James Edwin Morrow Photographs

Old Russian Church at Kenai, Alaska

Old Russian Church at Kenai, Alaska

Our indexer Lisa has finished describing the James Edwin Morrow Photographs which we have put online in Alaska’s Digital Archives. Here’s what she has to say:

If you have a penchant for landscape photography in Alaska, then you’ll want to take look at the James Edwin Morrow photograph collection. James Edwin Morrow (1918-2002) was a professor of zoology at the University of Alaska for seventeen years—from the 1960’s through the early 1970’s. He was author of some pieces on the fish and fisheries of Alaska, including “Illustrated Keys to the Fresh-water Fishes of Alaska.” His photograph collection, which holds 121 color slides and transparencies, has many landscape photos of a variety of locations around the state. James was the photographer of these various photos, depicting everything from aerial views of smoke from forest fires to men panning for gold in the Little Minook. Automobile enthusiasts might appreciate the old Ford pickup seen in UAF-1977-59-16 and UAF-1977-59-17. Aeronautical folks may appreciate UAF-1977-59-41, which shows a partial tail number creating a mystery as to which plane it may have been. From a road carved through a glacier on McKinley Highway to the old trading post in Rampart Village, you’ll find photos taken in Chicken, Kachemak Bay, Homer, Kenai, Seldovia, and more, all from the early to mid-1960’s. There’s also a group of pictures taken in 1971 on the North Slope. A few of my favorites images from this collection are highlighted here in this blog.  Enjoy!

Sunset at Iniakuk Lake

Sunset at Iniakuk Lake

Panning at Little Minook

Panning at Little Minook

Research room closed for lunch

We are very sorry for the inconvenience but the research room will be closed from 12 pm to 2 pm on Wednesday, November 26.


Research room closed today

We are very sorry for the inconvenience but the research room is closed Thursday, November 20.

Pioneer Voices Presented by Leslie McCartney- Nov. 13th 7:00pm

Join Curator Leslie McCartney as she shares memorable audio clips from the Pioneers of Alaska Igloo No. 4 collection. The recordings, made by members of the Pioneers of Alaska, record the histories of hundreds of pioneers, from miners to homesteaders and captains of industry. The collection ranges from early gold camp days to the 1967 flood.

  • When: Thursday, Nov. 13 @ 7:00pm
  • Where: Research Room, Level 2, Rasmuson Library

For more information, contact Leslie McCartney, 907-474-7737 or lmccartney@alaska.edu

Railroad Man Promotes Flying in Fairbanks – the James S. and Hannah Rodebaugh papers

Our indexer Dee has finished describing the James S. and Hannah Rodebaugh papers, which we have put online in Alaska’s Digital Archives. Here’s what she has to say:Hannah_and_Jimmie

 James S. “Jimmy” “Jimmie” Rodebaugh, born ca. 1887 in Ohio, brought his wife Johanna “Hannah” Rodebaugh to Alaska where he worked as a conductor for the Alaska Railroad. Seeing the potential of commercial aviation in Alaska, he quit his railroad gig, and in the spring of 1924, made a trip to the Lower 48 in search of planes and pilots. In St. Paul, Minnesota, he found two World War I planes, Hisso (Hispano-Suizas) Standard J1 biplanes for $5000. He also hired two young pilots, Noel Wien and Arthur Sampson, farm boys with very little experience, but willing to to move to Alaska and work for $300 a month.

Plane_owned_by_James_RodebaughThe Alaska Aerial Transportation Company was born. Two years later, Jimmy left this company, and formed the Bennett-Rodebaugh Company with pilot, Almer A. Bennett. Due to a business disagreement, Jimmy sold his portion of the company to Ed Young. In 1929, this company was taken over by Alaskan Airways.

The most compelling part of this collection is the letter Hannah Rodebaugh wrote on April 10, 1961.  She states that Jimmy formed the first commercial flying service in Fairbanks for humanity. That during his time on the railroad, he had seen so many frozen or injured people brought to the trains from remote areas in serious need of medical care. Jimmy saw an opportunity here to offer flying services to those who needed access to quicker travel, particularly those with medical needs.

Hannah describes her husband as a natural born gambler, taking a chance with their lifelong savings to start a flying service. Eventually, he even learned to fly himself, taking lessons from a Mr. Ryan in San Diego, California.

Jimmy was in the flying business a mere five years, enduring setbacks such as Noel Wien refusing to fly planes in the winter; piloting a plane himself that crashed (no fatalities, but passenger suffered broken arm); and a few business disagreements, one of which caused him to quit this industry for good.

Rose on the radio!

Assistant archivist for reference, Rose Speranza, was interviewed by Anjuli Grantham, curator of collections at the Baranov Museum/Kodiak Historical Society. She spoke about the Nichols Family Collection, a collection we have in the archives, which has some photographs of Filipino workers in the canning industry.

The episode aired 2 weeks ago and is now available for listening at KMXT’s webpage. You can listen via streaming audio or download it by following this link: http://www.kmxt.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogsection&id=6&Itemid=68 and clicking on “Way back in Kodiak: Filipinos in Larsen Bay 1915.”

“Would-Be Heirs to a Fur Empire” talk tonight at 6 pm!


Katherine Arndt, Rasmuson Library Alaska and Polar Regions Bibliographer, will explore the research potential of one of the largest collections of business records in the Alaska and Polar Regions Collections & Archives. Spanning the years 1868–1913, the Alaska Commercial Company Records document one company’s efforts to remain profitable in an economy that was shifting its focus from furs to fish and gold.

  • Tuesday, October 28, 2014 6 p.m.,
  • Research Room, Level Two Rasmuson Library
  • Free and open to the public

A Vertigo Inducing Collection – the H. C. Barley photographs

Our indexer Dee has finished describing the H.C. Barley photographs, which we have put online in Alaska’s Digital Archives. Here’s what she has to say:

Looking south from the tunnel.

Looking south from the tunnel.

Dear reader, what plans do you have after reading this blog post? I invite you stop what you’re doing (after reading this post), put on your shoes, preferably of the sneaker sort, and run, no, sprint over to the APR Research Room and look at this collection yourself. Do I have your attention? Good. Please take heed.

The online stuff just doesn’t cut it. You’ve got to hold these photos in your own white-gloved hands (not so fashionable, but compulsory), and see them with your own eyeballs to truly appreciate this collection. Stunning. Dimensional, almost three dimensional. The photos pop out at you. True story – while examining some of these photos, I experienced vertigo. The winding rails, the steep cliffs and the high mountains had me holding onto the table and swaying back and forth. The white gloves came in extra handy as I used them to wipe my damp brow.

Okay, not really. But they did make me dizzy and spellbound. Honestly, I have to say these photos made me gasp with glee. They’re breathtaking in an Oooh Ah sort of way.

Photo credit goes to H.C. Barley (also known as Harrie C. and Harry C.) who was hired as the company photographer for the White Pass and Yukon Route railroad in the spring of 1898. He worked for two years documenting the construction and early operation of the 110-mile narrow gauge railway which ran from Skagway, Alaska, to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.

Barley was known for his daring, often risking his life to get the perfect photograph of the construction of the railway. Many of the photos show this. I wondered how he could have possibly positioned himself to capture the angle and the proximity of the subject manner? He compromised his safety and was injured at least once for the sake of the shot.

Dear reader, what are you waiting for? Go! These photos await you.

Trestle over Glacier Gorge at the tunnel.

Trestle over Glacier Gorge at the tunnel.

Film Archives table at the Wood Center!

Film Archivist, Angela Schmidt, doing outreach during Archives Month at the Wood Center. She’s there for 1 more hour today!

Alaska Historical Society/Museums Alaska Conference

Today is the beginning of the Alaska Historical Society/Museums Alaska Annual Meeting held in Seward, Alaska, this year.

Many of the faculty & staff of the Alaska & Polar Regions Collections & Archives are slated to attend & present, as they do almost every year.

To name a few, from Oral History & Project Jukebox, Leslie McCartney, Karen McCartney and Bill Schneider have presentations (or two in the case of Leslie McCartney!) From archives we have Charles  Hilton, Ulyana Korotkova and Rachel Seale all giving different presentations. Ulyana Korotkova was a recipient of a travel award from AHS for this year’s conference.

Plenty of UAF faculty & students also present, this is a fun and informative conference! I’m including the program schedule & conference abstracts, but if you’re attending, please drop in on one of our sessions! 

Conference Schedule

Alaska Historical Society’s Conference Abstracts

Museums Alaska Conference Abstracts