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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]


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Boris Chertok, nonagenarian, and Sputnik, quinquagenarian

It’s pretty amazing to have outlived the Soviet Union and been able to recall how science is actually conducted (gosh, it’s a human activity!)

Boris Chertok, Oct 2006 photo click photo to view Voice of America article

the first artificial satellite in space was a spur-of-the-moment gamble driven by the dream of one scientist, whose team scrounged a rocket, slapped together a satellite and persuaded a dubious Kremlin to open the Space Age.

And that winking light that crowds around the globe gathered to watch in the night sky? Not Sputnik at all, as it turns out, but just the second stage of its booster rocket, according to Boris Chertok, one of the founders of the Soviet space program.

Chertok couldn’t whisper a word about the project through much of his lifetime. His name, and that of Sergei Korolyov, the chief scientist, were a state secret. Today, at age 95 and talking to a small group of reporters in Moscow, Chertok can finally speak about his pivotal role in the history of space exploration.

“Each of these first rockets was like a beloved woman for us,” he said. “We were in love with every rocket; we desperately wanted it to blast off successfully. We would give our hearts and souls to see it flying.” …

The satellite, weighing just 184 pounds, was built in less than three months. Soviet designers built a pressurized sphere of polished aluminum alloy with two radio transmitters and four antennas. An earlier satellite project envisaged a cone shape, but Korolyov preferred the sphere.

“The Earth is a sphere, and its first satellite also must have a spherical shape,” Chertok, a longtime deputy of Korolyov, recalled him saying. […]

I hope the story stays up on the news site. It is an interesting read.


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Alphabetical listing (mas o menos)

2003 what the City’s intentions are

2004 Nursing Homes: what LTC providers learned from battling four hurricanes

2004- Elderly in Florida at risk in every hurricane season

2006 AI/AN data report from US Census 2000

2006 National Adult Day Services Week

A push for stay-at-home healthcare

A say in one’s or other’s life?

AARP Bulletin: Blogosphere 101

AGS Foundation for Health in Aging

AMERICAN INDIAN AND ALASKA NATIVE LONG TERM CARE CONFERENCE 2006

Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity Awards

Activism At All Ages

Activity and exercise

Administration on Aging Pandemic Preparation

Administration on Aging Region X: AK, ID, OR, WA

After Katrina, transplanted Creoles vow to keep culture alive

Age at retirement and long term survival of an industrial population BMJ

Age by decade

Continue reading ‘Alphabetical listing (mas o menos)’

Nonagenarian inventor of instant ramen

from Boing-Boing

RIP Momofuku Ando, inventor of instant ramen

Ando noodles

Momofuku Ando, the man who invented instant ramen and founded Nissin Foods, died Friday of heart failure at 96 years of age.

Ando was inspired to develop the instant noodle after coming upon a long line of people on a cold night shortly after World War II waiting to buy freshly made ramen at a black market food stall, according to Nissin. The experience convinced him that “Peace will come to the world when the people have enough to eat,” it said.’

Link to Sydney Morning Herald,

BBC http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6237013.stm

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John Huston movie from the Aleutians

re:

“”Report from the Aleutians,” directed by John Huston, follows the daily life of American soldiers serving in the Aleutian Islands, which extend in sequence off the shores of Alaska. Despite being cold, barren, and generally disagreeable, the Aleutians held military bases of immense strategic value in the Pacific theater of World War II. The film describes the geographic importance of the islands, and provides a portrait of daily wartime operations, such as attack planning and bombing raids, that take place at the bases. Huston pays particular attention to life on the island of Adak in the wake of the Battle of Dutch Harbor, culminating in a first-person perspective of an actual American bombing run against the Japanese.

Producer: John Huston Audio/Visual: sound, color
Creative Commons license: Public Domain


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