Friday, January 22, 2016

New resource for Alaska territorial vital records

After three years, thousands of hours, and millions of images, the Alaska territorial vital records are now available online through a partnership between the Alaska State Archives and

The Alaska, Vital Records, 1816-1959 collection includes birth, marriage, death, and probate records from Alaska's territorial days. If you've ever used, then you'll be comfortable searching for your Alaskan ancestor, limiting the type of records you want, and viewing images of the original records.

To try it out, I searched for Andrew Kashevaroff, first curator and librarian of the Alaska Territorial Museum and Library. I found his death certificate from April 3, 1940. The search tool is user-friendly, and I can find this result even if I search for variants on his name like "Kashevarof" or "Kashevarov".
A portion of Andrew Petrovich Kashevaroff's death certificate.
This record alone would be a huge find for a genealogist. It includes a wealth of information, including his birthplace, his parents' names and birthplaces, his occupation, place and cause of death, place and date of burial, and names of his living children and other relatives.

I noticed that Kashevaroff was buried in Juneau, which took me to the Evergreen Cemetery map. Searching it showed where Kashevaroff is buried in the cemetery, but there was a discrepancy between the death record and the cemetery record. The death record says he died on April 3, and the cemetery website says he died on April 6.
Screenshot from the Evergreen Cemetery online map
Using the Evergreen Cemetery map, I could easily find Kashevaroff's grave to see what's actually printed on the headstone.

The headstone of Kashevaroff's grave shows that he died on April 3, 1940, not April 6. One possible explanation is that the cemetery recorded the burial date, since that would have been when his body came to the cemetery. This slight discrepancy highlights the importance of primary source material like the vital records from the Alaska State Archives.
Next, I looked for Kashevaroff's obituary in the Daily Alaska Empire newspaper microfilm for early April 1940. This was published in the April 3 issue.
Kashevaroff passes after 76 years as resident of Alaska
Clicking on this image will open a larger image.
As any genealogist or researcher knows, the research process can be long and winding, branching out in many directions and doubling back. I'm thrilled that in the past three months, we've gained three incredible tools, including the Evergreen Cemetery map and Betty Miller's Vital Records that make Juneau history research easier. If you'd like guidance on using any of these resources, we're happy to help.

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Reading resolutions for 2016

If your New Year's resolutions include reading more books in 2016, your library can help make that happen. Whether you want to fill your nightstand with cozy mysteries, heart-pounding thrillers, scholarly biographies, or business manifestos, there are great free tools out there for you.
Dog wearing glasses reading a book
Resolved to read more this year? Get recommendations, read reviews, and download e-books from your library.

NoveList: All Alaskans have access to NoveList, a popular database for finding books based on genre, mood, setting, and many more options. I like to use NoveList before I travel to find books that take place in that locale. Last summer I visited Newfoundland, and enjoyed reading The Shipping News by Annie Proulx and Sweetland by Michael Crummey, which I discovered on NoveList. As the database's name suggests, its focus is on fiction.

Goodreads: Last week, people were chatting about how they did on their 2015 Goodreads Challenge, where users set reading goals for the year, ranging from reading a handful of books to hundreds. This year's challenge is off and running. With a free Goodreads account, you can track the books you read, connect with friends, and find new books based on your reading preferences. It's like a social network for readers. And it'll help you keep track of which Jack Reacher novels you've already read.

E-books and audiobooks: I'll be honest - I was a late convert to e-books and audiobooks, but having books with me wherever I go has increased my reading. Waiting in line at the DMV? Read an e-book. Washing dishes? Listen to an audiobook. If you have a library card from one of the dozens of participating libraries on Alaska Digital Library (formerly ListenAlaska Plus), you can get e-books and audiobooks on your computer or device. If you live in a community with no public library, you can access Alaska Digital Library with a card from statewide mail services.
A busy DMV lobby filled with people waiting.
E-books and audiobooks can make a long wait at the DMV go faster. Photo: Gabriel White via Flickr, CC-BY-SA.

Review alerts: Since I work at the Alaska State Library, staying up-to-date with Alaskana helps me do my job. One tool I find really handy is an information alert that sends me an email whenever a book review that references Alaska or the Arctic is added to the EBSCO databases. If you'd like to create an alert like this on any topic, you can contact us for assistance.

Ask us! When people find out I'm a librarian, they assume that I spend all day reading books, usually while sipping tea and petting a cat. In reality, my professional life is filled with research requests, databases, and programming planning. But I enjoy reading and talking about books, and most of my colleagues do too. So ask your favorite librarian to recommend some titles for you!
Artwork of a woman with two cats drinking tea and reading a book.
Contrary to popular belief, this is not my job. But I can recommend a book for you to enjoy while drinking tea and petting your cats! Image by Valeriane Duvivier.