Earthquakes in Alaska

earthquake headline

Image credit: Valdez daily prospector. (Valdez, Alaska), 08 July 1912. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

After last Friday’s 7.0 earthquake rocked Anchorage and south central Alaska, many are looking ahead to see what can be done when the next quake strikes. The quake destroyed roads and buildings and will take a great deal of time and money to recover. Yet some institutions, such as the Anchorage Public Library, have fully embraced the quake as an opportunity to educate the public on seismology and the major fault lines in the state of Alaska, and how to talk to children about earthquakes amidst the destruction.

Alaska experiences more earthquakes than any other region in the United States, approximately 12,000 each year (most of which go unnoticed due to their relatively small tremors), and account for 11% of the world’s earthquakes. Alaska’s largest earthquake on record occurred in 1964, and reached a magnitude of 9.4 on the Richter scale.

Due to this frequency, there are several news items related to earthquakes that have shaken up Alaska in its historic newspapers.


Image credit: Valdez daily prospector. (Valdez, Alaska), 08 July 1912. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

earthquake 1

Image credit: The daily Alaskan. (Skagway, Alaska), 20 Feb. 1909. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

Earthquake CDT 2-8-1923

Image credit: The Cordova daily times. (Cordova, Alaska), 08 Feb. 1923. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

Earthquake Daily Alaskan 9-24-1907

Image credit: The daily Alaskan. (Skagway, Alaska), 24 Sept. 1907. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

Earthquake Valdez Daily Prospector 1-31-1912

Image credit: Valdez daily prospector. (Valdez, Alaska), 31 Jan. 1912. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>


earthquake 2

Image credit: The daily Alaskan. (Skagway, Alaska), 19 Feb. 1909. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

earthquake 3

Image credit: The Alaska citizen. (Fairbanks, Alaska), 08 July 1912. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>


Native American History Month: Alaska Native Representation in Historic Newspapers

Please note: Photos in this post contain racist imagery and terms.

Eskimo banner

Image credit: Evening public ledger. (Philadelphia [Pa.]), 29 Sept. 1922. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

“Alaska Native” can refer to members of several different tribes including Aleut, Athabascan, Alutiiq, Haida, Inupiat, Tlingit and Yup’ik, among many others:


Image credit: University of Alaska Fairbanks

But too often in Historic Alaska newspapers, (primarily) white men and women represented Alaska Natives in ways that relied heavily on stereotypes to reduce populations of people to caricature.

The issue of Native American representation looms large, in part due to the most recent National Geographic photo essay on the prevalence of Native American imagery on a global scale, the ongoing exhibit “Americans” at the Museum of the American Indian that highlights the current and historic use of products that employ Native American imagery in everyday objects, and an essay from the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Imagery on the harmful, reductive nature of Native American stereotypes.

As a reflection of the times in which the papers were printed, writers used racial slurs or derogatory names to describe nonwhite peoples. The sheer number of pages with the highlighted epithets points to the commonplace nature discrimination against Alaska Natives. By contrast, only 3 pages contain the tribal name Tlingit, all of which reference the same advertisement, 0 pages contain Yup’ik, although there are 1424 pages that contain “Eskimo”, a pejorative term for Yup’ik and Inupiaq Alaska Natives, and one considered offensive to many members of the Inuit tribe in Canada.

In particular, the Eskimo imagery used frequently in newspaper advertisements reduces Alaska Native peoples to crude stereotypes- ones that persist in ads to this day.

Advertisers used Eskimos to sell a number of additional products. These remained particularly prevalent in papers across the Lower 48 to evoke the chilly nature of an ice cream treat or a refreshing soda, and relied on the exoticism of both the distant location and its people.


It is important to note that products used Eskimos to capitalize on indigenous imagery, while simultaneously, missionaries, businesses, and governmental agencies sought to erode the Yup’ik and Inupiaq culture and way of life.

Eskimo 2

Image credit: Evening capital news. (Boise, Idaho), 26 Nov. 1916. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

Eskimo 1

Image credit: The day book. (Chicago, Ill.), 27 May 1914. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

Cape prince of wales

Image credit: Evening capital news. (Boise, Idaho), 28 Jan. 1917. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

Although these negative stereotypes, words, and imagery with regards to Indigenous peoples exist within a historical context, it makes their abundance no less shocking and reprehensible to encounter.


Image credit: Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.), 17 Feb. 1952. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>


Image credit: Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.), 15 Sept. 1918. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

Eskimos 1

Image credit: Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.), 14 Jan. 1940. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

Some may find this parsing of terms used to describe Alaska Natives in newspapers an exercise in “PC culture” or a retroactive attempt to apply current identifiers to another, earlier time. But as stewards of history, it is the job of librarians and archivists to make these primary sources accessible to illustrate the inherent viewpoints of those who created primary sources: to call out biases that informed their worldview.

The notion of agency is key: instead of (largely) white men and women speaking on behalf of Alaska Natives, newspapers such as the Tundra Times and the New Native sought to restore Indigenous voices within the newspaper sphere. The Alaska Digital Newspaper Project is working to include these titles in the upcoming round of funding.

Tundra times masthead

Image credit: Alaska State Library Historical Collections

While there is a great deal more to be done on behalf of Alaska Native representation, the inclusion of more titles to this project is a step in the right direction.

Black Friday and Holiday Shopping: a Post-Thanksgiving Tradition

Typical Scenes as Shoppers Make Their Final Christmas Purchases. "At least one bundle is mandatory"; "Summoned by S.O.S."; "Now don't forget Santy"; Money is plentiful in the United States this year, and the stores are doing a big Christmas business. The millions in gold that have poured into this country for the purchase of war supplies have given a firm tone to all lines of trade, and all classes are preparing for a merry Christmas. Some idea of the extent of the shopping may be gained from the accompanying pictures, showing the great throng of shoppers in the centres where holiday gifts are on sale. The man or woman who does not lug a bundle or two around these days is the exception.

Image credit: The Alaska daily empire. (Juneau, Alaska), 23 Dec. 1918. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

Greetings, all!

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, many folks are hitting the shopping malls across the country to get a head start on their holiday shopping. Leafing through historic Alaska newspapers, one can find plenty of news items involving holiday shopping, too. Although Black Friday as the “busiest shopping day of the year” and unofficial start of the holiday season did not come into being until about the 1980s, shoppers anticipated a month-long window of time to buy gifts.

Read on to see how newspapers in Cordova, Juneau, and Skagway dealt with the topic of holiday shopping- and making sure its readers were able to find everything in time!


Time to do Shopping. But three weeks remain until Christmas, and the offerings of Cordova's enterprising merchants through the columns of the Daily Times should be taken advantage of by doing your shopping early, while you have the choice of articles for gifts. Under the caption of "Why Not Now," the Saturday Evening Post points out the advantage of early shopping in the following excerpt from one of its editorials on that subject: "Christmas shopping several weeks before Christmas is a pleasant adventure; a week before it is a hard trial; a day before it is a calamity. Usually it is mere laziness that puts it off. "In ten years there has been a marked change in Christmas shopping habits in cities, brought about by constant appeals to the public. Yet hundreds of thousands of employees in city shops still look forward to Christmas week pretty much as the boys in the trenches look forward to the order to charge. Among salespeople, deliverymen and bookkeepers the holiday onslaught still leaves a cyclonic trail of wrecked nerves. Like every other bad habit, once it is broken the victim wonders why he suffered from it so long. Do your Christmas shopping now and you will never again wait until near Christmas."

Image credit: The Cordova daily times. (Cordova, Alaska), 09 Dec. 1916. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

Wednesday, December 15, 1920: Christmas Shopping: Cordova stores are well stocked with pretty things for the Christmas trade and from now on the salespeople will have their energies taxed to serve the public. Don't wait until the day before the holiday to do your Christmas shopping and force the stores to remain open nights. Remember that after clerks have stood upon their feet throughout the day they are entitled to rest, and there is no greater health destroyer than overtaxing strength. Try this Christmas to co-operate in making it as light upon those who serve us as possible. It is a better Christmas spirit than to organize a rush at the eleventh hour and its consequent baleful effects.

Image credit: Image credit: The Cordova daily times. (Cordova, Alaska), 15 Dec. 1920. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

Only 28 More Shopping Days to Christmas: Juneau Residents Should Be Getting Lists Ready, Start Shopping Early. Have you begun your Christmas shopping yet? No, well there are only 28 more shopping days, do you realize that? Have you even made up your shopping list yet, put down the items you are going to get for Billie, Maggie, or Tom, Dick and Harry, mother, father, sister, or brother? The time is rolling quickly towards the big day, rolling quicker than most people imagine and when one realizes that there are only 28 more shopping days it almost takes ones breath away. The local merchants are already receiving their last Christmas shipments and soon shelves and cases will be filled with articles for gifts. Show windows will soon be decorated and the Christmas trade will be on with a rush. Local merchants, as soon as they get all of their goods unpacked, expect a good holiday trade and hope shoppers will "shop early" to relieve the inevitable grand rush of the few days before Christmas.

Image credit: The Alaska daily empire. (Juneau, Alaska), 20 Nov. 1920. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

Christmas Shopping: The thought of Christmas shopping is the thing that is under everybody's bonnet just now- or it ought to be. The stores are looking their best just now, the stocks of Christmas goods are yet comparatively complete and it is a delight to just look in upon the glint and shimmer of the show cases and the laden shelves and counters. All merchants alike declare the trade is well under way and bids fair to equal that of any holiday season in the history of Skagway.

Image credit: The daily Alaskan. (Skagway, Alaska), 17 Dec. 1908. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

Juneau Trade at Christmas Time is Good: Merchants Report Shopping Has Started Indicating People Are Prosperous. Christmas trading is starting in Juneau and all merchants report that the indications are that the holiday business will equal that of previous years and possibly exceed the business of the past two years. Merchants who do not engage at special holiday business also report excellent financial conditions in Juneau and that trading in general is splendid. W.S. Pullen, manager of the Alaska Electric Light & Power Co., stated today that the business of that house has been good during the fall and was fine at the present time with indications that the Christmas trade will be excellent. There are many new novelties in household goods of an electrical nature being displayed this year. A. J. Ficken, manager of the Frye-Bruhn Market, who recently returned from a business trip to Seattle, stated today that he was surprised at the business being done in Juneau on Thanksgiving day. "Our business has been good this year," said Mr. Ficken today, "and a trip around the Capital City will show the why for. Few men are on the streets in the day time showing that all who care to work are employed. The women folks have been busy with their Christmas sewing at home and have used the telephone for their orders. Now that the greater part of the home work is over, the women folks will start on their store shopping and the holiday season will be a busy one, I am sure. I was glad to get back to Juneau, after visiting several cities in the Pacific Northwest, for conditions here are so much better than outside, that the comparison is all in favor of Gastineau Channel." Simpson & Wright, of the Nugget Shop, report that the holiday business has started off briskly in the jewelry line. M. Michael and George E. Coury, of the Boston Store, are both well satisfied with the first spurt in the holiday trading. Christmas goods in the drug stores are moving rapidly and with shipments expected on the next steamers from the South, these will be unpacked and the goods will be displayed.

Image credit: The Alaska daily empire. (Juneau, Alaska), 04 Dec. 1920. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

Those who have not already begun to do their Christmas shopping should not put off the task another day. Merchants are displaying their Christmas goods, and those who shop now will be able to get first chance at them, at a time when they will have the time to think clearly and without the confusion and compulsion for hasty decisions that always result when you have to catch a boat with your mail. Salesmen have time now to help make your decisions. They will not have that time if you wait for the rush. Commence your shopping now.

Image credit: The Cordova daily times. (Cordova, Alaska), 13 Dec. 1919. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>


However you choose to spend your Black Friday, please do so safely!

Indigenous People’s Day

Greetings all,

Here in Alaska, today is recognized as Indigenous People’s Day. What most of the country refers to as “Columbus Day” is an affront to the cultures that have shaped North America for thousands of years.

One of the most difficult aspects of studying historical newspapers is the lack of representation these papers afforded, especially considering that Alaska is home to the largest indigenous population in the country based on total state population  With the exception of newspapers published by missionary schools, (with the focus on stripping indigenous children of their heritage) white writers of newspaper articles in Alaska treated Alaska Natives as inferior individuals and not worthy of “civilization”.


While Italian-Americans faced discrimination in the eighteenth century and the early years of the 20th century, a holiday celebrating a man responsible for the genocide and enslavement of native peoples is disingenuous. (As Marty Kelley points out, there are plenty of notable Italian-Americans worthy of celebration instead of Columbus).

Today is a day to reflect on the legacies, accomplishments, and visibility of native populations throughout the United States. In time, one hopes that Indigenous People’s Day will replace Columbus Day, as it has in Minnesota, South Dakota, and Vermont. (Here is a list of individual cities that celebrate Indigenous People’s Day).

On the Road Again: Highlights from the Annual Meeting of the National Digital Newspaper Program

Greetings, all! Fresh from our trip to the Alaska Historical Society conference in Nome, This past week, Anastasia Tarmann and I have visited Washington, D.C. this past week on behalf of the National Digital Newspaper Program annual meeting.

First stop was the National Endowment for the Humanities for the start of the conference, and to meet new NDNP staff. After communicating through email and listservs, it was great to be able to put faces to names!


At this conference, I learned a great deal from my colleagues about their day-to-day triumphs and challenges of the National Digital Newspaper Program. Insights included big data projects using Chronicling America, the creation of statewide newspaper repositories, social media endeavors, and many other developments. No matter the funding cycle, from the first-ever awardees to long-term NDNP veterans, everyone had valuable first-hand experiences and stories to share.

In addition to the presentations, roundtables, and talks given by my colleagues from all across the country, I made time to attend plenty of museums and cultural institutions. Most relevant to the NDNP were, of course, the Newseum and the Library of Congress. This incredible museum touches on the dangerous, important work that is journalism. Front pages of newspapers representing each state and territory flank the entrance out in front of the Newseum.

Outstanding exhibits included “Pulitzer at 100” with particular emphasis on prizes in photojournalism, and “1968: the Civil Rights Movement at 50”, and “Make Some Noise” which focused on student leaders of the civil rights movement. The 9/11 memorial, in which reporters and journalists covered the attack on the World Trade Center, and the memorial to all journalists killed in the line of duty were sobering reminders of the life-threatening work these brave individuals undertake as part of their jobs.

On a lighter (and local) note, the infamous “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” banner, which a group of students from Juneau-Douglas High School students created, “lives” permanently at the Newseum in their exhibit on the 5 freedoms (speech, assembly, press, petition, religion) as outlined in the Bill of Rights.

Newseum 3

On Thursday and Friday, the NDNP conference reconvened at the Madison building of the Library of Congress, just across the street from the Jefferson building with its striking interior:



Also worth noting during my trip: the National Museum of American History included a portion on how a free press helped shaped revolutionary sentiment in the American colonies. This display included an antique paper, the Virginia Gazette, along with a replica printing press:

American Hist Museum

American Hist Museum 1

American Hist Museum 2

The setting of the NDNP conference in our nation’s capital reaffirmed the importance of a non-contiguous state like Alaska’s inclusion in this project. Having heard from my colleagues, and having seen the world-class museums and institutions that Washington D.C. has to offer, I am thrilled to return to Juneau to continue the work that goes into the Alaska Digital Newspaper Project, and to be able to help make historic Alaska newspapers available on Chronicling America.

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.

Nome 1

Nome, Alaska at dusk.

Nome 2

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

Nome 9

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.

Nome 10

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

Nome 11

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!).

Nome 3

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

Nome 4

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

Nome 5

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.


Nome 7

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).