Category Archives: Alaska’s Digital Archives

Thanks be to Elmer: the Elmer E. Rasmuson Papers

Our indexer Dee has finished describing 36 items — including photographs, letters, and other physical artifacts — of the Elmer E. Rasmuson Papers, which we have put online in Alaska’s Digital Archives.  Here’s what she has to say:

I’ve worked at the Rasmuson Library for 11 years now, and, for my first few years here, I passed by this portrait of Elmer E. Rasmuson hanging up at the south entrance of the library, mistakenly thinking it was our dean at the time.  To my new employee eyes, they looked remarkably the same!

Official photograph of Elmer Rasmuson used in advertising for his 1968 U.S. Senate campaign.  (Elmer E. Rasmuson Papers, UAF-2001-128-19)

Official photograph of Elmer Rasmuson used in advertising for his 1968 U.S. Senate campaign. (Elmer E. Rasmuson Papers, UAF-2001-128-19)

When I discovered that this was actually the eponym of the library, I have to say, I was unimpressed.  Because, to me, it looked like a thousand other portraits of philanthropists and politicians.  I felt a bit of gratitude and respect for the man, but not much past that.

But indexing this collection of photos was a pleasure — a true honor, to be honest.

This philanthropist and politician…  Well, he was very very engaged, very instrumental to Alaska’s development, and very philanthropic.  It’s no wonder he has a library named after him!

I strongly encourage you all to read the gems of information about him and his family that can be found here: http://library.uaf.edu/rasmusonbio/.  This collection was curated by our very own Lisa Morris who works in the Alaska and Polar Regions Collection & Archives at the Rasmuson Library.

I will now pass by Elmer’s portrait, and I will honor him.  I nod to you, Elmer, with much appreciation, with all due respect.

An Epic Expedition: Norman H. Read Mount Logan Papers

Our indexer Dee has finished describing 14 photos of the Norman H. Read Mount Logan Papers, which we have put online in Alaska’s Digital Archives.  Here’s what she has to say:

This collection consists of a mere 14 photos depicting a team of mountaineers described as a “hodgepodge of Brits, Americans, Canadians, privileged alpinists, World War I veterans, and inveterate Sourdoughs” who were the very first to ascend Mt. Logan, Canada’s highest peak, and the largest base circumference of any non-volcanic mountain on earth.  Sure, it’s shorter than Denali, but “because of its remoteness (St. Elias Range of Northwestern Canada in the Yukon Territory) and fierce storms, Logan has seen fewer climbers in its entire human history than one year’s traffic on Denali.”*

Six men pulling two sleds loaded with gear.  (UAF-1992-174-1092, Norman H. Read Mount Logan papers.)

Six men pulling two sleds loaded with gear. (UAF-1992-174-1092, Norman H. Read Mount Logan papers.)

The team of six, led by the Canadian Alpine Club-appointed Albert MacCarthy, walked 70 miles up the Chitina River, dragging sleds of gear and supplies until they arrived at the glacial trough, the King Trench, on the west side of the mountain.  This final climb took the team more than two weeks to cross the tough terrain and reach the summit, arriving on June 23, 1925 at 8pm.

Along the way, they dealt with fiercely cold weather, storms, blizzards, and avalanches that resulted in frostbite, delays, and exhaustion.  They climbed in grueling conditions at altitudes of over 18,000 feet.

This climb has been described as the “most extraordinary epic of hardship and endurance in the annals of North American mountaineering.”** And we’ve got photos of this epic journey in our very own collection.  Maybe you should all stop by Rasmuson Library and see these photos for yourself!

Team of mountaineers geared up with backpacks and expedition poles.  (UAF-1992-174-1080, Norman H. Read Mount Logan papers.)

Team of mountaineers geared up with backpacks and expedition poles. (UAF-1992-174-1080, Norman H. Read Mount Logan papers.)

*Waterman, Jon. Great mountains of the world: Mt. Logan | adventure journal.  http://www.adventure-journal.com/2012/07/great-mountains-of-the-world-mt-logan-2/
**Highpoints of Canada: Mount Logan.  http://www.highpointsofcanada.com/mount-logan.html

Mostly Mining: Hanot Family Papers

Our indexer Dee has finished describing the photos of the Hanot Family Papers, which we have put online in Alaska’s Digital Archives.  Here’s what she has to say:

With all due respect to the Hanot family, I thought it was my true misfortune to have been assigned the unfortunate task of indexing this collection.  After a quick perusal of the collection, I saw mostly pails, pulleys, sluices, and gold scales.  Four gold scales to be exact.  In short, lots and lots of photos of mining doodads, thingamajigs, and doohickeys. Fairbanks.  (UAF-2007-212-30, Hanot Family Papers)

Fairbanks. UAF-2007-212-30, Hanot Family Papers.

Turns out though, that I’m not so unfortunate after all, in that the collection took a turn to the mildly interesting with this photo of a man (with an outrageously large moustache) and woman canoeing a flooded street in Fairbanks.

Damaged Dominion Commercial Company building.  (UAF-1997-212-41, Hanot Family Papers)

Damaged Dominion Commercial Company building. (UAF-1997-212-41, Hanot Family Papers)

For a less recreational view of the flood that hit the Interior during this time period (possibly May 1911), look at the damage that occurred to local businesses such as the Dominion Commercial Company.  The impact it had on Fairbanks must have been devastating.

MVP (Most Valuable Photo) goes to the one of the skull graffiti commemorating George Buchanan, a Detroit coal merchant who began bringing boys and girls to Alaska on adventure trips in 1923, continuing these excursions for approximately 50 kids every summer for 15 years.  His goal was to help young people learn the art of earning and saving money.  To accompany Buchanan on these special excursions, a young person had to earn one third of the cost of the journey.  The parents could pay one third and Buchanan contributed one third.  If necessary he assisted the would-be adventurer to earn his share of the costs.  (https://www.wpyr.com/history/facts.html)

On to Alaska with Buchanan -1928.  (UAF-1997-212-50, Hanot Family Papers)

On to Alaska with Buchanan -1928. (UAF-1997-212-50, Hanot Family Papers)

So among the mining doodads, I uncovered a moustached man paddling a flooded street and a skull drawn on a mountain to celebrate a generous, adventurous man.  I sluiced out some gems among the dirt!

A Nurse and a Tourist: the Grace O’Keefe Photograph Collection

Our indexer Dee has finished describing the photos of the Grace O’Keefe Photograph Collection, which we have put online in Alaska’s Digital Archives.  Here’s what she has to say:

I am woman, hear me roar.

Twelve Navy nurses.  (UAF-1994-23-3, Grace O'Keefe Photograph Collection)

Twelve Navy nurses. (UAF-1994-23-3, Grace O’Keefe Photograph Collection)

Girl power, all the way.  I suppose this is a big reason I enjoyed indexing this collection, as I got a chance to hang out with Grace O’Keefe as a Navy nurse during her stint here in 1945, and again, in 1958, when she returned as a tourist.

As a nurse stationed in Adak during World War II, Grace took many pictures of the naval base and the land around it.  My favorite shows waves splashing up onto the rocky shore, mountains peeking out across the water.

Adak shore.  (UAF-1994-23-41, Grace O'Keefe Photograph Collection)

Adak shore. (UAF-1994-23-41, Grace O’Keefe Photograph Collection)

Grace also shares photos of the wildflowers and wildlife she saw while stationed here.  Many other pictures taken during this time period are of social scenes, parties, and Adak outings where she’s seen smiling broadly in group shots with some of her Navy cronies.  She appeared to enjoy herself while here, exploring the city and engaging in social gatherings.

View of Adak harbor.  (UAF-1994-23-42, Grace O'Keefe Photograph Collection)

View of Adak harbor. (UAF-1994-23-42, Grace O’Keefe Photograph Collection)

Her first trip to Alaska as a nurse was an assignment she had to fulfill, a job duty. Even so, she did not just work, she played; she appeared to appreciate her surroundings and partake of them.  Years later, she chose to return and, this time, saw a lot more of the state from Kotzebue and Nome, to Fairbanks and Nenana, down to Juneau and the Inside Passage.

I am woman, hear me roar.  Grace roared; she took the time out of her life to see things, activities, land, and people different than her own.  The unusual, the uncommon: dog sledding, panning for gold, attending a festival that included the Eskimo blanket toss.  She witnessed subsistence first-hand with Alaska Natives whaling and drying fish at a fish camp.  She saw all these things and she roared with great life and appreciation for them.

Old Yukon River boat graveyard.  (UAF-1994-23-85, Grace O'Keefe Photograph Collection)

Old Yukon River boat graveyard. (UAF-1994-23-85, Grace O’Keefe Photograph Collection)

Flotsam and Flannel, This and That: Doris Stephan Photograph Collection

Our indexer Dee has finished describing the photos of the Doris Stephan Photograph Collection, which we have put online in Alaska’s Digital Archives.  Here’s what she says:

Look over the finding aid for this collection and you’ll read that there are “105 photographs of street scenes, buildings, dog teams, bridges, animals, landscapes, aircraft, people, and aerial views. Views include construction, the sternwheeler ‘Aksala’, Camp Aehnder, and quonset huts.”

“Howard L. and me, just fooling.” (UAF-1993-253-13, Doris Stephan Photo Collection.)

It fails to mention, however, about the plaid flannel. You’ll find this checkered pattern throughout on the frames of Howard Ryan.  Not that this is a bad thing, but I was hoping for a change of wardrobe, perhaps a down parka?  Maybe a trench coat or a bomber jacket.  Something, anything with a hood!  This is the Arctic, after all.

What Howard lacked in fashion sense, he made up with his sense of humor.  Here he’s seen clowning around with his friend.  Please notice what he’s wearing.

I found UAF-1993-253-110 to be the most intriguing photo in the collection.  What happened to cause all this destruction? It appears to be an airplane accident, but no details were written on the photo.

“Flotsam.” (UAF-1993-253-110, Doris Stephan Photo Collection.)

In closing, this was a mixture of many different images: a hodgepodge of a little bit of this (plaid flannel) and a little bit of that (particularly dog teams, dirt roads, and water scenes).

New online: Fannie Quigley Collection

Our indexer Emily has finished describing all the photos of the Fannie Quigley Collection, which we have put online in Alaska’s Digital Archives.  Here’s what she says:

Fannie Quigley.  (Fannie Quigley Papers, UAF-1980-46-215)

Fannie Quigley. (Fannie Quigley Papers, UAF-1980-46-215)

Until I worked on this collection, I had never heard of Fannie Quigley.  Little did I know I was missing out on an amazing story.  She arrived in Alaska in 1906, during a time when women rarely set out on their own.  She survived for in Alaska for over 30 years, living off the land and braving harsh winters in the vast wilderness near Kantishna.  She and her husband, Joe Quigley, built a home for themselves, complete with many small cabins and a large garden.  Photographs of their lives were captured by her husband Joe Quigley.  They show happiness, camaraderie, and friendship.  Fannie Quigley was truly a woman ahead of her time.

This collection consists of 311 photographs, 81 nitrate negatives, and some printed materials.  Many of the photographs are scenes from the Quigley mining operations at Kantishna, while others depict scenes from Fairbanks, Mt. McKinley, Southeast Alaska, and Joplin, Missouri, plus individuals such as Lillian and Joe Crosson.

For further information, read Jane Haigh’s definitive biography, Searching for Fannie Quigley: A Wilderness Life in the Shadow of Mount McKinley.

Mr. Edmonds, Fannie Quigley.  (Fannie Quigley Collection, UAF-1980-46-242)

Mr. Edmonds, Fannie Quigley. (Fannie Quigley Collection, UAF-1980-46-242)

Traveling by Train, a Virtual Trip through the Last Frontier: Angier Family Papers

Our indexer Dee has finished describing all the photos of the Angier Family Papers, which we have put online in Alaska’s Digital Archives.  Here’s what she says:

The Angier Family Papers consist of photographs given to Walter Angier from the Alaska Engineering Commission. During his time in Alaska, Angier was involved with the construction of a bridge for the Alaska Railroad over the Tanana River in Nenana, Alaska.

Tanana River Bridge, cementing abutment. (Angier Family Papers, UAF-1969-89-114)

Tanana River Bridge, cementing abutment. (Angier Family Papers, UAF-1969-89-114)

According to his obituary published by the American Society of Civil Engineers, “bridge work was his particular desire” and “he was engaged in the design and erection of several important bridges, his specialty being in connection with difficult foundation work and heavy masonry.”

We have a chance to travel (albeit virtually) all around the Territory of Alaska in the year 1922 by viewing the photographs in this collection.

In addition to the many photos of railroad and bridge construction, we also get to see the Alaska that Angier and his cronies saw while building the Railroad. There are images taken in Fairbanks, Nenana, Anchorage, Girdwood, Seward, Ketchikan, Juneau, Cordova, and Wrangell. Hanging around with the A.E.C. crew, we also get to see the Inside Passage, Resurrection Bay, and the Tanana and Nenana Rivers.

Sit back and enjoy the scenery. Chugga-chugga, chugga-chugga, CHOOO CHOOOO — and away we go!

Train ready to leave Nenana for S.  (Angier Family Papers, UAF-1969-89-50)

Train ready to leave Nenana for S. (Angier Family Papers, UAF-1969-89-50)

Frederick C. Mears Collection: Alaskan Engineering Commission Photos

Our indexer Ulyana has finished describing all the photos of the Frederick C. Mears Papers, which we have put online in Alaska’s Digital Archives.  Here’s what she says:

The Frederick C. Mears papers include over 500 photographs, with images centered on Alaskan Engineering Commission surveys and construction of the Government Railroad (or Alaska Railroad).  The National Geographic Magazine described Lieutenant Mears as “one of the young veterans of the Isthmian Canal construction.  As superintendent of the Panama Railroad, he relocated and reconstructed a large part of that line and operated it successfully” (“Alaska’s New Railway”, December 1915). The Alaskan Engineering Commission was authorized to proceed with the survey in 1914, and the route was selected by President Wilson in 1915.

The railroad construction in Alaska opened up its resources and provided a transportation venue through the land that was not easily accessible.  The railroad acted as the means of advancing through the Last Frontier, with the visions of economic development, settlement, and agricultural advancement proposed as an agent of change.  The early construction photographs that belong to Frederick C. Mears papers give a glimpse of the impassible terrain and the difficult task ahead.

12 horses moving engine to Riley Creek on hill over tunnel No. 1. (Frederick C. Mears Papers, UAF-1984-75-35)

12 horses moving engine to Riley Creek on hill over tunnel No. 1. (Frederick C. Mears Papers, UAF-1984-75-35)

Nozzling and Shoaling in the Seventymile River Region: the Abraham and Lula Meinzer Photograph Collection

Our indexer Dee has finished describing all the photos of the Abraham and Lula Meinzer Photograph Collection, which we have put online in Alaska’s Digital Archives.  Here’s what she says:

Abraham H. Meinzer (b. 1872) came to Alaska from Sandusky, Ohio, in the spring of 1898 to try his hand at mining.  We get to see nozzling, shoaling, and other hydraulic mining activities throughout in this collection of 46 photographs and real-photo postcards.  Also depicted are animals, cabins, dog teams, and people.

Men and dogs.  (Abraham and Lula Meinzer Photograph Collection, UAF-1995-260-43)

Men and dogs. (Abraham and Lula Meinzer Photograph Collection, UAF-1995-260-43)

I found it unfortunate that Abe is the only person identified in this collection.  We see him all dressed up in a short necktie and high-waisted pants, the fashion of that time.  But I want to know who the man with the bushy moustache is straddling the dall sheep!  And who’s that grinning woman donned in all black, standing outside a cabin in Eagle, Alaska — Lula, could this be you?  Abe lived in Eagle through at least 1914 and married Lula J. Meyers (1876-1968) sometime between 1910 and 1920, but we really don’t get to know them through these images.

What we do see is an important part of Alaska’s history of mining.  Hydraulic mining photos depicting nozzling, shoaling, sluicing, and more await you in this photograph collection.

Nozzling into elevator.  (Abraham and Lula Meinzer Photograph Collection, UAF-1995-260-2)

Nozzling into elevator. (Abraham and Lula Meinzer Photograph Collection, UAF-1995-260-2)

Russian Prince Sells Buildings to Alaska: Alaska Commercial Company Records, the Unalaska Station Legal Papers

Our indexer Dee has finished describing all the photos of the Alaska Commercial Company Records, which we have put online in Alaska’s Digital Archives.  Here’s what she says:

Here we have a collection of seven building sale deeds.  Prince Dimitrii P. Maksutove, representative of the Russian American Company and late governor of the Russian colonies in America, signs and seals building deeds to the individual members of Hutchinson, Kohl and Company.  Alexei Pestchouroff, the commissioner representing the Russian government, conditionally approves the buildings but not the underlying land.

Included in this collection is a list of the seven deeded buildings noting the former function of each structure, with each deed describing the construction material and the approximate dimensions of the buildings.

The company members listed in the deeds are H. M. Hutchinson [Hayward Malcom Hutchinson] of Sitka; William Kohl of Victoria; Leopold Boscowitz of San Francisco; Lewis Sloss [Louis Sloss] of San Francisco; L. Girstle [Lewis Gerstle] of San Francisco; A. Wasserman [August Wassermann] of San Francisco; and John T. Hanson [Johan Hansen] of Sitka.

Hutchinson, Kohl and Company, which became the Alaska Commercial Company, played a remarkable part in the history of Alaska.  For a time, it was known as the Northern Commercial Company; it has been a major retailer for rural Alaska.

List of seven buildings sold to Hutchinson, Kohl and Company by Prince Dmitrii P. Maksutov.  (Alaska Commercial Company Records, UAF-1971-8-1)

List of seven buildings sold to Hutchinson, Kohl and Company by Prince Dmitrii P. Maksutov. (Alaska Commercial Company Records, UAF-1971-8-1)