Category Archives: Alaska’s Digital Archives

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)

With love and kisses: the Basil Clemons papers

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

This is my house party. (Basil Clemons papers, UAF-1994-71-3)

This is my house party. (Basil Clemons papers, UAF-1994-71-3)

This collection consists of a mixture of photos and postcards, 130 in all.  Images primarily depict mining, streetscapes, and festive gatherings near Ruby, Long, Iditarod, and Flat, Alaska. There are also scenes of Fort Liscum, Valdez, and Anchorage, Alaska, and some photos taken in Seattle, Washington.

On 47 of the postcards and photos, Basil Clemons wrote personal notes to his family members, many of them written with warm affection and lovingly signed, “with love and kisses.”

I have to confess that I developed a deep fondness for Basil during the indexing of this collection.  Okay, a crush. I have a full-blown Basil crush.  How could I not after spending so much time reading through his loving notes, studying his photos, and then describing all these images photographed through his eyes?

He seemed to quickly immerse himself in the Alaska scene when he arrived in 1909.  He writes of mushing all through the night; he talks politics and the effects of elections on the construction of the Alaska Railroad; he mentions the parties he has attended.  He joined the U.S Army, training at Fort Liscum, and captured scenes of military men and parades, and writes of “Old Glory” and defending freedom against autocracy.

I love a good party, so my favorite images are of the social and civic gatherings he photographed, and they are profuse. He had a lifetime membership to the Arctic Brotherhood, and photographed festive gatherings related to this organization and other fraternal organizations.  There are group portraits taken at the harem-themed party, a necktie-and-apron party, a ship social, and even a “smoker” banquet with men shown sitting around a table, eating and smoking cigars.

I savored my time working on this collection, and fondly referred to my blocks of indexing times as my “Basil dates.” I was impressed with the passion and sense of adventure I imagined he had to have, wandering up to Alaska in his early twenties, traveling around and photographing Alaska natives, ice cutting, dogsled racing — all new and exciting people, events and things that he never saw before, growing up in Ridgeway, Texas.

If I were to write a postcard to Basil, I would express my gratitude and appreciation for the photos he’s left behind, and I myself would sign off with his signature closing, “with love and kisses!”

Ship social in Pioneers' Hall, Anchorage, Alaska.  (Basil Clemons papers, UAF-1994-71-81)

Ship social in Pioneers’ Hall, Anchorage, Alaska. (Basil Clemons papers, UAF-1994-71-81)

So many trees, so much beauty: the A.C. Kuehl Photographs.

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

During the indexing of this collection, I was on inanimate overload.  Trees, mountains, rivers, roads, more trees, bridges.  What do we have here?  More and more trees.  Oh, look, another.  Give me a living creature, I lamented.  There are very few human life forms depicted in this collection consisting of an album of 60 photographs taken along roadways in Alaska and the Yukon in 1943 and 1944.

This said, looking through these scenic views along the Alaska, Richardson, and Glenn Highways, and views of the Mentasta Lake region, I also felt a profound appreciation and pride for this great state.  This is home to me, and isn’t it a beautiful one? — the mind-blowing mountains, the meandering rivers.

Many photos lured me in, and I was struck by how little of Alaska I’ve actually seen.  This is a place I want to explore!  Camping near the Chickaloon River, bike touring the Glenn Highway: plans I now have to see what I haven’t of this vast state.

Once I got past all the spruce trees, I saw all the beauty this state possesses through these images Alfred C. Kuehl has captured.  What a lovely reminder.

Chickaloon River - Glenn Highway, Alaska.  (A.C. Kuehl Photographs, UAF-2009-1-50)

Chickaloon River – Glenn Highway, Alaska. (A.C. Kuehl Photographs, UAF-2009-1-50)

Big Cities and Remote Locales: The Averill and June Thayer Photographs

Our indexer Emily has finished describing all the photos of the Averill and June Thayer Photographs, which we have put online in Alaska’s Digital Archives.  Here’s what she says:

What do you get when your job requires you to fly all over Alaska?  You get a broad view of post-war Alaska.  From the sand dunes of Kobuk Valley National Park, to the immeasurable lakes of the Kenai Peninsula, to the top of Mount Troy in Southeast Alaska, this collection has a little something for everyone.

Averill Thayer worked for the Fish and Wildlife Service in the 1950s.  This allowed him to fly to many isolated locations and towns across Alaska.  In these obscure places he would photograph caribou, moose, beavers, lakes, and glaciers.  In places with human inhabitants, the subjects changed to the village dwellings and their denizens.  In the major Alaskan cities, big events were photographed, giving us a look at downtown Anchorage during Fur Rondy and at Juneau on the 4th of July.

Many of these photographs were taken during winter or during break-up, showing that, even though time marches on, some things still stay the same.  Alaskans will always stop and take note of the ice going out on a river; they will always celebrate our pioneering heritage; and they will always climb mountains and fly across the wilderness searching for that last bit of unsullied beauty where Dall sheep roam free and the sun shines bright on our majestic state.

Big hike to top of Mt. Troy. (Averill and June Thayer Photographs, UAF-2010-25-395)

Big hike to top of Mt. Troy. (Averill and June Thayer Photographs, UAF-2010-25-395)

Check out new exhibits on level 2!

Please check out our new tourism in Alaska exhibits on level 2. Photograph reproductions and books from semi-rare on level 2 displays in Alaska Collection. Original brochures and rare books on display in the Research Room.photomay3 photomay2 photomay1Level 2 Alaska Collection exhibits available to the public when the library is open (click here for library hours). Archives research room exhibits available to the public from Monday-Friday, 10 am-5 pm.