About aschmuland

I'm head of Archives & Special Collections at the Consortium Library. I've been with A&SC since 2002, first as reference archivist, now as head of the department.

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. https://bit.ly/2mkB5sq

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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New in the Archives: June 2018

It’s so hard to stay inside in June in Alaska! But we managed to get a lot done anyhow. Here’s the June 2018 wrap-up:

New personnel:

Sara Rollins, a local high school student, is volunteering with us this summer for 2-3 days each week. She’s doing a wide variety of tasks including creating an exhibit from our Rare Books collection, selecting images for our social media outlets, and lots of scanning of photographs so we can put them up on the Alaska’s Digital Archives.

Anna Leinweber, a grad student in the library program at Louisiana State University, decided to visit Alaska for her grad internship. She’s done a lot of cataloging of images for the Alaska’s Digital Archives (see below), some collection description, and spent some time working with some of our reference questions too.


We had a booth at PrideFest again this year. As always, we talked to lots of people both about the resources we have for research and about how they might think about their own documents and photographs being placed in an archives. (And a chance to be outside in Alaska in June, though it was quite windy.)

Our booth at PrideFest. We like our new banner and tablecloth.

Social media: We posted 29 tweets to Twitter: mostly photographs relating to #GreatOutdoorsMonth. We posted 7 times to Facebook and 4 times to Instagram (note to archivists: we need to do more Instagram!). Are you following us on those sites? Twitter: @CLArchives, Facebook: @ConsortiumLibraryArchives, Instagram: clarchives (we promise we’ll do better on Instagram).

Our volunteer Sara curated an exhibit on exploration narratives from our Rare Books holdings. That exhibit can be viewed in the Great Room of the Consortium Library.

We posted the third installment in our podcast series: this one a conversation between Gwen, Veronica, and Arlene on tourism in Alaska and how it is reflected in our collections. We also recorded two more, including a bonus episode coming in mid-July  in which Arlene talks with one of our visiting researchers about media and Alaska and archives. Our next regularly scheduled episode will be posted later in July and in that one, Veronica talks with our colleagues at the Alaska Moving Image Preservation Association about what it is they do.

And in a very out-of-the-ordinary moment, C-SPAN‘s Cities Tour visited us on the 26th and interviewed Arlene about our holdings relating to the 1964 Alaska earthquake. They tell us we might just see that interview airing the weekend of July 21-22.


Gwen was awarded an Interlibrary Cooperation Grant from the Alaska State Library and the Institute for Museum and Library Services. This grant will allow us to work with other archives to create some cooperative guides to collections across Alaska and get them posted on SLED (State Library Electronic Doorway). We did one a few years ago on where to find the records/papers of former governors of Alaska. We also finished one in June on where to find archival materials in the US and Canada (primarily Alaska & Yukon Territory) on the CANOL pipeline which was funded by UAA’s Elizabeth Tower Endowment for Canadian Studies (thanks to Veronica for applying for and getting that grant). The CANOL guide should be going live later in July.

Additions to Alaska’s Digital Archives:

The work to transfer the historic UAA images from picturingUAA to the Alaska’s Digital Archives continued. 243 images were moved over which included additional metadata and editing some of the information accompanying the photographs.

New content added to the Alaska’s Digital Archives includes:

27 images from the W. D. Lacabanne photographs.  Most of the images relate to the canneries at Nushagak in 1931. Anna the Intern did these.

22 images from McGlashan and Monsen family photographs. These mostly relate to Naknek from 1910-1950.

44 images from Emma Cameron slides. Emma Cameron was a school teacher in Nome in the late 1940s, early 1950s.

40 images from the C. H. McLeod photograph albums. Anna the Intern also did these. The photos date from about 1898-1903 and mostly relate to southeast Alaska.

Collection description:

You might recognize some of these from the above Digital Archives additions.

HMC-0670: Washington D. Lacabanne papers; 1931. 0.2 cubic foot addition of photographs.

HMC-0989: Atwood family papers; 1906-2003. 1.8 cubic foot addition.

HMC-1290: John Cloe papers; 1943-2016. Research materials related to John’s book Mission to the Kurils.

HMC-1291: Jukichi (Jack) Nishida photographs; circa 1913-1981. Photographs taken by a man from Japan who worked for a mining company in Ellamar.

HMC-1292-AHS: C. H. McLeod photographs; undated, 1898-1903. Photographs of southeastern Alaska.

UAA-0076: Enrollment Management slides; 1977-1997. Photographs of campus life at UAA.

Legacy finding aids updated:

HMC-0232: Betty Jo and Bruce Staser family papers; 1946-1985. 0.4 cubic feet. Documents from a military serviceman and employee of the Municipality of Anchorage.

HMC-0233: Harry Staser family papers; 1891-1977. 0.2 cubic feet. Family papers of an Alaskan miner and deputy marshal.

HMC-0415: Society for Technical Communication. Alaska Chapter records; 1981-1991. 1.8 cubic feet. Records of an organization for technical writers.

Collection additions and changes:

We received five new collections or additions to collections. Veronica paid a visit to the Inupiat Heritage Center in Utqiaġvik to bring them a portion of a collection that was more appropriate to their holdings than ours.

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Archiving AK episode 3: tourism in Alaska

In the third episode of Archiving AK, archivists Gwen, Veronica, and Arlene discuss some of the tourism-related collections available here at the Archives. We look at how Alaska tourism has changed, what has remained the same, and how it is represented through the lens of the archival materials that have come to us.

Below, you can find explanations and links with further information regarding collections and people mentioned during the episode. They are arranged in the order in which they were mentioned in the podcast.

Martin Itjen (left) and his street car, Skagway. Mannequin of Soapy Smith is on the right. From: Eby, Shelland, and Stark tourist papers, Alaska Historical Society collections, Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage

Purgatory, AK and St. Nicholas. From: Eby, Shelland, and Stark tourist papers, Alaska Historical Society collections, Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage.

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May Day: blinded by the light

We’re a teensy bit late on May Day this year. On May 1, we often celebrate May Day by doing something to help us out with preservation or disaster recovery planning. We’ve been getting some collections with old stills in recently so we decided it was time to figure out how to tell if something is cellulose based stock or not. Both acetate and nitrate cellulose film stock are best stored frozen.  (Here’s an earlier blog entry about nitrate moving image stock gone wrong.)

I’ll skip the history of film stock and nitrate in particular since you can find that easily enough elsewhere (here’s one source) and I’ll skip the long version of why we’re keeping the stuff when we can. But it’s not always simple to tell what the film stock is. Some have little notches in the edges of the negative where different patterns can tell you what type it is, but not all do. And unfortunately most of the definitive tests that determine whether something is nitrate specifically are either illegal for us to do (burning) or impractical (chemical testing with some seriously nasty chemicals). They’re all basically destructive, which means you’d have to clip a section off the negative to test it. The problem with that is that not all negatives have clear space on the edges allowing for clipping without cutting into the image, even if we could do chemical or burn testing.

Since Veronica and Arlene both were working with collections of the appropriate age to have nitrate or acetate cellulose stock and both of which had a lot of still negatives in them, unfortunately without the notch coding, it was time to see if we could figure something out. According to one of our colleagues in AMIPA, who is our resident expert in all things film-related, there’s a polarization effect that happens with polyester based films that doesn’t happen with cellulose based films. So we found some instructions from the National Park Service on how to build a quick and easy film viewer with a polarizing filter that would allow us to do some quick checks. So that’s what we did today to celebrate Archives May Day.

We gathered our supplies and started cutting the mat board to size, the filtering film to size, and taping the pieces together. They’re not the prettiest things on earth, mat stock does not yield easily to a cutting blade, plus the craftiest of our bunch is Arlene and she failed scissors in kindergarten, but the end result mostly looked like what was in the NPS instructions.

And that’s when things went a bit awry. First of all it took us all a while to get the polarizing film oriented correctly. And then we were having problems seeing the interference patterns on our sample of polyester based film. But with a little help with from our AMIPA expert and carefully holding it up against one of our new, very bright task lamps, we finally saw the difference between the two. And we also decided that we need to keep a piece of polyester film on the side so we remember what it looks like since what we’re looking for is the absence of that look in the cellulose stock. We also learned that we should not look directly into our new, very bright task lamps since they’re, well, very bright.

That’s what we did for May Day. And we have an offer for you: we built three of these but we don’t need three. So we’re offering one of the ones we built (the prettiest one of the bunch) to the first archives, library, or museum in Alaska who contacts us and asks for it. Please use the contact link above and include your mailing address and institution name and we’ll get it mailed out to you.

Happy May Day!

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New in the Archives: April 2018

We kept busy in April, with the launch of our podcast, Archiving AK, as well as the 5th iteration of our annual Eating from the Archives potluck. Here’s what we did last month:

Collection description:

HMC-0370: Christine McClain papers; 1907-1992. 0.5 cubic foot addition. Articles and drafts of fiction stories of an Anchorage-area freelance journalist.

HMC-0429: Sam McClain papers; 1940-1994. 0.4 cubic foot addition. Photographs taken of trips around Alaska and elsewhere.

HMC-1287: Chugach Conference records. Originally part of the Larry Pearson papers, this section of the collection was separated out to be its own collection. Materials from a conference related to telecommunications policy and planning.

UAA-0131: UAA. Center for Information Technology records. Originally part of the Larry Pearson papers, this section of the collection was separated out as a University records series.

Chilkoot Challenge

A feast fit for the gold rush. Dishes entered into the Chilkoot Challenge.


HMC-0480: Matanuska Valley Bank records; 1947-1965. Records of a bank based in Palmer, Alaska.

HMC-0492: History of Sand Lake project records; 1950-1988. In 1988, a group of fourteen sixth grade students from Sand Lake and Chinook Schools combined to write a history of the Sand Lake neighborhood in Anchorage.

HMC-0507: Indivisible: stories of American community Alaskan fishing communities project records; 1999-2001. Records related to a documentary project on Alaskan fishing communities.

HMC-0923: Howard Culbertson family scrapbook; 1967. Scrapbook of postcards and tourism flyers from a family who traveled across Canada and Alaska.

Karl Bowersox

Karl Bowersox on in front of the radio office door on the deck of the USMS Boxer.

Alaska’s Digital Archives:

Images of Henry S. Kaiser Jr. Photographs taken by a man who was born in Fairbanks, spent time in the Seward Sanitorium due to a heart defect, and later worked as an educator with the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

53 images from Dorothy and Grenold Collins. The papers of an Alaskan bush pilot, sportsman, and business owners.

41 images from McGlashan and Monsen family photographs. Photographs primarily taken in Naknek and Akutan.

53 images from Karl C. Bowersox papers. Photographs of a purser and radio operator aboard the USMS Boxer and USMS North Star.

158 recordings from Alaskan poet and storyteller Ruben Gaines, including many Beluga Bugle short mock radio news pieces and longer items from his Conversation Unlimited radio broadcast.

added metadata to 8 images from the papers of Leland A. Olson, a worker on the White Alice system.

The sheet music to: When the moon shines down in old Alaska then I’ll ask her to be mine. 1916.

Monsen family in Naknek, circa 1934-1935.


Our podcast, Archiving AK, is live! In our first episode the three archivists from Archives and Special Collections take turns interviewing each other. You can find the first episode here and follow us on SoundCloud.

We hosted the Chilkoot Challenge cooking competition and potluck on April 23. This year, our annual Eating From the Archives potluck featured dishes inspired by the Klondike Gold Rush. The twist: all of the dishes had to be made using only the ingredients found in the recommended grocery outfit for the Chilkoot Trail listed in a Montgomery Ward advertisement. This was also our first potluck that was also a cooking competition, complete with prizes.

Pick and Hammer shows from Ruth Schmidt papers, digitized with funding given to the Archives by the Schmidt estate.

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New in the Archives: March 2018

March has been a busy month for us! Must be all that extra light we’re getting right now that’s letting us get all this work done!

Collections described:

Ruth Hart papers; 1964-2003. HMC-1279. The collection contains the papers of Ruth …

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