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, https://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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Categories

RSS Nonagenarian news

  • Mormon Governing Body Leader Boyd K. Packer dies at 90 - Wall Street Journal
    Wall Street JournalMormon Governing Body Leader Boyd K. Packer dies at 90Wall Street JournalHe was 90. Mr. Packer died Friday afternoon at his home in Salt Lake City from natural causes, church spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a statement. He was next in line to become president of the Salt Lake City-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day ...LDS Church ann […]
  • Face Of Jaxson's Ice Cream Passes Away At Age 93 - Rise Miami News
    Rise Miami NewsFace Of Jaxson's Ice Cream Passes Away At Age 93Rise Miami NewsGolstein worked full time at Jaxson's until just a few years ago- when he turned 90. “If we had allowed him to work 7 days a week, open to close, he would have,” Smith said. Golstein was known for always being full of energy and often times would be ...
  • Mary Scott, wife of NASCAR Hall of Famer, dies at age 91 - GoDanRiver.com
    GoDanRiver.comMary Scott, wife of NASCAR Hall of Famer, dies at age 91GoDanRiver.comIn this 2013 file photo, Wendell Scott Sr.'s family celebrates Danville Mayor Sherman Saunder's proclamation that April 5 is dedicated as Wendell Scott Day. Posted: Friday, July 3, 2015 10:45 am. Mary Scott, wife of NASCAR Hall of Famer, dies at age 91 ...and more » […]
  • D-Day veteran, Los Gatos resident Ken Bull dies at age 90 - San Jose Mercury News
    D-Day veteran, Los Gatos resident Ken Bull dies at age 90San Jose Mercury NewsSAN JOSE -- Ken Bull loved his D-Day hat. He even wore it at the assisted-care facility in San Jose where he had been living since last November. And in his room there was a small American flag that he sometimes would stand before and salute. "It was ...and more »
  • Former Chemung County Historian Passes Away at Age 94 - My Twin Tiers.com
    My Twin Tiers.comFormer Chemung County Historian Passes Away at Age 94My Twin Tiers.comFormer Chemung County Historian Passes Away at Age 94. Katlyn Smith. 07/03/2015 08:12 AM. 07/03/2015 08:28 AM. Former Chemung County Historian Passes Away at Age 94. 07/03/2015 08:28 AM. ELMIRA, N.Y. (18 NEWS) - People in Chemung County ...
  • Last Hukbalahap commander dies, age 92 - ABS CBN News
    Last Hukbalahap commander dies, age 92ABS CBN NewsSimeona Punsalan-Tapang, known as Kumander Guerrero, passed away on June 30 at the age of 92. HUK's Supremo (chief commander) Luis Taruc once described Tapang as a big-bodied woman with a man's strength who was adept at handling automatic ...
  • Jack Carter who became an early TV comedy pioneer dies age 93 - Daily Mail
    Daily MailJack Carter who became an early TV comedy pioneer dies age 93Daily MailJack Carter whose rapid-fire delivery helped him become a comedy star in the early days of television has died aged 93. The New York City native died on Sunday of respiratory failure at his home in Beverly Hills, California. Carter had turned age 93 ...
  • TV comedy pioneer Jack Carter dies at age 93 - NOLA.com
    NOLA.comTV comedy pioneer Jack Carter dies at age 93NOLA.comIn this Nov. 16, 1960, file photo, Jack Carter, the American comedian who can turn his hand to singing and dancing as well as cracking jokes, shows an expression from his amazing repertoire at the Pigalle Theater restaurant in London. (AP Photo, File).Comedian and Broadway Star Jack Carter Has Died […]
  • At age 93, Richtand still holds court in tennis - Buffalo News
    Buffalo NewsAt age 93, Richtand still holds court in tennisBuffalo NewsWhen I asked Richtand if he still serves and volleys at the age of 93, he replied with tongue in cheek, “On occasion when I do serve and volley I sometimes make it to the service line.” Even though Richtand has played tennis for more than 80 years, he ...
  • Walsh, Sister Julitta, CSJ, age 92, of St. Paul - Swift County Monitor
    Walsh, Sister Julitta, CSJ, age 92, of St. PaulSwift County MonitorWalsh, Sister Julitta, CSJ, age 92, of St. Paul, died at Carondelet Village on Tuesday, June 30, 2015. She was preceded in death by her parents, Julia Longman and Francis Walsh; her siblings and their spouses, Joe (Irma), Mary (Irv) Helgeson, Jim (Ann ...
April 2008
M T W T F S S
« Mar   May »
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930  

Haeremai Camai Bula Bepuwave Bienvenidos

  • 128,992 visitors

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: