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.

Archives month event: free book enclosure class: RSVP required!

Thanks to Northwest Archivists, the professional association for our region, we received some funding for an Archives Month event.

Do you have some books, journals, or diaries that need a little added protection on your shelves? Want to learn how to make some inexpensive covers for them?

A few enclosed books in our Rare Books collection.

Saturday, October 20, at 3:00 pm, we’re hosting a DIY book enclosure workshop. We’ll supply the card stock, scissors, pencils, rulers, and instructions, you bring along a book that you want to enclose. Because not all books are easy to build enclosures for, we ask that for this training you bring something that isn’t tiny, isn’t skinny, isn’t huge. A relatively standard size book or journal should work well. We’ll be sending you home with supplies to make more.

Since we have limited funding for the workshop supplies and this is a hands-on workshop, you will need to RSVP to us to reserve a place. The Contact Us link up at the top of this page will take you to a webform that you can use to submit an email to us to reserve your spot. Our phone number is there, too, if you prefer to call. If you’re working on a mobile device, the Contact Us link can be found under the menu icon (three horizontal bars) toward the top of the page. If you haven’t received a confirmation from us within one business day, please call!

Want to bring the kids? The project requires the use of fairly sharp scissors (says the archivist who nearly failed the scissors section of kindergarten) and the ability to use a ruler to take measurements. We’ll let you judge if  your kids are up for that. However due to various UAA campus safety regulations, we ask that children and minors under 18 be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Oh, and if you don’t want to bring a book with you–please don’t bring any very fragile or highly valuable books that could be damaged in transit!–we’ll have a few around that you can use to practice with.

Oh, also important: parking is free on campus on Saturdays!

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Archiving AK episode 6: STEM

In episode 6 of Archiving AK, Arlene, Veronica, and Gwen talk about our preparations for participating in UAA’s STEM Day. We look at how science, technology, engineering and math materials appear in our collections and how they can be or have been used by researchers. We also talk about some of the issues that can crop up with describing and providing access to STEM materials, especially with medical research collections.

Here’s links to some of the organizations and items mentioned in the podcast:

Stereoviews and stereoscopes

3:30 Examples of stereoviews and information on stereoviewers

5:20 Carbon paper

5:30 A sample telegram

6:45 Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast

10:00 Charles Sawyer Wilson papers

12:30 Mildred Stratton Wilson papers

14:45 A list of our topic guides

16:00 American Society for Circumpolar Health and International Union for Circumpolar Health

16:25 William Mills papers

16:30 Frank Pauls papers

16:35 Christine Heller papers

16:50 Charles Lucier papers

18:15 HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)

19:15 Society of American Archivists and the American Archivist journal

19:40 SAA’s Privacy and Confidentiality Section

19:45 Archivists and Librarians in the History of the Health Sciences

22: 45 Anchorage Christmas Bird Count records

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PARK(ing) Day with an archives twist!

Do you know about PARK(ing) Day? It’s a once a year event where people turn parking spaces into “parklets.” We’re participating this year, but we’re doing an archival spin on it: we’re hosting a PARK(ives)! We’ll be taking over a space in the Library parking lot on Friday and creating a space for you to create a document and add yourself to the Archives.

Details: Friday, September 21, 9 am – 4 pm, we’ll have a space out in the Consortium Library parking lot (across from Providence Hospital near the intersection of Providence Drive and Alumni Drive).

Document your Alaska: come share a memory, tell us a story, perform a song, write a poem, write a diary entry, draw a sketch from your day, download a photo, whatever you like.  We’ll have notebooks and sketchpads and video and audio recording equipment. As well as some pens, pencils, watercolors, and so on. You’re welcome to bring your own supplies to create your document if you like.

AND: for those of you coming by car, parking is free on campus this Friday so pull up to a spot near our PARK(ives) and come visit.

We’ll add the results to the Archives and share some on social media.

Oh, and if you have any questions about the Archives and what research you can do, we can answer those questions too.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Archiving AK episode 5: Anna the Intern interviews us

In episode 5 of Archiving AK, Anna, our grad intern over the summer, took some time out of her last week with us to interview us for the podcast. The discussion goes into topics like what we hope for/see for the future of the archives profession, what skills and knowledge we would like new professional archivists to have obtained in their archives classes, the role of professional associations in our work and development, and the types of things we wish people knew about our work.

Thanks to Anna for all her accomplishments over the summer, for putting together a fascinating set of questions for us, and ably handling discussion traffic control with three very verbal archivists!

Here’s links to some of the organizations and items mentioned in the podcast:

1:25 UCLA term positions letter

15:15 Newsbank (we use it a lot for access to obituaries and other news items when writing biographical notes for finding aids)

19:25 SAA: Society of American Archivists

21:50 Northwest Archivists

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The UAA historic photo scavenger hunt!

Fabulous prizes to be won! Are you a UAA student enrolled this fall? Think you might know your way around campus or want to try finding your way around campus? We have 8 historic photos taken on the UAA campus. Your task, should you accept it, is to find these locations and re-photograph them.

Here’s the details:

How it works:

  • Put together a team of 3-6 people, all of whom must be registered for classes at UAA in the Fall 2018 semester. Nobody can serve on more than one team.
  • Select one teammate to be your designated photographer
  • Stay safe! Don’t take any chance of injuring yourselves or others (and please, please, please, don’t climb on the artwork!)
  • Go look for the locations depicted in these photos and retake the photos with your group in them. Remember, you’re looking for the location (i.e. buildings) as some elements may have been moved. Please don’t move furniture, plants, etc to get your picture.
  • All members of your group, except the designated photographer, must be in each photograph
  • Post the photos to Instagram and make sure you tag the Archives @clarchives and use the hashtag #picturinguaa with each image (make sure it’s a public account so we can see them)
  • Email the Archives uaa_archives@alaska.edu by 5 pm on 9/4 with a list of your team members and the name of the Instagram account where you posted the images
  • We want to share your work with the world so we may grab them and share them via our social media accounts (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook): by participating in the challenge you’re agreeing that it’s okay for us to do that

Prizes for:

  • The first team to complete the challenge—we’ll be using the date stamp on the email to the Archives to determine this ($20.00 UAA Bookstore gift certificate to each team member) so don’t wait til 9/4 to notify us if you finish sooner!
  • The most creative recreation of a photograph as agreed upon by the archivists and maybe a couple of celebrity UAA judges ($20.00 UAA Bookstore gift certificate to each team member)

Here’s the 8 photos (click on them to see a larger view):

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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.

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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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Posted in Uncategorized

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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