Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Naming Geographic Features

Question: How can I get a name assigned to a glacier in the United States?

Answer: Anyone may propose a name, or name change, to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN) for geographic features in the United States. The BGN is (quoting from its web site) a Federal body established to "maintain uniform geographic name usage throughout the Federal Government." BGN offers a web form and brief instructions for people who’d like to propose names at The Principles, Policies and Procedures that BGN uses in considering proposed names are published at; it would be prudent to review this document before submitting a proposal. You can learn more about the Board on Geographic Names and find information about naming geographic features outside of the United States from BGN’s web site, at

States typically also have boards or programs established to consider names for geographic features. In Alaska, the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation, Office of History and Archeology, operates a Geographic Names Program. You can find more information about the Program, and download an application to propose a name for a geographic feature in Alaska, at The Alaska Historical Commission, within the Office of History and Archeology, reviews applications and sends its recommendations to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names for final decision.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Family Records

Question: Can you assist me in finding my marriage license? I was married on a military post in Alaska in 1953.

Answer: These records are maintained by the Alaska Division of Vital Statistics. You can find information about how to request a search for a marriage certificate and/or a copy at You can email them at with any questions. This web page also includes a link to information on obtaining military records.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Alaskans With Library Cards

Question: How many Alaskans have library cards?

Answer: According to information compiled by our Library Development section, 379,206 Alaska residents had library cards in 2007. This number is subject to a few cautions according to Patience Frederiksen, our public library statistician. She notes:
One odd thing about this data is that many of the libraries do not have an online catalog and some do not give out library cards at all, so I gave those libraries their entire population as library card holders.

Another odd thing is that many of the libraries give out temporary seasonal cards to tourism, cruise ship, and fish canning and processing employees, so sometimes they give out more cards than they have residents living in their local service area.
People interested in other statistics about Alaska's libraries should check out the Alaska Public Library Statistics page at The statistics web page is under revision and the FY2006 and FY2007 statistics should appear in January.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Overseas Birth Certificate

Question: My son was born in 1966 in the Netherlands while his father was serving in the USAF in that country. I need to obtain a duplicate birth certificate of his birth. I would like to know how I go about doing this. His birth certificate was issued by the Department of State Foreign Service of the USA.

Answer: The U.S. Department of State page at indicates that "in the case of a child born overseas, the parents should apply at the American Citizens Services Unit in the country where the baby was born for a 'Consular Report of Birth Abroad,' which is the record of the birth abroad of a U.S. citizen. Under U.S. law, the document is full proof of U.S. citizenship and although not a birth certificate, may serve as a birth certificate in the U.S."

The Consulate General of the United States in Amsterdam/The Netherlands addresses "Consular Reports of Birth Abroad" on their vital statistics page at Click on the link to purchase a copy of the document. The tab at the top titled "US Citizens Born Abroad" will take you to the appropriate page for overseas birth records. The company provides guidance as to which form to use.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Fix a book

Question: Do you have Artemis BonaDea's book, "Conservation Book Repair: A training manual," which was published by the Alaska State Library, available for purchase?

Answer: The State Library no longer has paper copies of this title available for sale. However, the entire book is available online at, and the introduction specifically allows some copying:
The contents of this manual may be reprinted in whole or in part, with proper credit, to accommodate users, library board members, and personnel of libraries. Reproduction of this manual in whole or in part, for resale, except to recover actual costs, is not authorized.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Not banned books

Question: Where can I find a list of the books that Sarah Palin tried to ban from the Wasilla Public Library when she was mayor?

Answer: As far as we know, there is no such list. Fake lists have been circulating around the internet and are documented on the Urban Legends Page at

Alaskan nominees

Question: Before Gov. Sarah Palin's nomination, were any other Alaskans ever nominated for President or Vice President of the United States?

Answer: Presidential Elections Since 1789, 4th edition*, lists one previous nominee from Alaska: in 1960, Raymond L. Teague was nominated for Vice President by the Theocratic Party.

In searching for the answer to this question, I found that it was difficult to determine the home state for many of the minor party candidates, so it's possible that more Alaskans have served their country in this way.

* Congressional Quarterly, Inc. Presidential Elections Since 1789, 4th Ed., Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, 1987.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Transition Reports to the Governor

Question: I looked online for transition reports to Governor Palin and could not find them. Do you have copies that I may check out?

Answer: We have circulating copies of all of the Alaska State agency transition reports produced for Governor Palin in 2006. You find records for the entire collection here. You can search the library's catalog yourself at Search for the words "transition report governor" and limit the publication year to 2006. You should retrieve a list of sixteen reports to the Governor.

In addition, we have transition reports for previous Alaska governors going back to 1982. To generate the full list, use the search above, but leave out the Pubyear.

If you are in Juneau, you can browse the transitional reports in our Circulating collection by going to the section JK 9538. If you are outside of Juneau, you can request the reports through Interlibrary Loan at your local library.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

USS Juneau Memorial

Update: URLs checked and updated. 4/1/15

Question: The USS Juneau was hit by two Japanese long lance torpedoes on Friday on 11/13/42, one at 2:00 AM and a second one 10 hours later, completely destroying the ship. The 150 survivors out of a crew of 700 were left for eight days in shark infested waters. In the end, all but 10 of her crew were lost, including the five Sullivan Brothers. Does Juneau, Alaska have a memorial to the USS Juneau?

Answer: The City and Borough of Juneau dedicated a memorial plaque to the USS Juneau on July 5, 1987. It is located on the cruise ship dock in downtown Juneau and is # 19 on the Juneau Convention and Visitors Bureau map found online at

If you are looking for more information on the naval ship, the Alaska State Library has books, videos and vertical files with news clippings. You can contact the Alaska State Library at (907) 465-2920 or The Juneau-Douglas City Museum has a vertical file with information on each of the three of the ships bearing the name USS Juneau, including news clippings, photographs, personal narratives, log books, and dedications. The museum contact information can be found at

Friday, July 25, 2008

Alaska Commissioners of Labor 1959 - Present

Question: What were the names and terms of the Commissioners of the Alaska Department of Labor since Statehood?

Answer: See below for names and terms of office. The Alaska Department of Labor changed its name to Department of Labor and Workforce Development in 1999 as a result of ch. 58, SLA 1999.

Commissioners of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, 1959 – Present

Compiled by Daniel Cornwall, Alaska State Library
August 2007 (Updated April 2015)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Alaskan Pictures

Question: How do I get Alaska Native photographs that are available for our presentation?
Answer: There are several places where you can find photos online that might be useful for your presentation. For historical photos (and other resources), you might want to try Alaska's Digital Archive, online at This includes digitized materials from several different Alaskan repositories, including the State Library and University of Alaska.
You can find additional resources at our website on royalty free and public domain materials, online at I would recommend scrolling down the page to the Photos heading. In particular, you might try the first option, the Alaska Images Library.
Another good resource is the Alaska Photo Library from the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development, online at Many of these photos are licensed, so be sure to check for the license agreement to make sure that your use is allowed.
If you don't find what you want online, there are also some wonderful repositories within the state. Many participate with Alaska's Digital Archive, but have additional collections at their locations. You can find a list of participants with links to their copy policies and contact information at To access their photos, you may need to go to their location and there may be associated fees. If you still don't see what you want, check out the Alaska Library Directory

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Accessing Older Alaska Newspapers

Question: I am looking for an article published in a February 1966 issue of The Frontiersman.
Answer: The Alaska State Library holds microfilm of issues of The Frontiersman published in 1966. Information about our collection of Alaska Newspapers on microfilm is available at

You can place an ILL request for an article in The Frontiersman or the microfilm through your local library. Your local library then contacts us and we transmit the article or ship the film to your library for your review. We can loan up to four reels of our newspapers on microfilm to any single library at any one time.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Repeat Criminals in Alaska

Question: Where I can find information on repeat offenders in Alaska?

Answer: Here are a couple of recent reports from the Alaska Judicial Council that cover repeat offenders in the State of Alaska:

Criminal Recidivism in Alaska (January 2007)

Recidivism in Alaska's Felony Therapeutic Courts (February 2007)

Questions to ask yourself that might lead to additional resources include:

1) Whom do you consider a repeat offender? Are you looking for a certain kind of offender?
2) Is there a particular type of crime that you are interested in?

Monday, July 7, 2008

I want crab. Just for me and mine.

Question: I want to fish for crab for my own use. Can I do that?

Answer: The Fish & Game department has a page specifically about Personal Use Fisheries at: You can see 5 AAC 77.664. Personal use king crab fishery by opening the Codified Statewide Personal Use and Subsistence Fisheries Regulations on this page:

As odd as it sounds, the personal use fisheries are regulated by the Division of Commercial fisheries, so it would be best to check with the local ComFish office about permits and possible fishing closures that may take place under the regulations linked above. ComFish office locations and phone numbers can be found at

Monday, June 30, 2008

Where can I find the second verse of the Alaska Flag Song?

Question: Where I can listen to the second verse of the Alaska Flag Song? I already know where to hear the first verse and get lyrics at

Answer: The Alaska Youth Choir sang both verses for the opening session of the Alaska House of Representatives on January 14, 2002. Their song can be found on this archived audio file from Gavel to Gavel:

The song with two verses can be found on this file from 7 min 41 sec TO 10 min 16 sec. We have not found a stand-alone recording of both verses of the song. If you are aware of an online version of both verses, please leave a comment.

Monday, June 23, 2008

How do I make a FOIA request?

Question: What government form do I use to make a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request of the federal government?

Answer: There is no one standard FOIA form good for all agencies. While all federal executive agencies are required to comply with FOIA, they are allowed to have different procedures for accepting requests. Many agencies will accept a letter written in a specific format. You can see sample letters at the University of Missouri School of Journalism at You can generate your own FOIA request letter if you are willing to fill out an online form using the FOI Letter generator at

Depending on what you're looking for, you might not need a FOIA request. For example, if you're looking for Albert Einstein's FBI record, just visit the FBI's Electronic Reading Room at Many other agencies have FOIA electronic reading rooms. For a selection,
please visit

For more information on the Freedom of Information Act, please see the "FOIA primer" from the National Security Archive at

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Alaska Statehood Celebrations!

Update: Links in this post were updated on 10/10/14. The Juneau Empire and Anchorage Daily News (now Alaska Dispatch News) no longer have dedicated pages for Alaska Statehood, but you can find articles by searching their archives.

Question: I read somewhere that people who were in Alaska 50 years ago could contribute stories for the Alaska Statehood celebrations. Do you know where we can share these?

Answer: The Alaska Statehood Celebration Commission links to sites from the Anchorage Daily News and the Juneau Empire, along with others. Both of these newspaper sites solicit stories, photos and more.

In addition to information about how to share your perspective of Alaska history, the Alaska Statehood Celebration Commission also includes links to celebration plans around the state, information about Alaska and how it became a state, and traveling exhibits from the Alaska State Museum.

Friday, June 13, 2008

How much did the U.S. spend for Alaska and when?

Question: How much did the U.S. spend for Alaska and when?

Answer: Alaska was purchased from Russia in 1867 for $7,200,000. For brief background on the purchase, please see the American Contact with Russian America chapter of the Alaska History Course. For a copy of the canceled check, please visit the National Archives at

The Alaska State Library is rich with resources on Alaska under Russian rule. See our catalog for details.

Maps of Alaska

Question: I need a map showing Alaska superimposed over the lower 48.

Answer: The Alaska Information page of the Alaska Kids' Corner has a map like this at

If you're interested in other Alaska maps, here are a few places to visit:

Statewide Maps from Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys

National Atlas - Do a search on Alaska to get an interesting set of maps.

If you're interesting in topographic maps of Alaska, stop by the library. We have a full set, plus several Alaska-specific atlases.

Panning For Gold

Question: Where & how can I prospect for gold in Alaska?

Answer: The Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys have put together a great set of information circulars related to individuals looking for gold in Alaska. The circulars can be read online at If you have additional questions, please contact a Department of Natural Resources Public Information Center or refer to their fact sheet: Timesaving Tips for Prospective Gold Seekers.

When Did Alaska Become A State?

Question: When did Alaska become a State?

Answer: Alaska officially became a state on January 3, 1959. This and other basic facts about Alaska are available through the Alaska Kids' Corner.

If you're interested in a brief history of Alaska Statehood, check out the Alaska history page from the University of Viginia at

More information on Alaska's path to statehood is available through books, videos and other materials that you can locate through WorldCat, the world's library catalog.

If you'd like a visual journey of Alaska's path to statehood, try out the Alaska Digital Archives "Movement to Statehood" page at

Finally, Alaska is gearing up to celebrate its 50th birthday as a State. More information about these efforts can be found at the Alaska Statehood Celebration Commission website.

Getting Information about Alaskan communities

Question: I need information on Dillingham, Alaska.

Answer: Here is some basic information about Dillingham provided by the Alaska Community Database Online:


(DILL-eeng-ham); a.k.a. Curyung; Kanakanak

Current Population: 2,397 (2006 DCCED Certified Population)
Incorporation Type: 1st Class City
Borough Located In: Unorganized
Taxes: Sales: 6%, Property: 13.0 mills, Special: 10% Alcohol Tax; 10% Gaming Tax; 10% Accommodations Tax
National Flood Insurance Program Participant: Yes
Coastal Management District: Bristol Bay CRSA

This resource also provides information on Location and Climate; History, Culture and Demographics; Facilities, Utilities, Schools and Health Care; Economy and Transportation; and Organizations with Local Offices.

The Community Database is produced by the Alaska Division of Community and Regional Affairs. For more extensive information about Dillingham, check out what's available through WorldCat.

Another good source of information for Alaska's community is the SLED - Alaska Communities Page. The Alaska Communities page on SLED (the Statewide Library Electronic Doorway) contains an extensive list of city, town and borough web pages. There are also links to municipal codes online.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Alaska Temp Records and Other Superlatives

Question: What is the highest temperature ever recorded in Alaska?

Answer: According to the SLED's FAQAlaska:

"The highest recorded temperature for Alaska is 100 degrees at Fort Yukon in June 1915. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) records through 1977 show that Alaska and Hawaii hold the record for the lowest high temperature marks in the U. S. Both have 100 degree highs. Every other state has a highest temperature of over 100. California has the highest recorded temperature at 134 degrees."

FAQAlaska has an annotated listing of weather records and other superlatives about Alaska at

How much was the PFD for the past 5 years?

Question: How much was the PFD for the past 5 years?

Answer: The Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation has a page listing the dividend amounts all the way back to 1982 at Amounts for the last five years were:

2007 $1654.00
2006 $1106.96
2005 $845.76
2004 $919.84
2003 $1107.56
2002 $1540.76

The Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) is a payment to Alaska residents from investment income generated by Alaska's Permanent Fund.

Relocation to Alaska

Question: I'm thinking about moving to Alaska. How much is food, housing, etc. How do I find a job? What should I bring with me?

Answer: The Department of Labor and Workforce Development pulls together a number of great resources aimed at people thinking about moving to our great state. Their page is located at

It might also be helpful to read the newspaper(s) of the towns you are interested in. Alaska's SLED project has a list of Alaska newspapers that have web versions.

Daylight in Alaska

Question: How many hours of daylight does Seward have in September?

Answer: According to the history feature of the Weather Underground, daylight in Seward, Alaska varies from 14h 09m on September 1st to 11h 32m on September 30th.

Daylight in Alaska is another thing that varies across our large state. For an overview of how much it can vary, check out the Alaska Geophysical Institute's page on Daylight in Alaska at

Land Ownership in Alaska

Question: What is the percentage of privately owned land in Alaska?

Answer: About 1%, according to the Department of Natural Resources' Land Ownership factsheet. Here are some figures about other owners of Alaska's land:

Federal government
  • 222 million acres, 60% of the total area of Alaska.
State government
  • Currently the state has received patent to approximately 90 million acres of the 105 million acres granted at statehood. This represents roughly 25% of the total area of Alaska.
Native lands
  • These are private lands held by regional and village Native corporations. 44 million acres are owned by Native corporations.
For more information on land ownership in Alaska, visit the Division of Mining, Land and Water's Web page at:

Fossils and Other State Symbols

Question: What is Alaska's state fossil?Answer: As established by the 14th Alaska Legislature in 1986, the State Fossil of Alaska is the Woolly Mammoth. This and other interesting facts about our other state symbols can be found on the Student Information page provided by the Alaska Office of Economic Development.

Famous Alaskans

Question: I need a famous Alaskan to write a paper on.

Answer: Alaska has generated a number of notable people, including Elizabeth Peratrovich, Ernest Gruening, Mike Gravel, Jewel, and Carlos Boozer. You can find a list of notable Alaskans with brief details at For more in-depth information about a particular famous Alaskan, try a search in our catalog, or WorldCat, the global library catalog. Wikipedia can be helpful too, especially for pop culture figures, but be sure to check the information you find there against other sources.

If you live in Alaska and are looking for recent information about living notable Alaskans, it's worth it to give the Digital Pipeline a try. For example, as of June 2008, a quick Pipeline search brought up 166 articles on basketball player Carlos Boozer.

Genealogy Assistance

Question: Uncle Joe died in Alaska in the 1950's, how do I get an obituary?Answer: Under some circumstances, the Alaska State Library is very happy to provide you with a copy of an obituary. If you know Joe's last name, where in Alaska he died and his death date to within a week, we will look for an obituary in the appropriate Alaska newspaper. If we find one, we will send it to you.

If you can't get that specific, then the following resources might be helpful to you:
Alaska Historical Collections Finding Aids
This is a page to a set of online personal name indexes produced by our Historical Collections.
SLED - Alaska Arts, Literature & History Page
The Arts, Literature & History page on SLED (the Statewide Library Electronic Doorway) has many links to web pages dealing with Alaska history.
The AlaskaGenWeb Page
This page is a part of the USGenWeb Project and includes links to local and statewide genealogical resources.
How to find your Gold Rush relative guide
Sources on the Klondike and Alaska gold rushes (1896-1914)
This guide is presented by the Alaska Gold Rush Centennial Task Force and is intended to provide a basic list of Alaska and Yukon genealogical resources for individuals who were in the north during the Klondike and Alaska Gold Rushes (1896-1914).
Alaska Genealogy Guide from the Alaska State Library
This Guide offers a basic list of Alaska related genealogy resources available to researchers. There are Internet based resources listed including the Alaska Periodicals Index which includes some Alaska obituaries.
Alaska Newspapers on Microfilm: 1866-1998
A guide to Alaskan newspapers currently available on microfilm. This guide is available on-line in .pdf format.

How do I become an Alaska Resident?

Question: How do I become an Alaska resident?

Answer: This is another "It Depends!" answer because State agencies have different criteria to define Alaska residency. The following are the most frequently requested.

What time is it up there?

Question: What time zone is Alaska in?

Most of Alaska is located in the Alaska Time Zone. The far reaches of the Aleutian Chain and St. Laurence Island are located in the Hawaiian-Aleutian Time Zone.
To calculate what time it is currently in Alaska, you'll need to subtract a certain number of hours from Universal Time (UTC). Universal Time is usually known as Greenwich Mean Time.
  • Alaska Daylight Time: subtract 8 hours from UTC
  • Alaska Standard Time: subtract 9 hours from UTC
  • Hawaii-Aleutian Daylight Time: subtract 9 hours from UTC
  • Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time: subtract 10 hours from UTC
Alaska Standard Time is 4 hours behind Eastern Standard Time and 1 hour behind Pacific Standard Time.
For more information on U.S. time zones and Universal Time, visit the U.S. Naval Observatory's home page at

Alaska Time Zone history

On October 30, 1983, when daylight time reverted to standard time, Alaska changed from four time zones to two time zones. Before the change, Alaska's time zones were:
  • Pacific time (southeastern Alaska)
  • Yukon time (Yakutat)
  • Alaska time (from just east of Cold Bay and west of Yakutat northward, including Nome)
  • Bering time (the north coast of Alaska and the Aleutian chain)
The change was done to facilitate doing business in Alaska, improve communications and unify residents.

Weather in Alaska

Question: I'm traveling to Alaska in May and am wondering how warm it will be?

Answer: Because of Alaska's vast size, the answer is "It Depends!" May in Ketchikan (rainy) is different from May in Barrow (chance of snow).

The Alaska Climate Research Center, part of the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, has a climate page with good information about specific conditions in different parts of the state. That page is at

If you know which towns in Alaska you'll be visiting, check out Alaska Community Database from our Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. The community profiles include information about climate as well has local history and demographics.

How many of "Feature X" exist in Alaska?

Question: How many rivers are there in Alaska? How many lakes? How about islands?

Answer: This is a type of question without a straight answer. It depends on how you define rivers and lakes, whether places that appear to be islands at high tide count and on the fact that parts of Alaska has not been mapped in high detail. Then there are physical processes that wipe out old features and create new ones.

With these cautions in mind, estimates of rivers, lakes and islands can be found at the Alaska Office of Economic Development's Alaska geography site at (Update October 2014: This website is no longer maintained by the Department of Commerce, Community & Economic Development's Division of Economic Development. You can find estimates of the numbers of rivers, lakes, and islands at the State of Alaska's Kids' Corner at

According to the United States Board of Geographic Names, there are 2,762 named islands, 3,388 named lakes, and 9,587 named streams in Alaska as of October 2014. You can download the entire dataset at

For more information about mapping, geography and geology in Alaska, check out these three resources:

Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys

United States Geological Survey information about Alaska

Domestic (Geographic) Names from USGS - Handy resources for learning about place names in Alaska and the other 49 states.

What are the names of Alaska's glaciers?

Question: Where can I find a list of the glaciers in Alaska?

Answer: We have compiled a list of named glaciers located in Alaska at This list does not represent all glaciers in Alaska because not every glacier in Alaska is named. If you're looking for reading/viewing material on glaciers in Alaska, check out this list in WorldCat, the world's catalog of library catalogs.

Update September 2014: Since the list above was created, four new glaciers have been added to the USGS's Geographic Names Information System. They are:

Glacier Name Location Latitude Longitude Topo map
Klawasi Glacier Valdez-Cordova 620516N 1444301W Gulkana A-2
Ch'atanalch'elt Li'a Kenai Peninsula 611627N 1520558W Tyonek B-6
Ted Stevens Icefield Valdez-Cordova 612000N 1465000W Valdez B-8
Noisy Glacier Kodiak Island 581608N 1545148W Mount Katmai B-3

Want to name your own glacier? See this post on naming geographic features from December 24, 2008.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Homesteading in Alaska

Question: I've heard that there is free land in Alaska through the homesteading program. Where can I find out more?

Answer: At this time, there are no homesteading or other free land programs for the public. The federal program ceased in 1986. There are periodic sales of state lands.

For more information about federal land in Alaska, please visit

For more information about the availability of state land sales, please visit

Updated Feb. 7, 2018.