New! Alaska & Polar Regions Collections and Archives Digital Repository

Elmer E. Rasmuson Library is pleased to announce the launch of the Alaska & Polar Regions Collections and Archives (APRCA) Digital Repository accessible at

The APRCA Digital Repository was created to provide access to some of Rasmuson Library’s unique digital resources, including items from the Alaska Film Archives, the Archives unit, the Oral History unit, and the Rare Books & Maps unit.

Visitors to this site are invited to browse by subject, collection, topic and type of object. The repository is in its early phase and library units are continuing to add content.

Funding for this project was provided as a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

For inquiries about this project, contact Ilana Kingsley at

Alaska & Polar Regions Collections and Archives (APRCA) Digital Repository

Otto Geist’s Treasure

There’s a mystery afoot in the APR Collection and Archives Research Room! Well, technically, it’s been a mystery here at UAF since 1938. Some of you may already know the story: Otto Geist, self-made paleontologist and well-known Fairbanksonian, reportedly buried mammoth tusks somewhere on campus. Some say it was to spite a rival, others say it was to test “proofing” methods to better preserve the fragile material. Whatever the reason, no one knows where the tusks are now. They sit, gaining value, just waiting for some lucky Goonies.

Dr. Geist with specimens

Before you all pull out your shovels and we have a full-on Sacharian Holes situation here, I should explain that students with the MAYmester documentary class have been hard at work treasure-hunting in the APR Archives. Using the Otto Geist papers, they’ve pored over his field notes, diaries, and reports looking for clues. They’ve even found a 1952 interview with Geist held by the Oral History Program. If anyone’s going to find those tusks, my money’s on them.

Do you have any campus legends you’d like to learn more about? Do you have any leads to other campus treasures? Tell the Archives about it! We love a good caper. Email us at

KUAC-FM archival recordings available online

More than 120 hours of archival recordings from KUAC-FM, the public radio station in Fairbanks, Alaska, are now available for listening online.

The KUAC-FM Audiotapes Collection consists of nearly 950 open-reel audiotapes containing original local KUAC-FM programs from the late 1970s through the 1990s. It is held at the Alaska and Polar Regions Collections and Archives at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Elmer E. Rasmuson Library.

Technicians at the Northeast Document Conservation Center digitized 126 hours of recordings with grant funding provided by the Council on Library and Information Resources. The digital recordings are now available for listening online through the UAF library catalog by visiting

Topics include Arctic policy, climate change, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, whaling, dog mushing, gardening and the arts. Programs contain interviews with Alaska Native leaders as well as Alaska authors, politicians and students.

You can also see a news release about this at

ADDITIONAL CONTACTS: Leslie McCartney, 907-474-7737,

It’s Archival Film Friday! Snowy travel in Alaska, 1950s

Watch Snowy travel in Alaska, 1950s on our YouTube Channel

Snowy travel in Alaska, 1950s Alaska artist and filmmaker Fred Machetanz and his wife, author Sara Machetanz, travel in their car along narrow, snowy roads from their log home to nearby Palmer, Alaska, during winter in the late 1950s.

This scene was filmed to demonstrate a typical Alaskan wintertime experience, so that it could be shown to audiences in the Lower 48.

The Machetanz films were some of the earliest films collected by the University of Alaska Fairbanks for preservation purposes. This film has recently been scanned in high definition by the Alaska Film Archives at UAF, and the original 16mm film print is being preserved in a specialized climate-controlled film vault housed inside the Rasmuson Library at UAF (Color/Silent/16mm film).

This sequence contains excerpts from AAF-1091 from the Machetanz collection held by the Alaska Film Archives, a unit of the Alaska and Polar Regions Collections & Archives Department in the Elmer E. Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The Alaska Film Archives is supported by Rasmuson Rare Books Endowment.

For more information please contact the Alaska Film Archives.

Have you checked out Project Jukebox lately?

Project Jukebox provides online access to audio and video recordings, transcripts, maps, historic photographs and films from across Alaska.


Project Jukebox

Showcasing Alaska Anniversaries

There are so many important anniversaries in Alaska this year that we had to reach into our collections to share some of what we have with you! So we’ve put together special displays on Level 2 in Rasmuson Library. They are packed with items from our historical collections – maps, photographs, ephemera, and much more! We are celebrating several important historical events:

  • UAF’s centennial
  • The 150 anniversary of Russia’s sale of Alaska to the United States
  • The 100th birthday of Denali National Park
  • The 75th anniversary of the Alaska Highway
  • The 75th anniversary of the Alaska-Siberia Route
  • The 50th anniversary of the Fairbanks flood

You can see (and borrow!) some of the university’s first library books. Inside the Paul H. McCarthy Research Room, two displays feature student handbooks from 1964 and 1984, and a selection of early University of Alaska catalogs.

First college books. This selection of UAF library books was reconstructed from an essay written by Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines Leslie Marchand, professor of English and French. The list of fifty-seven book appeared in Farthest-North Collegian in 1925. Courtesy of Alaska and Polar Regions Collections & Archives, Ulyana Korotkova.

Filming Denali: Denali National Park’s 100th Birthday. Courtesy of Alaska Film Archives, Angela Schmidt.

View of exhibit. Thanks to Kathy Arndt, Angela Schmidt, Charles Hilton, and Ulyana Korotkova for making it happen! Happy Birthday UAF!

Lael Morgan Collection

Lael Morgan was a UAF professor of journalism who wrote for major U.S. and Alaska newspapers and magazines, and who wrote books about Alaska, including the popular Good Time Girls of the Alaska-Yukon Gold Rush. The photos that appear in Alaska’s Digital Archives were part of “Miles and Miles,” an exhibit about African-American builders of ALCAN (Alaska Highway). She curated the 1992 exhibit for the University of Alaska Museum of the North.

This portion of the collection preserves unique photographic images that give a glimpse into the one-third of the U.S. Army ALCAN construction troops as they build, repair, and march along the highway in 1942-1943. Several photographs from the Lael Morgan Collection are a part of the Rasmuson Library 75th Anniversary of the Alaska Highway exhibit, which is on display on Level 2 of the library.

Alaska Highway, road construction, soldiers, Afro-Americans, World War II

Walter Mason’s A Company 97th building a pioneer bridge. Lael Morgan Collection, UAF-2012-71-351, Archives, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Ernest and Helen Watson Album

After graduating from the Evansville College in Indiana, Ernest and Helen Watson went to Alaska as teachers. From 1925 to 1926, they were stationed in St. Paul on the Pribilof Islands. Their goal was to earn money and continue their education. Ernest eventually became a pediatrician, and Helen received an advanced degree in library science.

During their stay in St. Paul, the couple took photos of wildlife, people, and activities in the area, as well as their trips to or from St. Paul.

Helen Watson, teachers, St. Paul

Helen Watson on board the Vega in Bering Sea, July 1925. Ernest and Helen Watson Album, UAF-1993-186-1, Archives, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

St. Paul, villages

Village of St. Paul, 1925-1926. Ernest and Helen Watson Album, UAF-2002-158-219, Archives, University of Alaska Fairbanks.


children, school children, St. Paul

Aleut children from the senior school on St. Paul Island, 1925. Ernest and Helen Watson Album, UAF-1993-186-2, Archives, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Alaska, Canada and Yellowstone Park Tour Album

In 1924, Leonidas Westervelt (1875-1952) toured Alaska, Canada and Yellowstone Park. Leonidas, who graduated from Columbia University in 1903, was a renowned collector of theatrical books and manuscripts and a playwright. Sweet Seventeen, a play that lists him as an author together with Harriet Ford, Harvey O’Higgins, and John Clements, was performed at the Lyceum Theatre in New York the same year that he took his tour. He had been on the staff of the Museum of the American Indian, and was a vice-president of the New York Historical Society. Alaska’s Digital Archives selection of photographs from Alaska, Canada and Yellowstone Park Tour Album highlights features of the tour – modes of transportation, buildings, and street scenes.

Leonidas Westervelt, Alaska, Canada and Yellowstone Park Tour Album

Juneau, July 21st. Main Street. Alaska, Canada and Yellowstone Park Tour Album, UAF-1968-30-18, Archives, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

White Horse, transportation

Primitive conveyance, White Horse. Alaska, Canada and Yellowstone Park Tour Album, UAF-1968-30-34, Archives, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Silver ores, barges

Silver ore on barge. Alaska, Canada and Yellowstone Park Tour Album, UAF-1968-30-70, Archives, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

William C. Douglass Photographs

William C. Douglass Photographs feature slides of Kennecott Mines – Bonanza, Jumbo, Mother Lode, and Erie. This collection belonged to William C. Douglass, who worked as the Kennecott Mine foreman and superintendent from 1916 to 1929. The richest copper mine in the world that was named as a result of a spelling error operated near the Kennicott Glacier from 1909 to 1938. The Guggenheims and J.P. Morgan (the Alaska Syndicate) that purchased Kennecott, invested $22 million for construction of Copper River and Northwestern Railway alone. Regardless the expenditure, the copper empire did so well that when it went public in 1915, its stock rose from a few dollars to seventy-five dollars a share.

Kennecott Mine

Mill and loaded cars. William C. Douglass Photographs, UAF-2006-86-18, Archives, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Jumbo tramway, Jim Dennis

Jim Dennis, Jumbo tramway. William C. Douglass Photographs, UAF-2006-86-6, Archives, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Copper River and Northwestern Railway

Snow, Copper River and Northwestern Railway. William C. Douglass Photographs, UAF-2006-86-38, Archives, University of Alaska Fairbanks.