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.