Working Class Advocacy of the 1910s: The Socialist Press Newspaper

The Socialist Press is a weekly newspaper that was published out of Fairbanks in the 1910s. Its earliest issue is dated June 20th, 19142, and the paper’s editor was George Hinton Henry, formerly of the Yukon Press (Tanana). Mr. Henry was bold in his editorial assertions, which evidently caused quite the stir among the Fairbanks community–including among those of Socialist affiliation–for his unabashed critique of individuals, regardless of standing in society; however, Henry was not without support, from the judges who dismissed some of the libel cases brought up against him, to fellow newspaper editors like Frederick Heilig of the Fairbanks Times who occasionally published editorials in his defense1.

Years after publication ceased, Henry’s printing press was shipped to the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, from where it was eventually put on loan to the Circle District Museum, given its historical significance as the first printing press in Interior Alaska—said to date from 1893 by import of the Episcopal Church1.

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The first printing press of Interior Alaska1

Although the Socialist Press is selected for digitization by the Alaska National Digital Newspaper Project, all known surviving microfilms of the newspaper are currently of 3rd generation quality, and paper copies are lacking as well. This considered, any private collectors who may have preserved paper copies at home or elsewhere, please contact the Alaska State Library Historical Collections, (907) 465-2925, where we will very graciously accept donations of material, to be digitized and returned promptly to the donor. History will be indebted to your generosity!

 

References

Atwood, Evangeline, and Lew M. Williams. Bent Pins to Chains: Alaska and Its Newspapers. (Philadelphia: Xlibris, 2006), 36, 140.

Nicolson, Mary C., and Mary Anne Slemmons. Alaska Newspapers on Microfilm, 1866-1998. (Fairbanks: University of Alaska, 1998), 81.

23 Years of Kodiak News History going Digital this Year

The two-year grant provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2018 is still paving the way for more digitization of Alaskan newspapers. Patrons may now expect to see, among the newspaper titles going live on the Library of Congress website later this year, a span of 23 years of the Kodiak Mirror—from 1940 to 1963.

The name Kodiak comes from the Innuit word kikhtak, meaning island. Home of the Kodiak bear, where that species has thrived for 12,000 years, it is Alaska’s earliest Russian-American settlement, where in 1784 Grigory Shelikhov arrived with his fleet to establish a trading post.

At the time of the Mirror‘s first publication on June 15, 1940, its originator Gene Dawson was rallying for the incorporation of Kodiak as a first-class city. In a matter of weeks Dawson’s call would be answeredthe courts approved incorporation on July 1, 1940. The following year, Dawson sold his printing rights to Bill and Lillian Lamme; and the paper would change hands more than a half-dozen times in the subsequent decades of its publication, before assuming its current title of the Kodiak Daily Mirror on January 27, 1976.

Follow our Instagram account to read sample articles as they are being made available in digital format for the first time.

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A front-page article from the January 30, 1953 printing of the Kodiak Mirror

References

Atwood, Evangeline, and Lew M. Williams. Bent Pins to Chains: Alaska and Its Newspapers. (Philadelphia: Xlibris, 2006), 483.

Nicolson, Mary C., and Mary Anne Slemmons. Alaska Newspapers on Microfilm, 1866-1998. (Fairbanks: University of Alaska, 1998), 128.

Derek Stonorov, “Living in Harmony with Bears,” National Audubon Society, https://www.nps.gov/glba/learn/nature/upload/Harmony-20With-20Bears.pdf.

Historic Anchorage Newspapers to be Digitized

The following is a brief overview of early Anchorage-based newspaper titles, to be digitized in the current season of the Alaska National Digital Newspaper Project. A more complete summary of this history will be transmitted for inclusion in the Chronicling America newspaper directory in 2020.

According to early reports, a New Zealand native by the name of Bernie Stone, who had previously edited the Nome Nugget and was at the time responsible for the publication of the Seward Gateway, hired reporter L. F. Shaw along with journalist Ted Needham to found Anchorage’s first paper, the Cook Inlet Pioneer and Knik News, which would eventually become the Anchorage Daily Times and Cook Inlet Pioneer.

Needham and Shaw spearheaded a federal petition to request support for Anchorage’s founding, at a site named Ship Creek, where two thousand settlers had been pitching their tents and constructing temporary housing units along the banks of the creek since May of 1915. President Woodrow Wilson responded to Needham’s and Shaw’s request, assigning Tacoma newspaperman Franklin K. Lane to the role of Secretary of the Interior and directing Lane to build the railroad that would eventually grow the creek-side site into the boomtown of Anchorage, in coordination with engineering manpower from Col. Frederick Mears – at the time a young lieutenant – along with the Alaska Engineering Commission (AEC).

Early Anchorage papers such as the Cook Inlet Pioneer and Knik News (1915-1916) sold for ten cents a copy.

Pictured here is an article from one of Anchorage’s first weekly papers, the Anchorage Weekly Times, dated September 12, 1917.

Anchorage_Weekly_Times_-_Sept_12_1917

References

Atwood, Evangeline, and Lew M. Williams. Bent Pins to Chains: Alaska and Its Newspapers. (Philadelphia: Xlibris, 2006), 68, 247, 313.

Nicolson, Mary C., and Mary Anne Slemmons. Alaska Newspapers on Microfilm, 1866-1998. (Fairbanks: University of Alaska, 1998), 23.

Bruce Parham, “Mears, Frederick,” Cook Inlet Historical Society, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940, http://www.alaskahistory.org.

Aviatrices in Alaska!

Marvel Crosson, although perhaps Alaska’s most famous, was not the only female pilot to get her license or fly in Alaska in the early years of aviation history. In fact, women pilots in Alaska were more plentiful than history books let on. Those exposed to aviation were longing to fly, and women especially were inspired by Amelia Earhart’s 1932 solo transatlantic flight from Newfoundland to Ireland, and her speeches and articles, such as, “Should You Let Your Daughter Fly?” (2005. Fratzke, Jenifer. Alaska’s Women Pilots). Mary Worthylake, an Anchorage pilot, and Irene Irvine-Ryan were such pilots in Alaska in 1932 (1991. Bruder, Gerry. Heroes of the Horizon).

MarvelCrossonWithBrotherJoeIn1927Marvel Crosson with her brother Joe in 1927. She died in Arizona in 1929 in a race.

 

Identities of other women pilots are a mystery.

 

WomanPilotsBeforeAirRaceWoman pilots before air race.

 

For example, who was Mrs. E. Silkwood, purported to be the first woman pilot licensed in Alaska?

 

ChiefKetchGarkhEscortsAPartyOutToTakuGlacierThe Alaska Daily Empire, June 10, 1918.

 

Alaskan Historic News Titles Arriving Soon

This month the Alaska National Digital Newspaper Project will be digitizing microfilm newsreels from multiple early 20th century Ketchikan news sources. In addition, the early and middle years of the 20th century Nome Daily Nugget will be brought to text-searchable format for the first time, as well.

Among the recurring themes represented in the first two decades of the 20th century of the Nome and Ketchikan titles being digitized this month are local news stories, including ones reporting on social developments in and around Alaskan towns; the Alaskan trade, mining, and fishing industries; ongoing chronicles of developing geopolitical relations between European, Russian, Middle Eastern, and East Asian nations; the events set in motion by, and pertaining to, U.S. presidents; and more.

The pages go live on the Chronicling America website early next year, but in the meantime come visit our reading room at the Alaska State Library, Archives, and Museum, and browse the microfilm and print collections. Continue to look for updates to our blog and Instagram pages, as well, featuring digital snippets from each month’s additions, like the one pictured below.

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An April 28, 1937 front page article from the Nome Daily Nugget (Nome, Alaska)

 

Tales of Search and Rescue from Ketchikan

The Ketchikan Daily News (1947–Present), not to be confused with the Ketchikan Daily News (1922–1923), is a Ketchikan-based publication and continuation of the earlier Ketchikan-based Alaska Fishing News (1934–1945) and the Ketchikan Daily Alaska Fishing News (1945–1947). Note that the Alaska Fishing News (1934–1945) of Ketchikan is distinct from the similarly-titled Alaska Fisherman (1923-1932), the latter title being launched from Juneau in February of its first year of publication before relocating to Ketchikan in May of the same year.

With that explanation, this week’s AKDNP blog entry takes a closer look at one microfilm reel of the Ketchikan Daily News (1947–Present), selected from the year 1962. It is important to keep in mind that while newspapers published by 1923 are part of the public domain, as a general rule, those titles published between 1924 and 1963, and from 1964 to 1977, fall under a special category that merits further research to determine the copyright status.

According to the Library of Congress, more recent registrations or renewals of a pre-1924 copyright term create a special protection for a newspaper. When in doubt, consult the U.S. Copyright Office website records; however, be aware that the information posted on this blog is not comprehensive, nor does it constitute official legal advice—for professional counsel, confer with an attorney at law. With that said, the following table provides some basic guidelines from which to pursue an investigation into the public domain status of a newspaper:

USNewsCopyright.jpg

A general understanding of copyright law is now achieved. However, before we proceed to the specific reel under examination today from the Ketchikan Daily News, it is worth noting that several Ketchikan papers are coming to online format later this season as part of the Alaska Digital Newspaper Project, including the Alaska Fisherman (1923-1932) and the Ketchikan Miner (1907-1915); however, this is a rare early opportunity to read excerpts from the Ketchikan Daily News in online format, as the newspaper has not been officially selected for digitization yet. The following is a sampling of articles from the first two months of the September–December 1962 Ketchikan Daily News reel.

An initial browse of the first few title headings reveals a significant pattern—of numerous search and rescue stories—which became the central theme for today’s reel-wide browse. In the first half of the reel, 48 articles with a search and rescue theme were uncovered. Of these 48 articles, 8 stories were deemed especially relevant; among these eight, a few were chosen as the finalists.

Note that what began as the search and rescue, or first response, focus, evolved over the course of the research, as the vast gray area of the classification became more apparent. For example, Scouts (of the Boy Scouts of America) are not infrequently portrayed in the news in a search and rescue capacity, thus an article on Scout training was not excluded from the designated search and rescue theme. Similar logic was applied in selecting the remaining stories you will find here, pulled from a host of first-responder tales of all kind. With that stated, on to the stories.


While it’s not improbable to find a downed flight rescue story in the Ketchikan Daily News of this early-1960s era, more rare yet is the mention of a downed flight transforming into a significant archaeological discovery. While this event did not occur in Alaska, nor was the story’s author a Ketchikan reporter, the event did occur in the related landscape and climate of the Arctic, to be republished in Ketchikan on September 15, 1962:

Archaeologist_Findings_-_09-15-1962.jpg

The next interesting find from the Ketchikan ’62 newsreel tells the origin story of the University of Alaska’s Southeast branch, published on October 19:

UAS_-_Origin_Story_-_10-19-1962.jpg

Third in the running of today’s features is one from the Scouts, mentioned earlier, which was originally published in the Ketchikan Daily News on September 10, 1962:

ScoutTraining_09_10_1962.jpg

For these hidden treasures and more, look for the upcoming Ketchikan Mining News (1907), Ketchikan Miner (1907-1915), and the Daily Progressive Miner (1915-1919) on the Chronicling America website in text-searchable format, later this season. Also, visit the Alaska State Library today, where you can access dozens of historic newspaper titles on microfilm.

(Note: corrections have been made since an earlier publication of this blog entry, whereby an explanation of copyright law is now provided, with correct date ranges, along with an accurate list of Ketchikan titles to be digitized this season.)

Newspaper Project Director to Visit Kodiak This Week

National Digital Newspaper Project (NDNP) program director Anastasia Tarmann will be visiting Kodiak this week to give a presentation on the upcoming season of the NDNP project. Included among the 30 Alaskan newspaper titles to be digitized this year are two titles from Kodiak, the Kodiak Mirror and the Orphanage News Letter.

The Kodiak Mirror is a newspaper that began its publication in 1940, merging with Seward’s Mailboat Monitor in the mid-1950s before undergoing a name change in 1976, since when it has been published under the title Kodiak Daily Mirror. The Orphanage News Letter, also based in Kodiak, is a monthly newsletter published by the Kodiak Baptist Orphanage from 1899 to 1907. Anastasia will be speaking on the two papers and their significance as part of the Chronicling America project later this week.

In support of Anastasia’s visit, research has been conducted using the microfilm collection available to the public from the Alaska State Library physical collections. The following are highlights from research conducted using the Kodiak Mirror microfilm reel dated April 16, 1949 to June 10, 1950.

News articles from the Kodiak Mirror dated March 1950 through May 1950 offer a timeline of the process by which Alaska achieved statehood nearly a decade later. One March 4, 1950 report describes the successful passage of the statehood bill through the House of Representatives, on its way to the U.S. Senate for further review:HouseStatehoodBill1_March41950.jpgHouseStatehoodBill2_March41950.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The next month, on April 11, 1950, Kodiak Mayor Lee C. Bettinger issued a statement calling for local support of the Senate hearings to pass the statehood bill:

MayorStatehoodPleasApril11950.jpg

A week later, on April 18, 1950, the Mirror published an announcement from the Associated Press foreshadowing the approaching Senate hearings in Washington:

SenateStatehoodHearingsSoonApril181950.jpg

A few days later, on April 22, 1950, students in Kodiak formed a debate group to discuss the essential issues involving the statehood question:

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The final statehood development to be found in the April 16, 1949 to June 10, 1950 reel, in a May 27, 1950 article, goes on to describe the Senate statehood hearings from the perspective of Kodiak visitors in attendance at the Washington sessions:

VisitorsTellOfStatehoodHearings1_May271950.jpg

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Viewing the news articles by microfilm illustrates both the value of newspapers as primary source documents as well as the unique importance of text-searchability made possible by digitization. Patrons may appreciate the serendipity inherent in microfilm viewing compared with online text searching, as well; each has its upside.

As the NDNP project is advancing, a significant number of Alaska newspapers remain accessible by microfilm only, continually present in the Alaska State Library collections. These holdings are catalogued on the Alaska State Library website for the perusal of visiting library patrons.

By August 2020, the Alaska State Library will have contributed at least 210,000 pages of Alaskan historical newspapers from across the state, ranging from 1898 to 1963. Visit Chronicling America to access these pages and more from the online repository.