Friday, November 13, 2009

Reading about Alaska's history

Question: Can you suggest books about the history of Alaska and its major cities?

Answer: Before I go into some specific recommendations, I wanted to suggest this book of recommended Alaska titles:

Alaska Historical Society. (2006). The Alaska 67: a guide to Alaska's best history books. Walnut Creek, CA: Hardscratch Press. See holding libraries at This has annotations on 67 books related to specific aspects of Alaska history.

Another good source of recommendations for nonfiction and fiction about Alaska is our library's "Some Books About Alaska" guide, which was published from 1994-2000. You can find those issues at

Now for some recommendations about specific books:

State History:

Naske, C.-M., & Slotnick, H. E. (1979). Alaska, a history of the 49th State. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. See holding libraries at This is considered one of the standard works on Alaska.

Haycox, S. W. (2002). Alaska: an American colony. Seattle: University of Washington Press. See holding libraries at This work links Alaska history under Russia and the United States to colonialism.

Whitehead, J. S. (2004). Completing the union: Alaska, Hawai'i, and the battle for statehood. Histories of the American frontier. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. See holding libraries at This is the most painless and fun read of the story of how Alaska became the 49th State of the Union.

City Histories:

By 2000 population, our largest five cities are: Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan (Source: American Factfinder

Tower, E. A. (1999). Anchorage: from its humble origins as a railroad construction camp. Fairbanks: Epicenter Press. See library holdings at I've read this book myself and offer an enthusiastic recommendation.

Cole, D. (1999). Fairbanks: a gold rush town that beat the odds. Fairbanks, [Alaska]: Epicenter Press. See library holdings at

De Armond, R. N. (1967). The founding of Juneau. Juneau, Alaska: Gastineau Channel Centennial Association. See library holdings at Considered the major work on Juneau history.

Stone, D., Stone, B., & Bradley, P. R. (1980). Hard rock gold: the story of the great mines that were the heartbeat of Juneau. Juneau, Alaska (155 S. Seward St., Juneau, Alaska 99801): Juneau Centennial Committee, City & Borough of Juneau. See library holdings at


Andrews, C. L. (1922). The story of Sitka; the historic outpost of the northwest coast, the chief factory of the Russian American company. Seattle: Press of Lowman and Henford. See list of holding libraries at

Roppel, P. (1982). Sitka, and its ocean/island world. Alaska geographic, v. 9, no. 2. Anchorage, Alaska: Alaska Geographic Society. See library holdings at

Allen, J., & Charles, P. (1992). Spirit!: historic Ketchikan, Alaska. Ketchikan, Alaska: Published by Lind Printing for Historic Ketchikan. See library holdings at

Harrington, L. B., & Smith, M. C. (1999). Clams on the beach and deer in the woods: a collection of oral histories from southern Southeast Alaska. Ketchikan, Alaska: Friends of the Public Library. See library holdings at If you like personal stories, then this is the book to read about Ketchikan.

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