Introduction to Modern Times: A Constitutional Lawyer’s Discovery- August 27

Introduction to Modern Times: A Constitutional Lawyer’s Discovery
Monday, Aug. 27, 2018
5 p.m. Reception | 5:30 p.m. Presentation
UAA/APU Consortium Library, Room 307

Join legal scholar Robert Gasaway for a presentation focused on how modern thought can help improve our understanding of current events and constitutional controversies, including prominent decisions of the United States Supreme Court. A discussion will follow led by Noble laureate Vernon Smith.

Presented by the UAA College of Business and Public Policy’s Department of Economics. Free and open to the public. Event parking is available on the top floor of the Central Parking Garage, located on Alumni Drive between the Social Sciences Building and the Natural Science Building.

About the speakers:

Dr. Vernon L. Smith was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2002. His work expanded our knowledge of economic behavior and laid the foundation for the new field of experimental economics. Dr. Smith served as the first UAA Rasmuson Chair of Economics from 2003 to 2006. In this role, he made a remarkable impact at UAA, developing a new experimental economics program and encouraging faculty to incorporate experiments into their teaching and research. Today, UAA’s Vernon Smith Economic Science Laboratory is recognized internationally for distinction in research and teaching. The lab continues to attract leading scholars in the field.

Mr. Robert R. Gasaway is a Washington, D.C. attorney, constitutional scholar and legal reform advocate. He has served as lead attorney for parties in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals, state supreme courts, federal and state trial courts, administrative agencies and state legislatures. In addition to representing clients, Mr. Gasaway serves as Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago Law School. A University of Chicago law graduate, Mr. Gasaway began his career as a business consultant and earned two graduate degrees in intellectual history from Yale University.

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Finishing a decade-long project

When I took over as head of Archives and Special Collections in June of 2007, I had a lot of goals for the department. Most of those were user-focused and revolved around simplified access to collections. One of the things on my target list was our finding aids.

The original collection description for the Margaret Heller papers. Click to see a readable version.

Our finding aids, while having the basics necessary to an archival guide, weren’t very navigable. Sections of the guide weren’t labeled, so people coming upon the guides in a web search wouldn’t know what the numbers on each line item in a container list meant. And it could vary: sometimes it was a box, sometimes it was a folder, sometimes it was an item. The guides were full of abbreviations that might not mean anything to a researcher and judging by our reference requests often didn’t: people didn’t know that cu. ft. was short for cubic foot and worse, that it was some sort of hint to them as to the size of the collection. (.2 cu. ft. = small, 123.4 cu. ft. = large collection, probably with 120 boxes of material or more). How about the elements that simply weren’t in those inventories: like who owned the copyright to the material in the collection? Or was any of the collection available online? What does that HMC-0398 thing mean anyhow? Add in some inconsistent numbering systems for the inventories such as one 18 box collection that had 16 boxes numbered 1, and I was done with that.

One of the first things I did in the summer and fall of 2007 was to build a finding aid template and the guidelines for filling it in. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this about archival research, but unlike MARC records for library cataloging, there is no national or international format standard for archival description. There’s a lot of standards around archival description content that are nationally accepted like “use undated, not n.d.” and a creator name should follow “this construction” and a scope and content note should include “this type of information”, but there’s nothing that says “this piece of information shows up in this order in the finding aid.” So in building ours, I wanted to both meet the currently accepted national content standard of DACS (Describing Archives: a Content Standard) and to also use a format for the guides that would make them easily exportable into one of the national databases of archival holdings were we to eventually be able to join in on one of those.  Logically the format standard for us to use was the one being promoted by the then Northwest Digital Archives (now ArchivesWest) so we took that, renamed and re-ordered a few things to meet our specific collection needs, and we started to use that for any new collection description we were doing. Which was great! Our new finding aids were looking terrific and even if they still presented some challenges for researchers at least we were able to provide much quicker reference assistance because we could navigate things faster. And no more than one Box 1 per collection! Plus if we were ever able to join up in one of those national databases of archival holdings, the sections of the finding aid were granular enough that a mass export to a different format would be more easily achieved.

But we still had a problem. About 750 problems, actually. All those old finding aids that had been created prior to fall 2007? Were still in the same old format. Were still as non-navigable. Still had all those references to cu. ft. And nobody ever recognized that the HMC- reference was the call number for the collection. Not to mention all those unlabeled numbers elsewhere in the collection: were those folders? Items? And how was the user supposed to know that 30 photographs from the collection had been digitized and placed on the Alaska’s Digital Archives?

That’s a long way of getting to the point: which is that I hate legacy finding aids. They’re a constant drain on you when you’re doing reference, they’re a challenge to researchers, and though I’m not terribly obsessive about these things, having multiple formats for finding aids is just a messy way of doing business. And so in December of 2007, we embarked on a legacy finding aid conversion project. A bit too Pollyannish of me, I admit, I thought this would be a pretty short project. I knew that we’d have to massage a lot of the data in the existing guides to fit our new standard, but I didn’t count on a few other things. Like as we were going through one of these, we might spot serious errors in the guides. Things that weren’t described as they could be. Things that never should have been appraised as archival. Boxes that were half empty for no reason. (Did I mention we were also getting low on vault space?) Records arrangements that were far more complicated than they needed to be. Materials that were on the shelf but not reflected in the finding aids (more than a few boxes sitting there labeled “miscellaneous” or worse “moldy” or even worse “nitrate film.” Did I just say something about things that weren’t described as they could be?) Recent or not-so-recent additions to the collections that hadn’t been added to the finding aid. Plus we were getting more reference questions, more new collections, we wanted to keep adding materials to the Alaska’s Digital Archives, we wanted to put a dent in our very large undescribed backlog, and the very realistic fact that all of us could only do so many of these conversions before we wanted to go screaming into the vault. So the legacy project kept looming over us.

We did a few concentrated bursts of work on it. One time I made the crew a deal: get 60 conversions done in one week and I’d make baklava for everybody. Okay, so we chose the simplest of the conversions and yes, I did my equal share, but we even went over that number. Who knew homemade baklava was such a motivator? But this conversion project really felt like the project that would never die.

The updated version of the Margaret Heller papers inventory. Note how all the sections of it have labels! Click to see a more readable version.

Only it did die. Yesterday. As of today, we have no legacy finding aids.

Yes, there was cake.


Are there more finding aid changes to come? No doubt. We’ve already amended the template a few times since late 2007, like adding a field about access to born-digital materials for the collections for which it is relevant, and we’re seeing more and more of those these days. Moving it into a database format that would allow for easier searching of specific fields would be nice. But now, right now, upgrades and migrations just became a whole lot simpler.

Thanks to all the student workers, volunteers, and interns who chipped away at a section of this huge project, and to all the archivists who put even bigger holes in it: Nicole Jackelen, Kathy Bouska, Mariecris Gatlabayan, Megan Friedel, Veronica Denison, Jay Sylvestre, and Gwen Higgins. Look what we did! You should be proud.

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Not Found in the Other 49: The Ron and Penny Zobel Papers

A guest post from our summer intern: Anna Leinweber. Thanks Anna!

As the summer intern visiting Alaska for the first time, I expected to learn many things about the state and its history while here. My expectations were that I would learn a great deal about Alaskan life and culture; things involving the outdoors and nature that is unfamiliar to me. What I did not expect was to work with papers from such a unique Supreme Court case as the Zobels’.

As a person born and raised in Louisiana, I have a special appreciation for unique state things. Due to things such as Huey Long legends, and the fact that Louisiana attorneys learn Napoleonic Civil Code instead of English Common Law like the other 49 states, I always assumed I knew some fun facts about peculiar legality. Again, Alaska serves to show me more! After all, the Permanent Fund Dividend yearly allocation of money to all state residents is truly different from the other 49. I’ve left the realm of Parishes and landed in the world of Boroughs.

In this world of Boroughs, the Zobels, Penny and Ron, also found themselves arriving at an interesting time, especially considering they were both lawyers. The late 1970s, the Trans-Alaska pipeline system, and Governor Jay Hammond spawned the idea of the Permanent Fund Dividend, in which the state would distribute money on a yearly basis to each resident. Wonderful, right? Only there was a hitch. Governor Hammond’s original PFD plan was to pay residents different amounts based on the number of years they had lived in Alaska since statehood. Enter Zobels. Penny and Ron quickly noted the unconstitutionality of such actions and filed suit, claiming Governor Hammond’s plan stood in contrast to the 14th Amendment. The case made its way through the courts of Alaska, and finally to the United States Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the Zobels. Henceforth, all Alaskan residents can annually claim a PFD check for an equal sum.

Just like Huey Long’s assassination stands in equal lore as his “Share Our Wealth” platform, the Zobels’ reputation and image amongst their fellow Alaskans rivals their case in the highest court in the land. Our collection of Zobel papers is not limited to legal research and case documents. There is letter upon letter from Alaskans of all ages criticizing the Zobels and denouncing them as “Cheechakos,” or short-term residents only seeking the benefit of Alaskan boom times. Many newspaper clippings from the Anchorage Times and Anchorage Daily News show the couple in a similar light. Thankfully, there is hope left yet, and the collection also contains letters of support and encouragement. The case was even used as an educational piece for a National Geographic project highlighting the Judicial Branch of the U.S. government, which the archives also has within the collection.

While Alaskans might have been divided on the dividend in the early years of the court battle, both the Zobels and the state were able to move forward. Ron served the state as Assistant Attorney General for a number of years, and Penny remained in private practice. The residents of Alaska can apply for their PFD check and enjoy their state money each fall, which continues to help alleviate the higher standard of living here.

The Zobels, although largely unknown to newer Alaskans, exemplify the spirit of this distinctive state in their willingness to separate from the norm. Through my time here in Alaska, and especially through processing the Zobel papers, I’ve learned much about striking out to defy the status quo. The Zobel papers are a testament to the tiresome, but worthwhile work of daring to be different. As I prepare to leave Alaska, I have a renewed appreciation for taking up a cause for what one believes in and seeing it through in the face of great opposition. All in all, the Zobel collection has much to teach us, not just about legal battles and the PFD, but about what it means to champion something that no one has before.

The post Not Found in the Other 49: The Ron and Penny Zobel Papers appeared first on Archives and Special Collections.

New in the Archives: July 2018

It is hard to believe it is August already, but time flies when you are busy. Last month we released not one, but two episodes of our podcast, Archiving AK. Arlene became famous thanks to her interview with C-SPAN about our materials relating to the 1964 Alaska earthquake. In addition to describing several new collections and adding images to Alaska’s Digital Archives, we began work on several of the multi-institution topic guides for which we received an Interlibrary Cooperation Grant.

Flowers planted in a dogsled

Flowers planted in a dogsled from Anne Nevaldine papers

Additions to Alaska’s Digital Archives:

Images can be found on the Digital Archives by searching the collection name.

38 images from Henry Gilbertson papers. Photographs of various locations in Alaska taken by an administrator of rural schools in Alaska who traveled to the schools he oversaw.

29 images from Jukichi (Jack) Nishida photographs. Photographs taken by a man who worked for a mining company in Ellamar.

Jukichi "Jack" Nishida

Jukichi “Jack” Nishida from Jukichi “Jack” Nishida photographs.

Collections converted to current standard:

HMC-0203: John Potter papers; 1942-1945. 0.01 cubic feet. Papers of an Air Force photographer, who served in Alaska in World War II.

HMC-0646: Allen D. Raney letters; 1944. 0.01 cubic feet. Letters written by a 364th Infantry Regiment lieutenant stationed at Adak Army Airfield in 1944.

HMC-0741: Eugene W. Stolz papers; 1942-1996. 0.2 cubic feet. Papers and photographs of a pilot who lived in Alaska.

HMC-1293 Joseph Rudd papers. 4.61 cubic feet. The personal and business papers of of a lawyer who lived in Alaska. Separated from the papers of his wife, Lisa Rudd (HMC-0212)

Collections described:

HMC-0165: Charles Lucier papers; 1903-2009. 0.5 cubic foot addition, transferred from UAF Archives. Ethnographic materials related to Karluk, Kotzebue, and Buckland.

HMC-0376: Winton C. Arnold papers; 1946-1981, bulk 1950-1969. 0.8 cubic foot addition. Papers of a lawyer involved in the Alaskan salmon industry, including photographs taken on a salmon industry trip to Russia, materials related to Alaska statehood, and Federal Trade Commission Proceedings.

HMC-1294: Anne Nevaldine papers; circa 1996-2009. 4 cubic feet and 315 GB. Primarily photographs of flowers and plants taken by a macro-photographer.

Close-up shot of a bee on a flower

Close-up shot of a bee on a flower from Anne Nevaldine papers

HMC-1295 Quota Club of Anchorage, Alaska records; 1952-2012.  Records of an Anchorage womens  club that engaged in service projects for the hearing impaired.

UAA-0132: UAA. Native Student Services records; 1982-2001. Records relating to the creation and operations of an educational support office for Native students.

Topic guides:

World War II in Alaska collections guide updated and additional collections added.

Other accomplishments:

C-SPAN aired the interview they did with Arlene about the 1964 earthquake.

Bonus podcast episode: interview with researcher Justin Rawlins.

Podcast episode 4: interview with Greg Schmitz and Kevin Tripp of the Alaska Moving Image Preservation Association (AMIPA).

Shelves in the AMIPA vault.

Shelves in the AMIPA vault.

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Archiving AK episode 3a: interview with Justin Rawlins

This bonus July episode of Archiving AK is an interview with Dr. Justin Rawlins, whose academic research relates to perception studies. He’s been looking at how Alaska is portrayed in media in the past and present, from educational films to reality TV. Dr. Rawlins teaches media and film studies at the University of Tulsa. He was kind enough take the time to talk to me, Arlene, about his research topic, share some of his thoughts about conducting research, and sharing some advice for researchers interested in traveling to Alaska to do research.

Below is a listing with links to some of the things discussed during the podcast:

7:25 Motion Picture Academy Archive, the Margaret Herrick Library
10:00 the book mentioned is The Alaskan Melodrama, by J. A. Hellenthal, published in 1936
16:55 Dorms/residence halls at UAA: Summer Guest Housing
19:15 Hilary Hilscher’s Alaska telecommunications history project collection
20:50 White Alice system
21:10 Film by Western Electric: Land of White Alice
23:35 White Alice antennas that look like theatre screens

The White Alice site at Northeast Cape, St. Lawrence Island.

32:15 A variety of research locations: Ransom Center at University of Texas, the Warner Brothers archives at the University of Southern California, the Film and Television Archive at the University of California Los Angeles, Wisconsin Historical Society, the Lilly Library at Indiana University
33:15 Histoire totale, Total history concept

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Archiving AK Episode 2: Interview with Pierce Bateman

In the second episode of Archiving AK, archivists Gwen and Veronica interview researcher Pierce Bateman. Pierce has been visiting the Archives as a researcher since 2015: first as an undergraduate student, and more recently as a graduate student writing his thesis. In the episode, they discuss Pierce’s background, current research topic, his general interests, and the various aspects of researching in archives from a researcher’s point of view.

Below, you can find explanations and further information regarding collections and people mentioned during the episode.

  • At 1:38, Pierce mentions researching in the Independence Mine records. The collection he is referencing is the Alaska-Pacific Consolidated Mining Company records, housed here at Archives and Special Collections.
  • Pierce mentions Ernest Gruening at 3:44. Gruening was the Governor of the Alaska Territory from 1939 until 1953, and a U.S. Senator from Alaska from 1959-1969. Gruening’s papers are held at the Alaska State Archives (RG101), as well as the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Alaska and Polar Regions Collections and Archives (USUAF155). 
  • At 3:45, Bob Bartlett is mentioned. Bartlett was appointed as secretary of the Alaska Territory in 1939 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, served as a delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives for the Alaska Territory from 1945 to 1959, and also served as United States Senator from Alaska from 1959 to 1968. University of Alaska Fairbanks, Alaska and Polar Regions Collections and Archives holds the E.L. “Bob” Bartlett papers (Collection 53).
  • At 3:46, James Wickersham is also mentioned by Pierce. Wickersham was appointed as district judge for Alaska by President William McKinley in 1900, until he resigned his post in 1908 and elected as Alaska’s delegate to Congress, serving until 1917, and then again from 1931 to 1933. The James Wickersham papers are available at the Alaska State Library Historical Collections (MS 107, Wickersham State Historic Site Collection).
  • Bob Atwood is mentioned at 4:01. Atwood was editor and later publisher of the Anchorage Times from 1935-1989. The Atwood family papers are available at the UAA/APU Archives and Special Collections.
  • Pierce mentions a topic guide created by the Archives at 7:10. The guide, which is titled Steamship related collections, includes collections that contain materials related to steamships and steamship companies.

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The Legacy of Sadako Exhibit in Reading Room

The Legacy of Sadako
Unveiling of the Exhibit

The members of Japanese Educational Tour of Colony High School met Mr. Masahiro Sasaki on March 11th, 2017 where he shared his thoughts about peace in the world. Mr. Masahiro Sasaki is an elder brother of Miss Sadako Sasaki who is the model for “The Children’s Peace Monument” in the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima. After being exposed to the atomic bomb, Sadako Sasaki suffered from leukemia and died at age of 12. Since her death, Mr. Sasaki has spent his time as an advocate of the world peace movement. Mr. Sasaki donated paper cranes that were folded by Sadako-san to the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum, The Pearl Harbor Museum, and the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri. Mr. Sasaki continues to appeal for world peace.

The members of Japanese Educational Tour of Colony High School presented a dream catcher as an Alaskan native art craft, an autographed letter from U.S. Congressman Don Young, and the flag of the United States of America that flew on Capitol Hill in Washington DC on February 11, 2017. February 11th is “National Foundation Day” in Japan. In return, Mr. Sasaki presented the Japanese Educational tour group with connected paper cranes which were folded by Mr. Sasaki. Colony High School is the first school in the world to receive one of Mr. Sasaki’s connected paper cranes. The members of the Japanese Educational Tour of Colony High School decided to donate the connected paper cranes to the UAA/APU Consortium Library as part of a permanent display which will be seen by tens of thousands of library visitors each year. The exhibit includes not only the connected paper cranes by Mr. Sasaki but hundreds of other paper cranes (Orizuru) folded by people in support of world peace.