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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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Elder Abuse hot lines are very cold (USA)

THE ELDER Justice Act http://www.projo.com/news/content/ELDER_ABUSE_HOTLINE_12-16-07_AP81P46_v87.1bd52f8.html

Response to Elder Abuse Varies Widely Across U.S.
Dec 17, 2007 — Providence Journal, (RI), article tells how the nation’s safety net for seniors is not nearly as good as it is for children, and even though most states have mandatory reporting laws for elder abuse, fewer than half of them have statewide, 24-hour-a-day hot lines to record complaints and offer immediate response.

from RAC
This e-mail and the RAC Health listserv are a service of the Rural Assistance Center. The RAC is not responsible for the availability or content of these web sites. For additional services and information, see the RAC web site at http://www.raconline.org

Disability across the Socioeconomic Spectrum (USA, NEJM)

The complete article is on-line (free!). It might seem obvious that poorer older people have lesser physical function than those better off, but the article discusses early work history, smoking, education, and earlier age at death also.

Gradient of Disability across the Socioeconomic Spectrum in the United States
Meredith Minkler, Dr.P.H., Esme Fuller-Thomson, Ph.D., M.S.W., and Jack M. Guralnik, M.D., Ph.D. New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 355:695-703, August 17, 2006 , Number 7

ABSTRACT

Background: Although the relationship between extreme poverty and poor health among older adults has long been recognized, less attention has been devoted to investigating whether a gradient in disability exists in the United States among persons with middle-class and upper-class incomes. We attempted to determine whether a gradient in functional limitation exists across the full spectrum of income among persons 55 years of age or older.

Methods: We obtained data from the Census 2000 Supplementary Survey, which used the methods and questionnaire of the American Community Survey, a nationally representative survey of 890,698 households with a response rate of 95 percent. Our sample included 149,000 men and 186,675 women who were at least 55 years of age, of whom 32,680 men and 48,111 women reported having a functional limitation (a long-lasting condition that substantially limited one or more basic physical activities, such as climbing stairs or lifting).

Results: A social-class gradient was observed for both men and women between the ages of 55 and 84, a gradient that held true even at the upper rungs of the socioeconomic ladder. For example, in comparison to persons between the ages of 55 and 64 who lived at 700 percent of the poverty line or above, persons of the same age but below the poverty line had six times the odds of reporting a functional limitation. With increasing income, the odds ratio declined. A significant gradient was present up to, but not beyond, the age of 85 years.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that functional limitation in Americans between the ages of 55 and 84 years is inversely related to social class across the full spectrum of the socioeconomic gradient.

http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/355/7/695?query=TOC


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World Usability Day

World Usability Day is a project of UPA – Usability Professionals’ Association: promoting usability concepts and techniques worldwide. Human Factors International is the title sponsor for World Usability Day.

“Why doesn’t this work right? What am I supposed to do with this now?”

World Usability Day, November 3, 2005, is for everyone who’s ever asked these questions.

This Earth-Day-style event, focused on easy-to-use technology, currently involves plans in more than 70 cities in 30 countries.

World Usability Day promotes the value of usability engineering, user-centered design,and every user’s responsibility to ask for things that work better. The Usabililty Professionals’ Association is doing that by encouraging, organizing, and sponsoring 36 hours of activities at the local level around the globe, all occurring on November 3, 2005.

http://worldusabilityday.org/


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Usability awards are just a start

read here http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4392278.stm
see also
Silver Surfer’s Day
Help the Aged
Office of National Statistics
Graham’s site
Reading Chaucer
World Usability Day


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