creation of the Alaska Women’s Commission. To memorialize her achievements, the Women’s Hall of Fame is dedicated to her.”  – Governor Steve Cowper

Established in 1988 during the 10th anniversary of the AWC, the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame went on to induct leaders such as civil rights activist Elizabeth Peratrovich, health care professional Arne Beltz, activist and educator Lucy Frey, and mayor and activist Lillie Hope McGarvey.  In box AS 9427 theirs are just a few files among dozens of biographic profiles on the women who have helped shape the history of Alaska.

File folders in Alaska Women’s Commission box AS 9427

These folders include biographical sketches, subject files, photographs, news clippings, and other materials compiled from the State Archives and Library’s Historical Collections as well as from other archives across the state like the University of Alaska’s Archives and Special Collections.  Below are peeks into the files of Mary Antisarlook, Marie Drake and Elinor Dusenbury, Della Keats, and Nell Scott, and represent a sample of materials you might find in these folders.

Mary Antisarlook pioneered reindeer herding at the turn of the 20th century.  [AS 9427]
Marie Drake authored the official Alaska Flag Song, while Elinor Dusenbury composed the music to accompany Drake’s words.  [AS 9427]
Della Keats dedicated her life to medical practice and traditional healing.  [AS 9427]
Nell Scott became the first woman elected to serve as a Territorial Representative in 1937.  [AS 9427]
In a letter to Governor Hickel in 1991 Mary McClinton and Carol Mikon, Chair and Vice Chair of the AWC, stress the importance of the commission, its effectiveness and inclusiveness, and their intention of “minimizing the use of state dollars and pursuing efforts to increase the independence and decrease long term dependence of women on state services.”  While the AWC was ultimately consolidated with the Alaska Commission on Children into the Alaska Human Relations Commission in 1993, during their existence they branched out, helping communities establish local councils and commissions on a regional scale in places like Juneau, Sitka, Anchorage, Utqiaġvik (formerly Barrow), and Fairbanks, some of which still exist today.

If you’re interested in digging further into the Alaska Women’s Commission records (RG53), you can visit us at the Alaska State Archives, located on the second floor of the Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff Building in downtown Juneau, Alaska.  We’re open to the public Tuesday – Friday from 10a – 4p*.

*Summer hours begin April 30th.  The Archives will be open Monday – Friday, 10a – 4p.

Caption reads: “Gov. Hammond signs a proclamation designating the week of March 8-14 as Women’s History Week. From left are: Emma G. Widmark, grand president, Alaska Native Sisterhood; Jean Munro, representative, Future Homemakers of America; Blanche L. McSmith, representative, National Council of Negro Women; Donna Flint, representative, Soroptimists International of Juneau; Chottie Angst, representative, League of Women Voters; Caren Robinson, director, AWARE, Inc.; Barbara A. Dale, vice chairwoman, Commission on the Status of Women; Susan Clark, representative, American Association of University Women; and Laraine L. Glenn, representative, Girl Scouts.” Photo credit: Chuck Kleeschulte. [AS 8536]