UPDATE: 100,000 Pages!

Greetings, all,

The Alaska Digital Newspaper Project has reached an important milestone!
We completed production for the 2016-2018 cycle. As of this week, Alaska has compiled over 100,000 pages of newspaper metadata.

None of this would have been possible without our Newspaper Advisory Committee:

  • Chris Allan, Historian of the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, National Park Service, Fairbanks.
  • Jo Antonson, Alaska State Historian of the Office of History and Archaelogy, Anchorage.
  • Michael Blackwell, Consulting Geological Engineer and historical researcher from the Gastineau Historical Society, Juneau.
  • Christie Burke, Archivist at the Tuzzy Consortium Library, Utqiagvik (formerly Barrow).
  • Michael Carey, Editorial Columnist and former editorial page editor for the Alaska Dispatch News (formerly the Anchorage Daily News).
  • James Brooks, State Reporter for the Juneau Empire, Juneau.
  • Esther Ilusik, Southwest Region Schools Director of Yup’ik Studies, Dillingham.
  • Rebecca Moorman, Head of Technical Services at the University of Alaska, Anchorage Consortium Library.
  • David Noon, Associate Professor of History, University of Alaska Southeast.
  • Barbara Thompson, Second Vice Chair of the Alaska State Board of Education.
  • Marjorie Thompson, Digital Photographic Services Manager, Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
  • Jennifer Ward, MLIS, Associate Professor of Library and Information Science, Outreach Services Librarian, Egan Library.

What Happens Next:

Although we have reached our 100,000 page goal, production continues on the AK National Digital Newspaper Program (aka Alaska’s Digital Newspaper Project) so we can complete the last batch of the Nome Nugget up to 1923. That will give Alaska over 103,000 pages on Chronicling America.

We are in the process of re-shooting the Nome Nugget from 1913-1924. Since we found the microfilm in poor condition, we are replacing it using print volumes on hand. The print volumes originally came to the State Library via the Library of Congress.

We applied for another cycle and expect to hear back from the National Endowment for the Humanities regarding funding for the 2018-2020 cycle in August.

Newspaper titles from the last 6 batches submitted will soon be steadily appearing on Chronicling America. Titles from the last 6 batches currently pending approval:

  • Nome Nugget (and its many title variations)
  • Daily Morning Alaskan (Skagway)
  • Seward Gateway
  • Cordova Daily Times
  • The Alaska Citizen (Fairbanks)

To see titles currently available online, visit the Alaska Newspapers page on Chronicling America


Greetings from the Alaska Anthropological Association Conference!

AAA PosterLast week, National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) director Anastasia Tarmann and project coordinator Janey Thompson attended the 45th Annual Meeting of the Alaska Anthropological Association in Anchorage to spread the word about historic Alaska newspapers and progress on the project.

In addition to a poster, we prepared brochures that provided a brief overview of the project, a Chronicling America demonstration on a laptop computer, and unique microfilm bookmarks.

While talking to scholars at the table, many shared their experiences using Chronicling America to assist in their research, one of whom used the site to study changes in brand logos in advertisements over time. Additionally, a few attendees shared titles that we should consider adding to the project and offered to serve on the title selection committee.

In addition to “tabling”, we each had the opportunity to attend lectures given by conference attendees. These presentations of their papers related to the archaeology and anthropology of Alaska, with topics ranging from language revitalization, to museum exhibit design, to the excavation of hearth sites, to the affects of global warming on historic anthropological landmarks.

The Alaska Anthropological Association annual meeting gave us an opportunity to see what researchers and scholars throughout Alaska are studying, and how best our newspaper resources can assist them. Many thanks to all those who made the annual meeting possible!

AAA Conference

Parts of a Newspaper: The Front Page

In this installment of the Parts of a Newspaper series, we’ll be looking at the part most central- the front page! Contributing to this post was city reporter for the Juneau Empire, Gregory Philson, who helped shed light on differences between century-old front pages to those of today.

Below is a front page from the former Alaska Daily Empire (now the Juneau Empire) almost exactly 100 years ago, in honor of our guest:Juneau Empire 100 years ago

When encountering an older front page, one of the most striking differences to the modern reader is its sometimes-chaotic layout, such as this one below from the January 5, 1923 issue of the Seward Gateway:

Where's the story

Based on this front page, there is no clear visual “path” to the story from its headline. The main headline likely functioned to draw readers into the issue, and to then send the readers in search of the story, while taking them to the other stories. Back then, headlines needed to print every story on its front page, due to the relatively high production costs. Newspapers today typically will have one “central” story surrounded by secondary ones, which may not be as important to that day.

Looking at headlines on a more micro level, an important, if sometimes overlooked, aspect of front page design is in its typography. In addition to the way words look through typefaces, kerning (letter spacing) and letting (spacing between leaders) matters greatly. Letting should allow the reader to not have to think about how the story is physically designed and to enable the content to be understood.

To demonstrate kerning, examine the headline below from the April 21, 1918 issue of The Seward Gateway Daily Edition and The Alaska Weekly Post:

Bad Kerning

Upon first glance, it is difficult to discern the meaning of the sentence when it looks like “DOUBLEMURDERATKENAI“. Being unable to understand a headline at at quick glance is a clear issue. If the reader does not know immediately what something says, they are less likely to want to read it. Moreover, the philosophy behind proper kerning is to make the words easily read by anyone, which is the objective of any newspaper. Readers simply cannot absorb information if the words themselves are not legible.

Front pages prioritize main stories that highlight conflicts (foreign wars and domestic disputes), or people and events of note. The front page can represent a microcosm of one day in history; readers can search newspaper databases like Chronicling America just by the front page of a specific title. Whether a newspaper represents a small town or a major city, its front page often reflects the people, places, incidents, and events its readers value. A front page of a newspaper reflects a singular moment in time.

Many thanks to our guest, Gregory Philson, and the Juneau Empire, for your time and insights!


Thanksgiving Day: Rev. L. H. Pedersen Tells of Its Significance and Duties

Happy Thanksgiving from the AKDNP!  We’re thankful for the opportunity to make 100,000 pages of our historical newspapers accessible through the National Digital Newspaper Program and Chronicling America.

The following article titled “Thanksgiving Day, Rev. L.H. Pedersen Tells of Its Significance and Duties” was printed in the December 2, 1905 issue of the Seward Weekly Gateway.  In it Rev. Pedersen writes, “The best thing that hearts that are thankful can do Is this – to make thankful some other heart too.”  Here’s hoping our participation in NDNP is making all you researchers’ hearts thankful too!


“Thanksgiving Day, Rev. L. H. Pedersen Tells of Its Significance and Duties.”, The Seward weekly Gateway, December 2, 1905.


Opening Statements: The Daily Alaskan

The Opening Statement series features the foreword or introduction given by  editors or publishers in the first issue of the paper addressing its readers. 


The Morning Alaskan, February 1, 1898, Vol. 1, No. 1

Editor: O.W. Dunbar

“With this issue THE MORNING ALASKAN makes its debut before the citizens of Skaguay and the countless hordes of people who eagerly await any news pertaining to this city and the country beyond. But a few days a resident of Skaguay, and that time busily occupied, I have been unable to make the acquaintance of as many of the citizens as I would have wished, but through the MORNING ALASKAN I hope to become personally acquainted with all.  THE MORNING ALASKAN shall always be maintained as a bright, newsy sheet, with the interests of Skaguay and its enterprising citizens always uppermost in the editor’s mind.

O.W. Dunbar”

New Content: Batch II Live on ChronAm

The Alaska State Library is please to announce that the next batch of digitized historical Alaskan newspapers is now available online at chroniclingamerica.loc.gov!


New additions include:

Need some help finding what you want?  Check out our blog post Searching Chronicling America for tips!