About Alaska Newspapers on Microfilm

History of the Alaska Newspaper Project

The Alaska State Library is pleased to present this publication which represents Alaska's contribution to a national effort to locate, catalog, preserve and provide access to the nation's newspapers. It is the product primarily of the work of the Alaska Newspaper Project staff located at the Alaska State Library. Their work, however, was supported by many individuals and organizations that contributed information, resources, and time.

Funded primarily by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and with training and technical assistance from the Library of Congress, the Alaska Newspaper Project received additional support from the Elmer E. Rasmuson Library at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the Consortium Library at the University of Alaska Anchorage. An Advisory Committee composed of individuals from participating libraries reviewed goals and objectives and responded to unanticipated findings.

The United States Newspaper Program, a massive research project involving all 50 states and territories, dates back to 1972, when a poll of historians reported that access to newspapers was one of their highest research needs and that newspapers were among the most important sources for study of American culture. Underway since the early 1980s, the national program is expected to award its final grants in the year 2006. Alaska joined this effort in 1991 as the 42nd state to participate. Alaska began its project by conducting a survey of libraries, museums, publishers and other institutions to identify paper issues of newspapers that probably had never been filmed before.

Alaska's Project is somewhat unique (and very fortunate) in that many of our newspapers have already been preserved on microfilm. During an extensive newspaper microfilming project in the late 1960s and 1970s, libraries, museums, historical societies and publishers were very generous with their files for filming. At the beginning of the Project in 1991, Alaska had nearly 4,600 reels of newspapers on microfilm, produced by public and private sources. Much of the Project's time in the early years was spent inventorying issue-by-issue the hundreds of titles already available on microfilm. Only after detailed information about what issues were either missing from the microfilm or were unreadable, did the project mount its publicity campaign to look for the issues needed. The response has been generous and gratifying.

Much of the bibliographic work of the Project built on the foundation that had been laid by such landmark works as Wickersham's A Bibliography of Alaskan Literature, 1724-1924 (1927) and various other publications and compilations of information about Alaskan newspapers called Alaska newspaper trees. Compiled in 1975 by William R. Galbraith, the first Alaskan newspaper tree provided information that was utilized by Phyllis Davis in her published work, A Guide to Alaska's Newspapers (Alaska State Library Historical Monograph No. 4, 1976) and later by Patricia M. Sackinger who in 1980 produced a revised and computerized Alaska Newspaper Tree. Using the information from the 1980 Alaska Newspaper Tree, Marvin W. Falk converted the entries to a database which was continuously updated between 1981 and 1992. Print-outs of the most recent Alaskan Newspaper Tree, while not widely distributed, provided detailed information about holdings as well as publishing history.

The Alaska Newspaper Project attempted to bring all of this information together, with particular emphasis on verification of titles, title changes, publication dates, and suspensions. It was not possible, however, within the guidelines of the Project, to systematically identify individually all of the numerous editors and publishers who played a role in Alaskan newspaper publishing history. Those that are included in this publication are primarily from what names were listed in earlier publications and sources.

The bibliographic information about each title was entered into two national library databases, OCLC and WLN. Specific microfilm holdings information is listed in this guide and is now accessible through this Internet website.

During this project we were elated at the issues found, documented and preserved. We also realize that some of Alaska's vivid and interesting early history, as reflected in the pages of our daily and weekly newspapers, has probably been irretrievably lost. Thousands of issues are still missing, especially from around the turn of the century, and several titles, documented in other sources, have no known copies.

Alaska, through the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the Alaska State Library, has a cooperative microfilming program whereby all of Alaska's currently published newspapers, not filmed by a commercial vendor, are being preserved on microfilm. The Alaska State Library, working with the Central Microfilm Laboratory of the Alaska State Archives, is the repository for all master copies of this cooperative effort.

The microfilm are available for use by the public in many libraries throughout the state, although holdings will vary, and through interlibrary loan. Our goal is to see that this program continues to operate smoothly, preserving all of our currently published newspapers so there will be no need for another project like this one hundred years from now. As you can imagine, it's much easier to film and preserve a newspaper at the time it's being published rather than 50 or 75 years later.

Acknowledgements

This guide has been supported by many people who have given generously of their time, talent, and collections during the seven years of the Alaska Newspaper Project. Numerous individuals and organizations (libraries, museums, newspaper offices and historical societies) have contributed or loaned newspaper issues to the Project for filming. Without the generosity of these groups and individuals, the Alaska Newspaper Project could not have accomplished its goals. We thank them all. Please see a list of contributors and supporters in Appendix 4. A few who worked with the Project throughout the years deserve special recognition and thanks:

  • The Alaskana Advisory Committee of the Alaska Library Association-Diane Brenner, Anchorage Museum of History and Art; Marvin Falk, University of Alaska Fairbanks; Nancy Lesh, University of Alaska Anchorage; Bruce Merrell, Anchorage Municipal Libraries; and Gene West, University of Alaska Fairbanks-began the process in our meetings of the late 1980s. All members continued to support the project through the 1990s, with Nancy and Marvin serving on the Project Advisory Committee as well.
  • Ed Ferrell of Juneau, Alaskan author and intrepid researcher of newspapers on microfilm, who provided hundreds of critical references to newspaper titles' histories and discovered references to over 60 previously unknown newspaper titles, deserves special recognition. Without his finding many pieces, the newspaper jigsaw puzzle would be much less complete.
  • Candace Waugaman of Fairbanks generously offered many rare jewels from her extensive collection of historic newspapers, postcards, and photographs, adding to the wealth of materials that we present in this guide.
  • Evelyn Bonner, Director of the Stratton Library of Sheldon Jackson College, Sitka, facilitated the loan of nearly 2,000 issues of historical newspapers from every corner of the state. Susan Foster, and volunteer Junia Horn, offered valuable assistance.
  • R. N. (Bob) DeArmond, Alaska historian and long-time newsman, was a valued resource throughout the Project, generously contributing his historical perspective and knowledge.
  • Patricia Roppel, Alaska historian and author, a source of many unique issues and a resource for finding potential contributors of many other issues.
  • Howard Shorthill, Sr., who loaned 30 unique issues of two Dyea newspapers published in 1898 and originally from the Olympic News Stand his great grandfather managed in Dyea in that year. He also provided some wonderful photographs of early Skagway and Dyea.
  • Alex Bennett and family, whose father Wilson C. Bennett edited the Last Outpost, loaned 67 issues of one of the first US newspapers published in the Aleutian war zone during World War II to the Project for microfilming. This title was unknown until the family contacted the project.
  • At the Alaska State Library, special thanks and a standing ovation go to Project Coordinator Mary Nicolson and Project Assistant Mary Anne Slemmons for their outstanding work. It was their dedication, tenacity, and understanding of the importance of preserving Alaska's newspapers that kept the Project on track through what was at times a rocky road.
  • Thanks to the Alaska State Library personnel for their work on the project: Marilyn Kwock, Artemis BonaDea, Sondra Stanway, Darren Spence, Mark Lewis, Gary Martin, Karen Boddy, Rose Welton, and all those in the Historical Collections: India Spartz, Gladi Kulp, Connie Hamann and especially Debbie Finley who assisted in the repair of fragile issues for microfilming. Thanks also to Stan Hubbard, Larry Grant, and Jerry Duncan of the Alaska State Archives' Central Microfilm Services Laboratory for their careful microfilming of sometimes very fragile and hard to read materials. Special thanks to their supervisor, Pat O'Brien, who also served as advisor for the preservation microfilming phase of the project and organized the master microfilm.
  • At the University of Alaska Anchorage and University of Alaska Fairbanks, many contributed to this project. Thanks to student assistants of both institutions who inventoried many reels of microfilm. Thanks also to those at UAF: Jeff Pederson offered computer expertise as he developed the database and did early work on the web site; Marvin Washington located and filmed issues, and Dixon J. Jones designed the print and web versions of the guide. Special appreciation to Susan Grigg, head of the Alaska and Polar Regions Department, who offered needed support to this publication.
  • For their many years of advice and encouragement, we all thank Robert Harriman, USNP Coordinator, Library of Congress, and Jeffrey Field, Deputy Director, Division of Preservation and Access, National Endowment for the Humanities.
  • Any project of this size can only be as good as the institutional support it receives. Karen R. Crane, Alaska State Librarian and Director of Libraries, Archives, and Museums, deserves special recognition for her continued interest and encouragement and for finding extra funds, that enabled the Project to finish successfully.

Kay Shelton
Project Director
Alaska Historical Collections
Alaska State Library

Contributors

Institutions and Organizations

  • A. Holmes Johnson Memorial Library of Kodiak
  • Alaska Newspapers Inc., of Anchorage
  • Alaska State Archives
  • Alaska State Library
  • Alaska State Museum
  • Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository of Kodiak
  • Anchorage Municipal Libraries
  • Anchorage Museum of History and Art
  • Baranov http://www.museums.alaska.gov/Kodiak Historical Society of Kodiak
  • Bristol Bay Historical Society Museum
  • Dillingham Public Library
  • Elmer E. Rasmuson Library at the University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Fairbanks Community Museum
  • Heritage Library and Museum at the National Bank of Alaska
  • Irene Ingle Public Library of Wrangell
  • Juneau Douglas City Museum
  • Kenai Community Library
  • Kodiak College Library
  • Learning Resource Center, NW Campus (Nome), University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Library of Congress
  • Pelican Public Library
  • Petersburg Public Library
  • Sheldon Museum and Cultural Center of Haines
  • Stratton Library at Sheldon Jackson College
  • Sutton Public Library
  • Tongass Historical Museum of Ketchikan
  • Trail of '98 City Museum of Skagway
  • Unalaska City School Library
  • University of Alaska Anchorage Consortium Library
  • University of Oregon Library
  • Valdez Museum and Historical Archive
  • Wasilla Public Library
  • West Valley High School Library of Fairbanks

Private Contributors and Supporters

  • Patricia Roppel, Wrangell
  • Candace Waugaman, Fairbanks
  • Alex Bennett and Family, Salt Lake City, UT & Walnut Creek, CA
  • Mabel Burford, Juneau
  • James Busey, Manitou Springs, CO
  • Elayne Bowen, Bellingham, WA
  • George Bertrand, Woodburn, OR
  • Tim Troll, Dillingham
  • Robert and Ruthella Caldwell, Flagstaff, AZ
  • Kaye Dethridge, Sitka
  • Paul Erlam, Vancouver, BC
  • Bruce Haldeman, Fairbanks
  • Lone Janson, Anchorage
  • Mark Hutson, Ketchikan
  • Robert Knox, Laramie, WY
  • Larry Kritchen, Cordova
  • Tom Paul, Juneau
  • John Greely, Juneau
  • Donald Poling, Haines
  • Margaret Rea, Red Bluff, CA
  • Bill Rice, Youngstown, OH
  • Norman Riggs, Los Angeles CA
  • Raynold Savela, Fairbanks
  • Vickie Wisenbaugh, Tenakee Springs
  • Lillian Seapy, formerly of Juneau
  • Larry Persily, Juneau
  • Wanda Wheeler, Anchorage
  • Cushla Thompson, Kotzebue
  • Dixie Figgins Beall, Barrow
  • Marlys Tedin, Sitka
  • Lew Williams, Jr., Ketchikan
  • John Cook, Fairbanks
  • Stephen Arthur, Fairbanks
  • Marguerite LaFray, Ketchikan
  • Howard Shorthill, Orangeville, UT
  • Ed and Nancy Ferrell, Juneau
  • R.N. DeArmond, Sitka
  • Margaret Bauman, Anchorage
  • John Dolenc, Anchorage
  • George Hall, Anchorage
  • Pat and Harold Newcomb, Wasilla
  • George Backman, Anchorage
  • Jim Fox, Wasilla
  • Phyllice Bradner, Juneau
  • Dawn Rehbock, Anchorage, and the estate of Clarence E. "Chick" LeDoux
  • Elizabeth Dennis, Craig
  • Pat O'Brien, Juneau
  • Robin Dodson, Fairbanks
  • Michael and Carolyn Nore, Anacortes, WA
  • Richard Foster, Nome
  • Kay Hansen, Nome
  • Barbara Gorman, Fairbanks
  • Leonard Bobincheck, Sewickley, PA
  • Edith Carter, Juneau
  • John W. and Caryl Sale Krug, CA
  • James Ducker, Anchorage


Page last updated 11/28/2014

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