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News & Events: Interview with Alaska Historian David Reamer about the film The Girl Alaska

Interview with Alaska Historian David Reamer about the film The Girl Alaska

Alaska historian David Reamer talks with film archivist Angela Schmidt of the UAF Alaska Film Archives about the 1919 film "The Girl Alaska," one of the earliest dramatic films ever shot in Alaska. They briefly discuss the book "Black Lives in Alaska: A History of African Americans in the Far Northwest" which Reamer co-authored with Ian C. Hartman in 2022, and for which the two authors were awarded the James H. Ducker Historian of the Year Award by the Alaska Historical Society in 2023. This interview was recorded in March, 2024.

"The Girl Alaska" is a silent film about a young person named Alaska who goes on a quest to find their gold-seeking father in the Far North. The film was directed by Al Ira Smith, and the cast includes Lottie Kruse, Henry Bolton, and C. Edward Cone.

According to Reamer's research, the film was shot at several different locations in Alaska in 1917, including Ketchikan, onboard the steamship "Alaska" between Ketchikan and Juneau, Juneau, Skagway, the Cordova area (Childs Glacier/Miles Glacier/Copper River), and Anchorage. Other scenes were filmed in Pasadena, California and Seattle, Washington. A link to the full film is included at the end of this interview. 

A 16mm print and a digital scan of "The Girl Alaska" were obtained from the Library of Congress by the Alaska Film Archives, which has made the film available for viewing online. The Alaska Film Archives is a unit of the Alaska and Polar Regions Collections & Archives Department in the Elmer E. Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

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