Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Exploring Juneau's Evergreen Cemetery

We help people from around the world find information about their Alaskan ancestors, so we're always looking for tools for genealogy searches. One new resource that we're really excited about is the Evergreen Cemetery digital map.
A frosty morning at Evergreen Cemetery. Many of the headstones have sunk into the ground and are difficult to decipher.

Evergreen Cemetery is the final resting place of 8,000 Juneau residents, including notables like founders Richard Harris and Joe Juneau, civil rights activist Elizabeth Peratrovich, baker China Joe, and photographers Lloyd Winter and Percy Pond. Until now, finding a grave in Evergreen Cemetery meant wandering around the grassy hillside, hoping that the grave you were looking for actually had a headstone. I recently spent the better part of an hour squinting at the old 1986 cemetery survey, trying to help a patron find the grave of one of Juneau's first pharmacists, William Britt, and wishing for a resource like the Evergreen Cemetery digital map.

The new map allows you to type in a name and view the grave's location, as well as surrounding graves and other landmarks to help you find it in the cemetery. Although some of the names are still being reviewed, the majority are easily searchable by first or last name. The software includes a feature to show photos of the grave, the person, and the funeral record. Although these images are not currently available, they may be added in the future. Some images are available on findagrave.com, a crowd-sourced headstone photo website.
The site of Elizabeth Peratrovich's grave in Evergreen Cemetery. The colored zones show the different sections of the cemetery.

We're happy to add this resource to our genealogy toolkit and hope it helps genealogists fill in pieces of their family trees!

Read more:

Friday, November 6, 2015

Women Veterans Day in Alaska

Although November 11 is the Veterans Day that many Alaskans will have off next week, November 9 is Women Veterans Day in Alaska, by order of Alaska Statute 44.12.078. Established in 2000, Women Veterans Day was created to "acknowledge and commemorate the sacrifices endured and valor displayed by American women veterans and to recognize their increasing role in the military."

Even before Alaska was a state, women were serving in the United States military. From 1942 to 1944, more than a thousand women served as Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), playing an important role testing aircraft and ferrying planes and supplies to bases around the country, including in Alaska. When the WASPs were recognized for their service with a Congressional Gold Medal in 2010, three Alaska women veterans were among them: Ellen Campbell of Juneau and Virginia Wood and Nancy Baker of Fairbanks.
Congressional Gold Medal ceremony in honor of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, March 10, 2010. Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony by Nancy Pelosi, CC BY

Today, Alaska is the U.S. state with the highest concentration of women veterans in its population (Source: U.S. Department of Labor). There are more than 11,000 women veterans living in Alaska (Source: U.S. Department of Labor). Nearly half of Alaskan vets of both genders served in the Gulf War era and 17% of Alaska's veterans are 20-34 years old (Source: Washington Post). Young women in the military are changing the face of Alaska's veteran population.
Pictured from left to right: Brig. Gen. Deborah McManus, Capt. Allison Snow, Staff Sgt. Christina Cordes, Capt. Laura Grossman, and Maj. Krista Staff. Alaska Guard forms first all-female aircrew by The National Guard.

This Women Veterans Day, we thank Alaska's women veterans for their service and recognize their essential contributions to Alaskan and U.S. military history.

Learn more:

Friday, October 30, 2015

Resources for the 3rd special session of the 29th Alaska Legislature

The Alaska State Legislature's third special session this year is on the Alaska gasline.  Both the Governor's Office and the State Legislature provide some helpful resources that can bring you up to speed and help you keep track of developments during the special session.

From the Governor's Office

Information on the special session has been gathered in one location: http://gov.alaska.gov/Walker/priorities/gasline-special-session.html. This page includes links to press conferences on the topic, the original and amended proclamations, SB3001 and HB3001, reports, and more.

From the Legislature

The State Legislature has some great tools available for accessing current and archived information and for tracking legislation.  These are available during any session, but it's a little easier to track bills now, since there are only two: HB3001 and SB3001.

Alaska News

Did you know that all Alaska residents with internet access have tools for tracking and accessing the full text of new articles on just about any subject?  Most of the SLED Databases include options for tracking your searches.  To track news about the special session, I did a simple search on the gasline and the special session in Newspaper Source Plus.  You can do your own by going to the A-Z listing of SLED Databases at http://lam.alaska.gov/databases/a_z. Select Newspaper Source Plus (or, if you're not looking specifically for news, select another), and do the search you want.  Apply any limiters.  When you get your results, click on the Share icon, and choose your preferred option for updates.

Unfortunately, many Alaskan newspapers are not included in this resource, but all is not lost!  If you're an employee of the State of Alaska, contact us here at the Alaska State Library.  We have access to additional databases and would be happy to set up an alert for you.  If you're not a State of Alaska employee, or if you want more immediate gratification, try setting up a Google Alert.  Do your search on Google.  When you get your results, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and select the Create alert button.
Then, click on Show options.
Make sure that the options reflect your interests and that the correct email is listed.  The results usually include full text, but sometimes access to is may be limited by a paywall.  You can usually get these articles for free, though, through interlibrary loan, so check with your local library.

Do you have any other tips for tracking Alaska legislative information?  If they're free to Alaskans, please share them in the comments.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Incorporating a museum reference collection

Before the Alaska State Museum was demolished in 2014, its reference collection of over 2000 books, periodicals, videos, and other resources was boxed up and stored at the Alaska State Library. The Museum has not had a dedicated librarian for many years, so management of the reference library had been neglected for some time.
Seventy-four boxes contained the Museum reference collection, which has been stored in the Alaska State Library for nearly two years.

As part of the integration of the State Library, Archives, and Museum, the Museum's reference collection will be managed by the Alaska State Library in the new Kashevaroff SLAM. In order to integrate this collection, we've been inventorying it, updating records, and repairing, re-covering, or applying Mylar jackets to make them shelf-ready.

Although this capsule collection will not circulate, anyone will be able to look at it in the library, and many of the books are also available in the Library's circulating collection. SLAM visitors will be able to delve further into topics that they encounter in the Museum's exhibits, and this collection will be a first stop for resources about Alaska's history, art, and cultures.
A word cloud of the titles and authors of the Museum reference collection.
What kind of books are in this collection? As you can see from the word cloud above, "Alaska" is the common theme, but books about museums, exhibitions, Alaska Native people, and history are well represented. Although it doesn't show up in the word cloud, there is also a significant natural history section with books about the plants, animals, and geology of Alaska, Canada, and the Arctic.

Preparing this collection has broadened my perspective about what's covered by the Alaska State Museum's exhibits and artifact collections. Many of the books in this reference collection were donated by staff or volunteers who felt that they were particularly valuable or interesting, so in many ways it is a user-curated collection. We look forward to making it available in the Kashevaroff State Library, Archives, and Museum when we move next year.

Friday, October 16, 2015

What's the difference between a proclamation, a resolution, and an act?

On Monday, Governor Walker issued a proclamation recognizing October 12, 2015 as Indigenous Peoples Day. There was much fanfare in the press about Alaska being the first state to reclaim Columbus Day for Native people. And then Anne Hillman of Alaska Public Media pointed this out:
So what is a proclamation? The governor can issue proclamations to recognize days, weeks, or months for a single year, often at the request of his constituents (http://gov.alaska.gov/Walker/contact/constituent-relations/proclamations.html). Governor Walker has issued nearly 100 of these, including Bear Awareness Month (March 2015), Auctioneers Day (April 18, 2015), and Archives Month (October 2015). You can see them all at http://gov.alaska.gov/Walker/press-room/proclamation-archive.html. Some of the proclamations are required by Alaska statute, like Alaska Territorial Guard Day (October 18) or Dutch Harbor Remembrance Day (June 3). Proclamations can also be used to call special legislative sessions, like Governor Walker did on April 27.
The executive proclamation declaring that October 2015 is Archives Month.

Similarly, the Alaska state legislature can create awareness days, weeks, or months for the current or upcoming year through concurrent resolutions, which "reflect the will, wish, view or decision of both houses speaking concurrently," according to the Uniform Rules. In 2015, the legislature passed resolutions like Sexual Assault Awareness Month (April 2015), Alaska School Choice Week (January 24-30, 2016), and Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Action Day (April 19, 2015). Concurrent resolutions are easier to pass than bills. They don't require three readings, committee referrals, or the governor's signature; they only need to pass with a majority in each house.
Resolutions like these are the legislature's way of recognizing a special day, week, or month for a single year.

In order to make one of these special designations stick, the legislature has to pass a bill that becomes part of the Alaska Statutes. These bills are subject to legislative procedures outlined in the Alaska Constitution, which is a more rigorous process than passing a concurrent resolution. In 2015, the legislature passed four of these acts: Alaska Law Enforcement Officers' Day (January 9), Great Alaska Good Friday Earthquake Remembrance Day (March 27), Alaska Firefighters' Day (the Sunday before October 9), and Children's Day (second Sunday in June). These will get added to the previously created special days in the Alaska Statutes, Title 44, Section 12.
New observances get added to the Alaska Statutes once they pass the legislature and are recognized forever (or until the legislature votes to repeal them).