Picturing Alaska history : USA territory to statehood

Turner Publishing (http://www.turnerpublishing.com) asked if I would consider reviewing a new book. I’m glad I agreed. Historic Photos of Alaska has just been published, a large format book of black and white photographs from the period 1867 to 1979. Dermot Cole, long-time columnist for the Fairbanks Daily Newsminer, provides the text and captions.

As a journalist, Dermot also has an interest in history (apart from his twin brother, Terrance, history professor at University of Alaska Fairbanks). Dermot Cole is the author of Amazing Pipeline Stories published by Epicenter Press in 1997, about the people and Fairbanks during the Alaska oil pipeline construction.

The perspective of Historic Photos of Alaska, is for those readers outside Alaska. That is, this is a pictorial history of Alaska as part of “America”. [Through no fault of this book, many in the US will still consider Alaska as a foreign body, along with New Mexico.]

The photos are arranged by time periods, from purchase to statehood– 1867-1905, 1906-1919, 1920-1940, and 1941-1979. These periods represent significant periods of US and Alaska relations. The orientation is a deliberate effort to stand apart from the usual Alaskana picture books. Another significant difference in this book is the choice of rarely seen photos and not the ubiquitous ones. The photos are reproduced with sufficient quality to review again and again and see something new each time.

Readers can follow themes such as regional changes (southeast Alaska also known as the Northwest Coast compared to Nome in northwest Alaska) and transportation. However, other themes can be chosen by readers according to personal interest.

    Dogs
    Most of the dogs are Alaska huskies (freight variety), such as ones on pages 44 and 55 and in harness, page 58. However, the team on page 67 is actually part of a Saami family (reindeer herders originally from Scandinavia. Note the hats and boot toes.) The harness setup is very different from that of the Eskimo family team on page 128. There are also sporting dogs (early 20th century conformation) such as the one on page 92 belonging to Jim Haly. Look carefully. The dog has just spotted another dog out of view, and kicked up a cloud of dust with his hind legs.

    Electric trees
    Even on the frozen tundra of Nome (page 111) and sprouting ever more branches over time in populated areas such as Cordova page 120 and Fairbanks page 151.

    Military
    One way to trace the influence of the military in Alaska is through men’s hats in the photos. Since Territorial days, the military has been a significant economic and development force in Alaska. Much of the early geological studies and geodetic surveys were military. World War II and then the Cold War continued the inflow of money and people. Photos from pages 168 to 180 show differing aspects of building the Al-Can or Alaska Highway and the later battles of Attu and the Aleutians. (see related posts here on the Al-Can and the Aleutians, http://theelderlies.wordpress.com/special-projects/photo-index-cking-wwii/)

    Miscellany
    Everywhere. The curiosity of Edwardian women’s fashion in open-air fish camp (useful against mosquitoes I suppose); the plank streets (for cars and horses) 400 miles from the nearest highway; even a Piggly-Wiggly store outside of the South.

Dermot Cole avoided the shop worn stash of Alaska photos. However, the next to last photo, page 197, is of the oil pipeline’s zigzagged engineering (to avoid temperature stresses) up the North Slope and over the Brooks Mountain Range. It’s a clever homage to the iconic Klondike gold rush photo of the future miners traipsing up the Chilkoot Pass.

I do have some quibbles with the book. There is an amazing variety of horses depicted but no photos of cows at Creamer’s Dairy in Fairbanks (I like the image of the wood stove chimney peeking out the milk truck to keep contents from freezing at 40 below).

More importantly, an outline map of Alaska is needed, with the places of photos identified.

The southwest of Alaska is mostly excluded. Considering that most folks in or outside Alaska believe everyone lives in an Eskimo igloo, it would also be helpful to include a map of languages/cultural regions in the state. Most readers will not be aware of the significance of the temporary, river going, hide boat depicted on page 44 built by the Athabascan Indian trapper to bring his skins to market. Compare with the more permanent skin boat built by Iñupiat Eskimo marine hunters on page 103. I already noted the Saami family.

The period of the first half of 1919 is missing although extremely important in the demography and history of non-urban Alaska. Upwards of 80% to 100% of people in some communities died during the pandemic of the “Spanish Flu”. The Jesse Lee Home (I ran across this recently published history) was one of several that cared for orphans left behind (those that survived long enough for help to reach them).

A suggested reading list would be nice, including Steven Langdon’s 1993. The Native People of Alaska. Anchorage, AK : Greatland Graphics. ISBN: 0936425172 9780936425177 OCLC: 27405205

A great companion volume would be John S. Whitehead’s 2004. Completing the Union: Alaska, Hawaii, and the Battle for Statehood. Albuquerque : University of New Mexico Press. ISBN: 0826336361 9780826336361 082633637X 9780826336378, OCLC: 55665367

This book is not supposed to be a comprehensive pictorial history. Cole did an amazing job just to make a selection from all the possibilities and put together such an enjoyable book.


——————-
[Dermot Cole. 2008 Historic Photos of Alaska. Nashville: Turner Publishing Co.
# ISBN-10: 1596524243
# ISBN-13: 978-1596524248
# LoC 2007938665
Hardcover: 216 pages, Language: English, Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 10.1 x 1 inches, list price $39.95]


Site Search Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About these ads

2 Responses to “Picturing Alaska history : USA territory to statehood”


  1. 1 vuee 2008 April 11 at 10:24 am

    One way to increase one’s enjoyment of this book– and to share with someone else with visual impairments– is to describe the photos to someone else. (One of the 4-H kids on page 156 has Argyle socks. When did you last wear Argyle socks?)

  2. 2 vuee 2008 April 11 at 9:59 pm

    Now that you are looking at Alaska historic photos, perhaps you can identify these at the state library–
    “Alaska Historical Collection’s Mystery Photos”

    http://alaskastatelibrary.blogspot.com/


Comments are currently closed.



O’Folks (off their rocker)

Old age isn't a disease.

Arctic sunset

© header image

Comments how-tos

For those new to blogs, check out this post *commenting on blogs* Recent comments, on the sidebar blogroll, often have additional or complementary information. Recent revisions of posts themselves may be found by using the search box for "revised". Tech support says spam (ads or worse) is hitting WordPress heavily so if you don't see your comment in 24 hours, send an E-mail and TS will check the spam trap.

a

RSS Nonagenarian news

  • Actor Bill kerr dies age 92 - Telegraph.co.uk
    Telegraph.co.ukActor Bill kerr dies age 92Telegraph.co.ukActor Bill Kerr who starred in Doctor Who and Hancock's Half Hour has died at the age of 92. The Australian star, known as the boy from Wagga Wagga, became one of Tony Hancock's radio sidekicks in the 1950s. He moved to the UK in 1947 and went on to ...Australian actor and war veteran Bill Ke […]
  • Richard Attenborough, acclaimed actor-director, dies at age 90 - WJLA
    WJLARichard Attenborough, acclaimed actor-director, dies at age 90WJLABaby-faced as a young actor and whitely bearded in his older age, Attenborough - warmly known as "Dickie Darling" - presided over six decades of British moviemaking as both an actor and filmmaker with a genial warmth that endeared him to his fans and ...Oscar-Winning Gandhi direc […]
  • John G. Sperling, University of Phoenix founder, dies at age 93 - Washington Post
    WDIV DetroitJohn G. Sperling, University of Phoenix founder, dies at age 93Washington PostJohn G. Sperling, a former history professor who founded the for-profit University of Phoenix and oversaw its growth into a colossal higher education business central to debates over student debt and government regulation, died Aug. 22 at a hospital in ...University of […]
  • University of Phoenix founder John Sperling dead at age 93 - The Register-Guard
    Willamette WeekUniversity of Phoenix founder John Sperling dead at age 93The Register-GuardThis undated photo provided by the Apollo Education Group shows John G. Sperling, founder of the Univertsity Of Phoenix. Sperling, 93, a billionaire, died Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, at a hospital near San Francisco, according to a statement from Apollo ...Little change exp […]
  • Reverend Calvin Crump, age 90 - stjoechannel.com
    Reverend Calvin Crump, age 90stjoechannel.comThe Reverend Calvin Crump, age 90, went home to be with his Lord on August 18, 2014 after a brief illness. Reverend Cooper was the Associate Pastor of Grassland Heights Baptist Church in Franklin, Tennessee from 1994 to the present. He was preceded ...
  • UGA legend Dan Magill dies at age 93 - georgia.247sports.com (blog)
    WXIA-TVUGA legend Dan Magill dies at age 93georgia.247sports.com (blog)UGA athletics legend Dan Magill passed away Saturday at the age of 93, according to the university. Magill was truly a historic figure, with accomplishments ranging from Georgia's tennis program to athletics as a whole. The Banner-Herald does a nice ...Former Georgia tennis coach Dan […]
  • Ruth Annette Burke Ford, age 92, ofFayetteville - The Citizen.com
    Ruth Annette Burke Ford, age 92, ofFayettevilleThe Citizen.comMrs. Ruth Annette Burke Ford, age 92, of Redwine Road, Fayetteville, Ga., died Wednesday, August 20. A memorial service was held at 4 p.m. Saturday, August 23, at Covenant Presbyterian Church, Fayetteville, Ga., with the Rev. James F. Lambert officiating.
  • Sam Hunter, American Historian of Modern Art, Dies at Age 91 - Broadway World
    Sam Hunter, American Historian of Modern Art, Dies at Age 91Broadway WorldSam Hunter, an American historian of modern art, has died at the age of 91 in Princeton, NJ. He was emeritus professor of art history at Princeton University. A native of Springfield, Massachusetts, Hunter graduated from Williams College in 1943. He ...
  • Capt. James "Buster" Denney passes away at age 93 - ABC NEWS 4
    Capt. James "Buster" Denney passes away at age 93ABC NEWS 4MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) – A Mount Pleasant man who helped bring the Yorktown to its home in the harbor in the 1970s has passed away. In 1976, Capt. James "Buster" Denney led 10 tug boats and the Yorktown through the Charleston Harbor.
  • Welcome. Saturday Night Live Announcer Don Pardo Dies at Age 96 - IGN - IGN
    TheChronicleHerald.caWelcome. Saturday Night Live Announcer Don Pardo Dies at Age 96 - IGNIGNBy Anthony CoutoThe voice behind Saturday Night Live's iconic intro -- announcer Dominick "Don" Pardo -- has passed away at age 96. According to TVLine, Pardo served as the announcer for Saturday Night Live every season (except the seventh), making ... […]
April 2008
M T W T F S S
« Mar   May »
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930  

Haeremai Camai Bula Bepuwave Bienvenidos

  • 123,265 visitors

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: