New in the PMHA Historical Collections
In spring 2017, the Palmer Museum was one of two institutions, in the state of Alaska, that were selected by the Alaska State Historical Records Advisory Board, to receive funding to afford the services of a journeyman archivist from the Lower 48. During May - June 2017, the Palmer Museum hosted journeyman archivist, Laura Frizzell. During her six week visit, Laura assisted museum staff and volunteers with processing artifacts that were recently donated to the museum. Below, is a sample of the work she accomplished and an example of the wealth of knowledge that the Palmer Museum cares for.
Elsie Blue Photograph Collection
Elsie Blue (née: Havens) was born April 27, 1905 in Illinois. She relocated to Palmer, Alaska in 1937 as a young Operating Room nurse for the Palmer Hospital. In 1938, she married Walter (Walt) Blue, who worked at the Colony Trading Post and was originally from Seward, Alaska. The couple lived in Palmer until 1940 when photos indicate they moved to the Native village of Kanatak on the Alaska Peninsula. In her later years following her nursing career, Elsie retired to Anchorage, where she eventually served as President of the Women’s Igloo of the Pioneers of Alaska. She died May 13, 1999 in Anchorage at the age of 94.
The Elsie Blue Photo Collection consists of 446 photos kept in one photo album. Ranging from 1936 to 1940, Elsie’s photo collection depicts her life in Palmer and her travels throughout the territory of Alaska, including Nome, Kodiak, Kanatak, Juneau, and more. Other individuals represented within this photo album include: Walt Blue, Ed Ueeck, Ilah Senska, Jack Allman, nurses and other staff members from the Palmer Hospital, and Native families and students. A diverse representation of life in Alaska in the 1930’s and 1940’s, Elsie’s photos depict animals, physical labor (including the construction of community buildings), Palmer Hospital buildings and events, agriculture, Native culture, landscapes, etc.
Within the photo album, the photos are arranged in vertical columns on each page. By lifting each photo, the others can be seen beneath. Some of the oversized photos have been encapsulated in mylar sleeves to prevent wear and tear. The majority of the photos are in very good condition with the exception of some that display minor wear and water damage. Some of the photos have come loose from their pages, and have been placed in mylar sleeves. Most of the photos have been digitized and are represented with high-resolution scans. The photo album has been left intact as a single artifact, and the photos inside maintain their original arrangement. The majority of the items in the album are photographs, but there are also some picture postcards.
Alaska Magazine Collection
The Alaska magazine publication offers news and information about many aspects of living in Alaska. Founded in 1935 in Ketchikan, Alaska by Emery Fridolf Tobin and Ray Roady, the publication was initially titled Alaska Sportsman Magazine and catered primarily to the discussion and photography of fishing, hunting, camping, dog sledding, and other physical ventures. In 1969, a new title, Alaska, was adopted and has remained in use to the present day. Over time, the articles within the magazine began to reflect different facets of Alaska living, including spotlights on Native cultures, the environment, the arts, cooking, and individuals. In addition to a broader focus in content, the magazine also expanded its readership to audiences outside the state of Alaska. The publication strives to represent many areas of Alaska; as such, articles frequently feature Native villages, Nome, Barrow, Juneau, Fairbanks, the Aleutian Islands, etc. This expansive focus on locations that are diverse in terms of culture, population, and geography creates a well-rounded
depiction of the state. Reoccurring segments include: “End of the Trail,” “From Ketchikan to Barrow,” “Letters, Notes & Comments,” and others. Palmer, Alaska and the Matanuska Valley are regularly mentioned throughout the different issues, especially in articles that highlight agriculture.
The Alaska Magazine Collection was donated to the Palmer Museum of History and Art by the estate of Marian H. Parks. It consists of 485 individual issues ranging in date from November 1946 to June 2012. These issues are housed in eleven boxes. The museum has only kept issues of the publication that contain relevance to the city of Palmer and the surrounding Matanuska Valley. The majority of the magazines are in good condition, and those that display water damage or other signs of extensive wear have been placed in mylar sleeves. The cover and table of contents within each issue have been photographed and can be accessed digitally.