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Alaska Historical Collections

Looking for digital collections? Visit online collections resource page

Photographs & Still Images

The collections are primarily composed of black and white images, such as the well-known Winter and Pond photographs. However, formats vary from color and lantern slides to stereo views, postcards, and illustrations from printed works. The subjects of the more than 130,000 images span every aspect of Alaskan geography, history, and culture. Approximately 8,000 black and white photographs are on microfiche, copies of which are deposited in libraries in Alaska and selected libraries in North America.

Information on requesting images

Manuscripts & Records

Manuscripts are comprised of personal papers such as private diaries and correspondence of teachers, missionaries, gold seekers, pioneers, Alaska Natives, politicians, military personnel and others. Business records of mining companies, store keepers, and canneries, such as the Alaska Packers Association, hold a wealth of information on Alaskan development. Although a few collections are restricted and may be viewed or photocopied only with the permission of the donor, most are readily available to researchers.

Books & Periodicals

The Alaska Historical Collections maintains a collection of over 50,000 publications, ranging from turn-of-the-century periodicals to early fiction and rare volumes on early explorations in Alaska and the Arctic. Clippings and brochure files include biographies and also items from Wickersham's Bibliography of Alaskan Literature. The Alaska Document Depository Statute, passed in 1975, reserves the first copy of any state publication for the Library.


The Library maintains microfilmed newspapers from approximately 119 Alaska communities, some dating from the purchase of Alaska from Russia. Newspaper microfilm may be viewed in the Information Services reading room or borrowed through interlibrary loan. In 1998, the Alaska State Library published Alaska Newspapers on Microfilm, 1866-1998, a resource authored by the Alaska Newspaper Project that lists newspapers by publication location.


The map collection consists of atlases, Alaska-related historical maps such as Sanborn maps, older nautical charts, and state election districts. Current U. S. Geological Survey topographical maps of Alaska are located in Information Services.


Small historic collections of sound recordings, videocassettes, and films, primarily related to the manuscript and photograph collections, are housed in the Library and are available by special arrangement.


The generosity of many donors has enriched and increased the research value of the collections and information available to library patrons. Each year thousands of researchers consult these collections. Some historic item donations are tax deductible. Please contact the Historical Collections if you are interested in making a contribution. The Historical Collections has occasionally purchased rare items with special appropriations by the Alaska State Legislature.

Page last updated 06/13/2019