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Digitization of Alaska Records

by on May 20, 2014


Your participation and feedback is essential to the operations of the National Archives. As part of ongoing budget adjustments, the National Archives at Anchorage will close in the coming months, and archival records will be moved to the National Archives at Seattle.

In order to make the Alaska records more broadly available to the public, we are planning to digitize records from the Alaska field office. As valued stakeholders in the National Archives, we are seeking your participation to help select the Alaska records that should be prioritized for digitization.

To help identify which records should be digitized first, please see the list of accessioned holdings relating to Alaska**, as well as the 24 series of records from the Alaska facility that have historically received the most reference requests. You may also write-in your choice of records if it does not appear on the list.

Color post card. "Cape Prince of Wales Reindeer Herd--largest in Alaska."
Color post card. “Cape Prince of Wales Reindeer Herd–largest in Alaska.” National Archives Identifier 297780

After we receive your feedback, NARA will also take into consideration access and use restrictions, preservation issues, series size, and ease of digitization when determining the final prioritization. Your participation will also help NARA better understand the interests and needs of researchers and stakeholders, as well as further participation and transparency in an open government.

We welcome your feedback as comments on this blog post. Alternatively, you can send feedback in an email to digitization@nara.gov. We would like your input by June 30th.

Thank you for your continued interest and participation.

**The list of accessioned holdings relating to Alaska was updated on 5/27/14 to include Creating Organization.


Comments

Claire Bettag May 20, 2014 at 4:40 pm

Who is “Social Media?” It’s always nice to see who posted information on NARA’s sites. Can “Social Media” posters provide their names in the future?
Thank you, in advance.

Claire Bettag

jim hayes May 21, 2014 at 2:26 pm

i would suggest you also try crowdsourcing your scanning effort. put a scanner in the public space. ask Dominic McDevitt Parks about his successes

also smithsonian transcription crowdsourcing https://transcription.si.edu/

Miscelena May 22, 2014 at 9:42 am

As an amateur genealogist, I have been researching online to find info re: immigrant ancestors who participated in the Alaskan Gold Rush and may have homesteaded for some time thereafter…
For that reason, I’d like to see the following prioritized for digitization:
- Historical Files Relating to Real Estate
- Alaska Naturalization Records (incl petitions)
Thanks for asking… : )

Pamela Wright May 23, 2014 at 11:17 am

Claire,

Thank you for your comment on NARA’s request to help prioritize the Alaska records digitization. Jay Bosanko, Chief Operating Officer, wrote this communication.

Pamela Wright
Office of Innovation

Pamela Wright May 23, 2014 at 11:18 am

Jim,

Thank you for your comment on NARA’s request to help prioritize the Alaska records digitization. NARA is working hard to engage Citizen Archivists in supporting the overall digitization of records for public access. Our hope is that we can leverage our Scanathon successes to other locations.

Pamela Wright
Office of Innovation

Robert May 23, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Anchorage has a number of scanning and printing companies that could digitize a substantial amount of these documents before they leave the state. If some documents are to be identified as priority, it would prevent any lapses in accessibility by the public.
This scanning could start immediately with little effect on day to day operations of the Anchorage office. A substantially larger quantity could be handled if some reasonable allowance of time was given for mobilization.
Another option is for lower priority documents to be scanned locally since Seattle facilities would not be able to process them first.
On-site scanners and operators or same day turnaround can keep documents secure at the NARA office when not being actively processed. Our shop has monitored fire and burglary system with fire and earthquake rated storage.
This would be a substantial and well received project for possibly multiple local companies. The short window of time between the closing notice in March and the shipping of documents to Seattle for processing by those vendors leaves very little time to consider options that might serve the local public in the short term.
Has any serious consideration been given to utilizing local services in this effort. Either a portion or all or certain types of documents; ie. photos, text, oversize, and microfiche? Consider that the ARCO Alaska buyout and subsequent Conoco-Phillips merger as well as the Carrs-Safeway grocery merger was handled by local companies.
Is there a vendors list other than our registration with the Government printing Office?

Robert & Janai Jent
Alaska Legal Copy

Pamela Wright May 28, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Miscelena,
Thank you for your detailed and thoughtful comments on NARA’s request to help prioritize the digitization of Alaska records. Digitizing records that matter the most to researchers is one of our goals in asking for feedback. Your good suggestion will be considered as we develop the prioritized digitization list.

Pamela Wright
Innovation Office

Pamela Wright May 28, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Robert and Janai,
Thank you for your comment on NARA’s request to help prioritize the digitization of Alaska records. Closing and vacating the facility by the end of September requires a number of steps, including the move of the records in advance of that date. In order to provide for a safe and orderly move, we will close the research rooms on June 20th so that records can be prepared for shipment. Given the timeframe, it was not feasible to perform digitization services on the records prior to shipment.

Pamela Wright
Innovation Office

Robert May 30, 2014 at 4:42 pm

From a small business perspective it appears that Alaska’s loss is once again Seattle’s gain. The shutdown of the NARA Anchorage facility is disappointing for a number of reasons including cultural, educational, and financial.
The small window of time between public notice of the shutdown and the closure in June left little time for public input and seems to have been a “done deal” by the time notice was given.
Was any effort made to have the University of Alaska or Anchorage Museum take over administration of these records? Possibly run by a non-profit, much like the arrangement that the USGS had with the map store before that shutdown. Perhaps the Anchorage School District or DOT had a facility that could be used. Did NARA look into partnering with State or local governments to keep these documents in Alaska?
My small business would have been very interested to weigh in on the Digitization, since that is what we do. A project of this scope might have brought hundreds of thousands or more dollars into multiple local businesses that do this kind of work. I do not know the exact number of NARA documents involved but consider that a recent school district scanning contract for 5,000,000 documents was awarded to one company for $570,000.
It seems unlikely that this decision was made only a short time ago. Possibly NARA made some of these efforts before March but the public and its representatives never got a reasonable chance for input.

Robert Jent , Owner
Alaska Legal Copy

sheri hamming June 1, 2014 at 5:58 pm

Speaking on behalf of those connected to the Matanuska Colony Project and Palmer, Alaska I request digitizing the Matanuska Colony Project records asap. We have folks researching our project on a continual basis and this would be of such value to us all!
Thank you for your consideration to preserve our history!
Sheri Hamming
Palmer Historical Society
President

Helen Hegener June 1, 2014 at 6:03 pm

While I realize there are numerous holdings in the archives which deserve priority status, I urge consideration of the Alaska Rural Rehabilitation Corporation records on the 1935 Matanuska Valley Project as a top priority.

These papers document an important time in the history of our state, and our nation, and having them digitally available would be an incredible resource for families, researchers, and the media.

I applaud your ongoing efforts to preserve and protect all of our records and documents. Past is prologue…

Helen Hegener
Northern Light Media
Wasilla, Alaska

Bill Fikes June 1, 2014 at 9:13 pm

Please ensure complete copies of RG 69 Matanuska Colony Records 1935-42, 81 archival boxes remain in State and hopefully indexed online.

Pamela Wright June 18, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Robert,
Thanks again for your comment Robert. We have been and continue to work closely with Alaska institutions. If you have any comments regarding prioritization of the records, we would like to hear from you.

Pam Wright
Innovation Office

Ray Kreig June 20, 2014 at 10:07 pm

I identify here important aerial photographic material that actually should never leave Alaska because scans are an inadequate substitute for the original.

But if this move to Seattle for these items cannot be stopped than priority for highest quality digitization needs to be made. The items are:

RG 57 – Alaska Aerial Survey Expedition Photographs – 1926 to 1929 – USGS-Navy – S.E. Alaska. This is a large collection and I can prioritize within it the most important 5%-10% to do first. Candace Lein-Hayes,
Access Coordinator–West, Research Services, National Archives is knowledgeable about the issues with this collection. Also Greg Palmieri, Alaska Div. of Forestry, Haines.

RG 49 – Aerial Photograph Slides & Prints & Related Indexes – 1951 to 1965 – BLM Anchorage

RG 322 – Aerial Color Films – 1966 to 1970 – Engineering Department – Anchorage

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