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DBAA: Alaska’s Digital Archives

Our next stop on the Alaska page of the State Agency Databases Across the Fifty States Project is:

Alaska’s Digital Archive – Multiagency database managed by the Alaska State Library. Rich collection of media including photographs, video, and audio.

Although I put this under Department of Education and Early Development because of the State Library’s role in it, this is a consortial project, whose partners are listed as follows in the site’s FAQs:

Alaska State Library Historical Collections

A presence in Alaska since 1891, Alaska State Library’s Historical Collections is mandated by statute to collect and preserve Alaska’s history. The Collections’ Territorial, State, Russian American, Native language and primary source materials form a major reference and research repository, an information center for state government and a comprehensive visual portrait of the State.

University of Alaska Fairbanks

The University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Alaska and Polar Regions Collections contain one of the world’s largest collections of historic photographs, manuscripts, moving images, rare books, maps, oral histories, and printed materials pertaining to Alaska and the Polar regions. Spanning six centuries, the materials document a wide variety of topics including politics, religion, the Alaska Gold Rush, settlement, Alaska Native history and culture, and Arctic social, natural, and physical sciences.  (UAF is an AA/EO employer and educational institution.)

University of Alaska Anchorage

The Archives and Manuscripts Department collects, preserves, and makes available for research records which document the social, political, cultural, and economic development of Alaska, especially that of Anchorage and South central Alaska.

Anchorage Museum of History and Art

The Anchorage Museum of History and Art at the Rasmuson Center is a world-class museum which seeks to preserve, exhibit and interpret the art and history of Alaska and the circumpolar North.

Seward Community Library Association

In memory of the founder of Seward Community Library, Viola Swetmann, the mission of the Seward Community Library Association is to support and enhance literacy in its community, provide educational opportunities through scholarships and other programs, support library functions, and encourage community-wide involvement in cultural activities for all ages.

University of Alaska Museum of the North

The Museum’s 1.4 million natural and cultural history specimens represent millions of years of biological diversity and more than 11,000 years of cultural traditions in the North. These collections provide the foundation for the Museum’s research, education and exhibition programs.

Sitka Tribal Library

Our mission is to involve our tribal youth and elders in our effort to increase our collection and the circulation of Sitka Tribal library resources within the tribal community while providing a comfortable atmosphere and an archive location for rare tribal documents, recordings and historical photographs.

The basic search at Alaska’s Digital Archives is keyword, but clicking on the advanced search provides access to a few dozen possible fields. The Archives is also browseable by institution and by format, which include albums, oral      histories, moving images, maps, documents, and physical objects.

I live on Douglas Island in Juneau, so I did a basic keyword search for “Douglas.” It brought up a number of results, including this photo of a building two buildings down from me. Looks a lot nicer in 1885 than it does now. At the time it was a store. At one point it was the Douglas Fire Hall and now it seems to be apartments.

Each record will include the digital item and the following fields:

  • Collection Name
  • Identifier
  • Title
  • Description
  • Creator
  • Subject.TGM
  • Personal Name
  • Corporate Name
  • Location
  • Region
  • Time Period
  • Type
  • Ordering & Use
  • Holding Institution

Most of the fields are hyperlinked. So using the photo example above, I could click on “stores & shops” under “Subject.TGM” and see more items relating to stores and shops, or I could have clicked on “Douglas (Alaska)” under “Location” and gotten more pictures and other items related to Douglas.

The “Ordering and Use” and “Holding Institution” links are important if you want to get permission to use an item or would like to have a higher resolution copy made. Each institution has its own policies about permissions.

Next week we’re learn how to contact school districts in Alaska.

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