Paul McCarthy became the first archivist of the University of Alaska in 1965, and founded the University Archives with the enthusiastic support of President Howard Cutler and Ted Ryberg, then University Librarian. He started with the small collection of papers and photographs from that trip down the Yukon, plus some boxes of papers and photographs from the university—and quickly developed a broader mission and collection policy. Paul and Mr. Ryberg scoured the state for historical documents and talked to everyone from families who wanted to share their photo albums to prominent Alaskan statesmen. He counted Ivar Skarland as one of his most ardent patrons and donors to the collections.
In the ensuing 29 years, as Paul’s role at the library changed, he continued to champion the archives. He was instrumental in acquiring major collections, including Ralph Rivers, the Alaska Commercial Company, and the late Senator Ernest Gruening, to name just a few.
Since retiring in 1994 (and during subsequent stints as acting director and dean), he has continued to provide advice and counsel to library archivists and the Dean of Libraries. He has continued his close relationship with the Rasmuson family and played a significant role in establishing the Rasmuson Rare Books Endowment, one of the largest in the University of Alaska. He is a tireless advocate of the archives with other prominent supporters.