Highlights from the Alaska Historical Society’s annual conference in Nome- Including a peek inside the offices of the Nome Nugget!

Nome Alaska

Greetings! We have recently returned from the Alaska Historical Society’s annual conference in held in Nome, Alaska, between September 12-15.

While in Nome, the Society held the opening reception, presentations, lectures, and poster sessions throughout Old St. Joe’s community meeting room, the Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum, and the Northwest Campus of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

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Nome, Alaska at dusk.

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Anvil City Square featuring Old St. Joe’s meeting center in the background and a statue of two Inupiaq men and a dog.

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Interior of Old St. Joe’s during the State of the State luncheon.


Exterior of the Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum, the Kegoayah Kozga Public Library, and the Katirvik Cultural Center.

Museum exhibit

From the Museum exhibit on the history of the Nome Nugget.

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One of many presentations at the Alaska Historical Society’s annual conference.

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Conference attendees.

During this conference, we presented a poster that outlined preservation and accessibility progress made on the Nome Nugget, Alaska’s oldest newspaper.

Nome Nugget Poster

The Alaska Historical Society awarded the Alaska State Library, Archives and Museum the Barbara S. Smith Pathfinder Award for the Alaska Newspaper Digitization Project. The Society recognized our efforts in making historic Alaska newspapers available online and text-searchable through Chronicling America.

NDNP award

During the conference, we had the opportunity to visit Nome Nugget headquarters, which houses daily operations and bound volumes of the paper dating back to 1934. Editor and Publisher Diana Haeker, who took over after Nancy Mcguire’s recent passing and her partner, reporter Nils Hahn, provided a tour of the historic building and antique press equipment (they still have original typesetting and lithographs!).

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Janey Thompson and Anastasia Tarmann in front of the original offices of the Nome Nugget.

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Diana Haeker and Nils Hahn in front of a shelf of bound volumes of the Nome Nugget.

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Drafting table with drawers of letters for type setting.

Woodblock print illustration

Woodblock lithograph.

Contact Sheet

Diana holding a contact sheet printed on stainless steel.

We felt so honored to have been invited to tour the offices of Alaska’s oldest newspaper. Having inputted metadata for hundreds of issues of the Nome Nugget, I experienced a sense of awe visiting the very same offices in which reporters and editors composed those very issues.


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Myself, Anastasia, Nils, and Diana.


Newspaper in Focus: The Eskimo Bulletin


Image credit: Alaska State Library

Greetings, all,

With the school year underway, now is a good time to focus on school newspapers- with  emphasis on one title in particular, the Eskimo Bulletin from Cape Prince of Wales.

Of course, as this blog has chronicled, missionary schools forcefully separated Alaska Native children from their families and discouraged their traditions through violent means. It is important to present an accurate picture of our collections, and the Eskimo Bulletin represents a relic of the efforts to “Anglicize” its indigenous students. However, the title is a key part of Alaska newspaper history, and of the legacy that the missionary school system inflicted on Alaska Native children. Newspaper collections serve as a reminder of our history- for better or for worse.

William Thomas Lopp, a missionary and educator, first started the Eskimo Bulletin as an annual newspaper with the masthead motto: “The Only Yearly in the World” and billed the paper as “the most northerly newspaper in the world”. A newspaper, Lopp reasoned, could help children to learn English through writing, engraving, printing, and typesetting. The paper published its first issue in May of 1893 and lasted until 1902.

The Alaska Historical Society writes:

“On the inside pages, Lopp provided local news from the Eskimo settlements of western Alaska. These items must have seemed pretty exotic to their Lower 48 readers. Lopp reported, for example, that because of the scarcity of seals in the spring, the price of boot soles advanced from 2 to 7 bits of lead. He also wrote of the success of whale, walrus, and even squirrel hunts; trade with Siberian peoples; and the travels, marriages, and illnesses of local residents. Ad-loo-at, a local Native carver, produced woodcut illustrations, while he and other Natives did typesetting.

“The press broke after Lopp had printed the first page of the 1898 issue. He mimeographed the other pages of that issue. He and mechanically-minded Eskimos eventually repaired the press. Lopp left the press behind when he departed the Wales mission in 1902. A teacher at Wales in 1905-06 later used the press to produce a 2-page monthly called the Midnight Sun.”

With the upcoming grant cycle, we intend to add the Eskimo Bulletin to Chronicling America to mark the role that missionary schools played in the history of the state as recorded through newspapers.

Special thanks to Alaska Newspapers on Microfilm 1866-1998 and the Alaska Historical Society.

For further reading on the Lopp family, please consult the following works:

Kathleen Lopp Smith, “Tom and Ellen Lopp and the Natives of Wales, 1890-1902” in Alaska History, volume 10, #2, Fall 1995.

Kathleen Lopp Smith and Verbeck Smith, ed. and annotated, Ice Window: Letters from a Bering Strait Village: 1892-1902 (Fairbanks: University of Alaska Predd, 2001).

Labor Day Holiday Weekend


Labor Day 2

Image credit: The daily Alaskan. (Skagway, Alaska), 05 Sept. 1908. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82014189/1908-09-05/ed-1/seq-1/>

This long weekend commemorates Labor Day, a tribute to the hardworking individuals whose efforts created the American labor movement through trade unions. Were it not for labor unions, workers would not have weekends free or the right to collectively bargain. September 5, 1882 marked the inaugural Labor Day, formed by the Central Labor Union in New York City as a “workingman’s holiday”.

Labor Day 4

Image credit: The daily morning Alaskan. (Skagway, Alaska), 02 Sept. 1902. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87062035/1902-09-02/ed-1/seq-1/>

The holiday weekend also meant an opportunity to travel and leisure, as the following clippings from historic Alaska newspapers demonstrate.

Labor Day Celebration: Cordova, Monday, September 5th; Special Excursion Will arrive from Copper River Camps Sunday afternoon and returning will leave here Tuesday morning. Entertainment for All: McCarthy vs. Cordova Ball Teams Will Play Monday, 10:30 a.m. Rifle Shooting Contest; Afternoon of Street Sports; Boxing Contest at 10 am.; Two Dances at 10:30 p.m.; Cordova Band of 20 Pieces Will Furnish Music During the Day; Come to Cordova for Labor Day

Image credit: The Cordova daily times. (Cordova, Alaska), 31 Aug. 1921. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86072239/1921-08-31/ed-1/seq-6/>

Labor 3

Image credit: The Thlinget. (Sitka, Alaska), 01 Sept. 1911. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn94050023/1911-09-01/ed-1/seq-2/>

Labor Day 5

Image credit: Douglas Island news. (Douglas City, Alaska), 06 Sept. 1899. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84021930/1899-09-06/ed-1/seq-2/>

This Monday, be sure take a moment to reflect back on the contributions of the labor movement to grant workers basic necessities- and a holiday!


Mosquito Season

SCREEN EARLY! You Can Get It at Young's; FLY SCREENS Of All Descriptions; Adjustable Screens in All Sizes. C.W. Young CO. Quality and Service

Image credit: July 10, 1920 issue of the Alaska Daily Empire.

Mosquitoes occupy a special place in the landscape of Alaska. According to a survey from 1961, Alaska is home to approximately 35 individual species of mosquitoes. Their large numbers lend them the label as the unofficial state bird. In fact, the largest North American species of mosquito, the Snow Mosquito, calls Alaska home. In these dog days of summer, it’s worth a look at Alaska historical newspapers covered these pest- besides swatting them with a rolled up issue, of course!

MOSQUITOES EATING MINERS: "Senator" Charley Hill and F.M. Schroeder, who are amongst the old Nomeites who returned from the Inoko yesterday, state that the busiest beings along that river are the mosquitoes. They came down stream on a scow, which was the only thing built by the lumber mill that had been brought in by an enterprising individual, and on which another Nome man, who was their fellow traveler, went pretty near jumping overboard because of the attacks of the stinging insects.

Image credit: from the August 8, 1907 issue of the Nome Daily Nugget.

Female is most deadly: Mosquito Expert Now in Yukon Says Lady Mosquitoes Do All the Biting; The following descriptions of the habits of mosquitoes and also the habits of the famous mosquito expert who has been in the interior will give Alaskans some idea of the nature of the pests. It is from the Dawson News. Harrison G. Dyar, A.M., Ph. D., of the United States National Museum of Washington, D.C., who visited Dawson last week, is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, authorities in the world on mosquitoes. He has devoted years to the study of the mosquito in various countries and under all conditions. He came to the coast some time ago to study the pest; he spent much time in British Columbia, and gathered specimens at all points en route to Dawson. Considerable time was spent at Prince Rupert, and again at Whitehorse. He found the mosquitoes quite common at Whitehorse and secured 4,000 of them there. The mosquitoes, he believes, might be reduced, if not exterminated there by proper drainage and treatment of the water. Some time ago an experiment was made of trying to kill them with kerosene, but it is reported that oil was applied the wrong way, and not sprinkled and generally distributed as it should have been, and desired results were not obtained. At Dawson the doctor secured several hundred mosquitoes. He would have found them much more numerous on the creeks, especially where there are no settlements and little drainage, and on the tundra stretches of new creeks or unoccupied areas. Of the thousands of mosquitoes which the professor captured in the Yukon, he found one single mosquito which he classed as belonging to the malaria carrying class, and none of the others were classified as disease carriers, which explains in one way why Yukon is such a healthy country in the summer.

Image credit: Douglas Island news. (Douglas City, Alaska), 01 Aug. 1919. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

Geologist Talks of Alaskan Mosquito: H.M. Eakin, of Washington, D.C., of the United States geological survey employed in Alaska, yields the palm for bloodthirstiness and general all-around depravity to the Alaskan mosquito. While a geologist and mineralogist, Mr. Eakin has been forced through his many trips through the wilds to become also more or less of an oologist, especially where mosquitoes are concerned, and he has interested himself enough in the matter to collect data as to the habits of the insect. "The Alaskan mosquito has no rivals when it comes to personal bravery, fierceness, and meanness," he said. "I have had much experienced with mosquitoes, including those which reside along the Missouri river in the Dakotas. The Missouri river mosquito has long had a reputation as a ferocious insect, but in comparison to the beaked peril of the North it is merely an incident of travel. The mosquito of the central portions of America has a vacillating character. I might even go as far as to say that it is diffident and shrinking. When a foe comes in sight instead of rushing at the prospective meal this mosquito pauses, hesitates and sings a song to lull the senses of the victim before coming to bayonet range. "The mosquito of Alaska, however, has no scruples nor delicacy. It advances to the attack like a maddened hornet and wastes no time in mental queries as to whether the traveler is impregnated with nicotine or not. It is business first and the bill is presented at once. I am reliably informed that for every square foot of territory there are 150 mosquitoes. Thus as every mosquito disturbed by the forrt of the passerby arises from his down couch and pursues the meal ticket you can readily see that by the time a man has walked a mile or more he has quite a few mosquitoes attached to him as a convoy."

Image credit: The Alaska daily empire. (Juneau, Alaska), 04 June 1915. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

Stay safe outdoors and arm yourself with plenty of insect repellent!



Additional New Titles on Chronicling America

Iditarod Pioneer; One Dollar Per Month; Iditarod, Alaska, Sunday, July 10, 1910; Two Bits Per Copy; Building the City Rapidly; Iditarod Creeks are Looking Good; Machinery Moving to the Creeks

Image credit: Iditarod pioneer. (Iditarod, Alaska), 10 July 1910. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

Daily Prospector Bulletin; Vol. 4; Alaska Prospector; Valdez Alaska, November 14, 1907; Valdez News; No 9

Image credit: Daily prospector bulletin. (Valdez, Alaska), 14 Nov. 1907. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

Greetings all,

As the Library of Congress continues to process newspaper batches, more new Alaska newspaper titles are appearing each week on Chronicling America.

This past week, 427 issues of the Iditarod Pioneer and 1 issue of the Daily Prospector Bulletin became available to read.

Stay tuned for more Alaska newspaper titles posted!

Project Update: Funding Approved!

Hooray! Hoopla!

Image credit: The daily morning Alaskan. (Skagway, Alaska), 18 March 1902. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

Hello all,

Exciting news on the project front: a representative from the National Endowment for the Humanities contacted the Alaska State Library to notify us that we have been approved for an additional funding cycle from 2018 through 2020. This means that we can continue to produce content for Chronicling America and make historic Alaska newspapers online and text-searchable, free of charge.

In addition, we recently received a phone call from the office of Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski congratulating us on the work in progress, and on the project thus far.

Work has already started on this next cycle, as we are continuing to digitize and input metadata for the National Digital Newspaper Program.

From all of us at the Alaska State Library, we are thrilled to continue this project for another round, and for patrons to be able to search historic Alaska newspapers online.

Berry Picking in Southeast Alaska


Image taken by the author.

It’s berry picking season here in Southeast Alaska. Right now, blueberries, salmonberries, wild strawberries, thimbleberries, currants, and huckleberries are in abundance along creeks, roadsides, and mountain shrubs. Articles from historic Alaska newspapers chronicled the status of wild berries. Without the modern convenience of the Internet, or even comprehensive berry guides, people turned to newspapers and relied on the berry picking know-how of their peers in order to harvest their own bounty of berries.

Note the Berry, Gentle Tourist: One of the things that attracted vast attention on the part of the crowd of tourists in the city today and most impossible of belief of all the strange things they saw and were told, was the Alaskan strawberries on display at the stores. Alaskan strawberries as large as English walnuts on display just as a matter of course- they all smiled incredulously. But it is true, gentle tourist. These berries just now to be seen at the stores come from the vicinity of Haines- just fourteen miles down the canal, and as pretty a town and neighborhood as is to be seen out doors. Perhaps you have not seen the currants of which the people of Skagway have been "putting up" bushels and bushels. The currants are wild and grow upon the hill sides everywhere about Skagway so luxuriantly as to make of the gathering a pleasant picnic. Wild raspberries are just now "coming in" and the picking of these picnickers will turn their attention shortly. Oh yes, gentle tourist, you who have been taught that nothing grows up here but the Muir glacier, these things are hard to believe but they are true. No where on earth does the huckle or "blue" berry grow as it does along the coast of Alaska. The salmon berry is a wonder for production and beauty. As for the strawberry, those that you see are cultivated but they grow in abundance at many places wild. These are among the things you should know about Alaska, gentle tourist.

Image credit: The daily Alaskan. (Skagway, Alaska), 06 Aug. 1908. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

When going berry picking, it is important to take necessary precautions:

Be mindful of your surroundings. Berries can grow almost everywhere, and many plants can grow several feet tall. These plants can disguise uneven ground, and a false step can send you tumbling down a ravine. A handful of berries is not worth the risk of a serious injury. Encounters with bears or other wild life can occur as well, so it is best to make noise to make others aware of your presence.

Competition in Blueberry Range: A party who is too modest to wish his name in print, was picking blueberries on Salmon creek yesterday and left a half-filled can while he climbed further up the side hill in quest of berries. Hearing a racket behind him, he looked back and beheld a cub bear helping himself to the berries in the can. Nor did he dispute their possession for, standing by and watching her offspring enjoy the feast, was mamma bear, almost as big as a Missouri mule. One glance was sufficient for the berry picker, who lost no time in placing himself in the vicinity of a substantial tree.

Image credit: The Stroller’s weekly and Douglas Island news. (Juneau, Alaska), 13 Aug. 1921. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

Bring a plant identification book. Although this point may seem obvious, many berries can appear similar, and what you don’t know can kill you. Bookstores often carry a wide selection of pamphlets and books on berries and berry-like plants that use photos for clear identification. And don’t forget to wash your berries once you get home!

A Few Things Sitka Enjoys: Small fruits of many kinds and flavors growing from the beach to the tops of the mountains. The red and yellow salmon berry the black red and blue huckle berry, the nagoon, black currant thimble-berry, bunch-berry and a great many others.

Image credit: The Thlinget. (Sitka, Alaska), 01 June 1912. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

Dress for inclement weather. Even though the hot weather this past month has been a welcome reprieve from the overcast skies and rain, it is important to wear long sleeves and pants to protect your skin from insects and other plants. Because berry plants are often near water, Xtratuf boots or shoes that are waterproof are a must. While Alaska does not have the abundance of poison oak and poison ivy that the Lower 48 has, we have plenty of cow parsnip. Cow parsnip is a ubiquitous plant and skin irritant that can cause rashes when brushed up against exposed skin. Additionally, the sap from cow parsnip can render skin photosensitive and can cause sunburns.

Alaska: Its Resources and Possibilities: The Alaska strawberry is sui generis: it has a delicacy of flavor which its brother of the south lacks, or has lost. It is large, it is luscious, and it leaves a lingering regret behind- a regret that it is not a perennial. And then there is the wild raspberry, richer in flavor by far than that of southern climes; and nowhere can you find a blueberry that appeals to the palate, as does the blueberry of the Alaska wilds. Then the great red and yellow salmon berries make the woods in late summer a place of beauty, and the fruit a joy that can be 'preserved' for winter. The black currant which also grows in profusion, makes the finest of jellies and that kind of wine that maketh the heart glad, of the sourdough or chechako. Besides all these may be had for the gathering the high and low-bush cranberries, unexpecelled the world over.

Image credit: The Alaska daily empire. (Juneau, Alaska), 01 Jan. 1915. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

Be patient- and have a full tank of gas! It can be frustrating to search for berries and come up empty. Once-reliable spots can become picked over, and it can take some driving around to find another berry hot spot. Asking around longtime residents can be useful, but some can be unwilling to divulge prized locations. Checking around online and on social media are good ways to gauge decent areas for berries.

Berries of all kinds are abundant this year and berry parties are just the style nowadays. the red and yellow Salmon berry is just in its prime, while the blue berries of several different kinds are everywhere.
Image credit: The Thlinget. (Sitka, Alaska), 01 Aug. 1911. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

And lastly,

Plan for the worst and hope for the best. Among the useful items to pack are insect repellent, calamine lotion, sunscreen, water, a hat, a rainproof jacket, toilet paper, a bag for trash, granola bars, towels, a guide to wild berries and roadside plants in Alaska, and, of course, a container for holding berries (ideally one with a lid).

Happy picking- and stay safe!

Close-up photo of red and yellow salmonberries in a plastic container.

Image taken by the author.