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Files of the Alaskan Territorial Governors 1889-1919

Introduction to Online Correspondence of Alaska's Governors, 1889-1919

Approximately 40,000 items of historic correspondence sent by or to Alaska's Governors between 1889 and 1919 have been digitized. This includes letters sent by Alaska's Governors between 1889 and 1919, and some correspondence received between 1906 and 1909. Alaska first received a Governor in 1884 when Alaska became a District, so these records constitute the oldest records created by Alaska's highest governing official. These records detail many aspects of Alaska's history and people.

The original correspondence of Alaska's Governors is held by the Alaska State Archives. These historic paper records are arranged/catalogued in three Series, and the nature and content of these Series are detailed below. This correspondence was microfilmed during the late 1970s, and in 2012 the microfilm was converted to digital format. These documents are arranged below as digital documents based on microfilm roll number. A topical subject index has also been made available to assist researchers. Researchers should know that one box of material, the oldest material spanning 1884-1889, is not available digitally. The original microfilm work of the 1970s, combined with some of the faded writing in the books, rendered the product digitized from the microfilm of too poor of quality for researchers. Please contact Archives staff to review this material.

Researchers should know that many additional records of Alaska's District (1884-1912) and Territorial (1912-1959) Governor are held by the Alaska State Archives, but these records have not been digitized due to the extensive size of the collection. The bulk of these include the Territorial Governor's subject files, which can be accessed by researchers upon request.

Series Description of Governors' Correspondence

SR 448 (District Governor Letter Press Books 1885-1913)

This series consists of outgoing letters of the district governor and occasionally the governor's secretary for the period 1885-1913. Copies of letters were maintained in letter press books. Governors prior to 1906 appear to have divided outgoing letters into "official" and "unofficial" subseries. In 1906 governor Wilford Hoggatt instituted the categories of "departmental" letters (to federal officials on administrative or procedural topics) and "miscellaneous" letters (on all topics). The categories which were also applied retroactively to "official" correspondence from the years 1885 to 1905. Hoggatt (1906-1909) and succeeding governor Walter E. Clark (1909-1913) used these two categories, but created other new subject categories for outgoing letters. In this series these subjects include game laws, schools, Indian police, notaries public, liquor traffic among Natives, and the Alaska Historical Library and Museum. Letters relating to these topics were, with some minor exceptions, maintained in separate letter press volumes after 1906.

Letter press books are arranged chronologically by governor for the period 1885-1905. Letters for the period 1906-1913 are divided into departmental, miscellaneous, and subject subseries. Within each subseries records are arranged chronologically.

SR 439 (Territorial Governor Letters Sent 1913-1918)

This series consists of outgoing letters of both the territorial governor and the governor's secretary for the period 1913-1918. During this period letters were maintained by topic: schools, game hunting, liquor, Alaska's historical library and museum, World War I draft registration and other war related topics, "departmental" (letters to federal officials on administrative and procedural topics), and miscellaneous. Miscellaneous letters reflected such subjects as management of the Pioneers' home at Sitka, highway construction, treatment of Alaska's insane persons, women's suffrage, and requests from persons for information about employment opportunities in Alaska. Indexes by recipient name are interfiled with related letters.

Letters from 1913 to 1918 were divided among subject subseries: departmental, schools, game library, liquor, registration/draft/war, and miscellaneous. Letters are also distinguished by type of recordkeeping: letter books (1913) and file folders (1913-1918). Each subseries spans several books or files; books and files are separated by type. Letters within subseries are arranged chronologically. Indexes exist for each book or file and are interfiled with them.

SR 445 (District Governor letters received)

In 1906 Governor Wilford Hoggett instituted the use of a numeric file system for subject files maintained by the governor's office. Prior to 1906, secretaries to staffs of successive governors pasted letters received into letter file books in sequential order. Separate letter files were maintained for different types of letters received. Letters received from federal agencies, including the Department of Interior, went into a "departmental" file. All other letters received went into a "miscellaneous" file. The miscellaneous file was divided into specific areas: general inquiry, Indian police, care of the insane and notaries public. It appears that Governor Hoggatt's staff first applied the terms "departmental" and "miscellaneous" retroactively to these records, in order to integrate the records into the file system used in 1906-1909. The staff of governors Hoggett and Clark maintained card files for letters received. The Hoggett card file distinguishes between departmental and non-governmental letters. The Clark card file is indexed numerically by a subject code established in 1909. Information may include date of the letter, purpose, and name of correspondent.

Collection Lists

Simplified Collection List
Governor Date Range Roll Number(s) Subject(s)
Lyman E. Knapp 1889-1893 10966
  • Letters received
  • General files
  • Office of Indian Affairs
  • Pardons
James Sheakley 1893-1897 10967-10968
  • Letters sent
  • Letters received
  • Fiscal accounts
John G. Brady 1897-1906 10968-10975
  • Letters sent
  • Fiscal accounts
Wilford B. Hoggatt 1906-1909 10975-10977
  • Letters sent
Walter E. Clark 1909-1913 10980-10985
  • Letters sent
  • Fiscal accounts (1909-1915)
John A. Strong 1913-1918 10985-11005
  • Letters sent
  • Reference file
  • Hearings on the 8 Hour Law (1918)
  • Senate hearings (1915)
  • Liquor trial transcript
  • Game Law correspondence
  • Alaska Historical Society and Museum Newspaper subscriptions
Thomas Riggs, Jr. 1918-1921 11005-11007
  • War draft
Hoggatt & Clark 1906-1913 11008
  • Card files
  • Letters received

Download our complete Finding Aid [DOC]

To view the collection listed by subject, visit our Subject Guide.

To request PDFs contact Archives Staff by filling out our Research Inquiry Form and list which roll(s) and part(s) you're interested in reviewing.

Page last updated 01/31/2020