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Alaska's Digital Archives

Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you for visiting Alaska's Digital Archives, where you'll find a wealth of historic materials within our online database. We offer this FAQ to provide useful information about getting around our site. As a significant component of Alaska's Virtual Library and Digital Archives — hence the web address vilda.alaska.edu — our collections represent thousands of primary Alaska source materials covering a broad range of topics.

Q) Who are your project's contributing partners?
Q) What kinds of materials will I find?
Q) Does the material in Alaska's Digital Archives include all the institutions' collections
Q) Do I need special software to view the objects in the Digital Archives?
Q) Where do I go to learn more about how to use photographs or other material for personal or commercial purposes?
Q) Do you keep track of my information when I visit your website?
Q) What is the most effective way to search the Alaska Digital Archives site?
Q) Who do I contact about making a donation of funds or materials to your organization?
Q) Why don't some of the videos play correctly?


Q) Who are your project's contributing partners?

Our partners are made up of the following libraries and museums within Alaska:

Alaska State Library Historical Collections
A presence in Alaska since 1891, Alaska State Library's Historical Collections is mandated by statute to collect and preserve Alaska's history. The Collections' Territorial, State, Russian American, Native language and primary source materials form a major reference and research repository, an information center for state government and a comprehensive visual portrait of the State.

University of Alaska Fairbanks
The University of Alaska Fairbanks' Alaska and Polar Regions Collections contain one of the world's largest collections of historic photographs, manuscripts, moving images, rare books, maps, oral histories, and printed materials pertaining to Alaska and the Polar regions. Spanning six centuries, the materials document a wide variety of topics including politics, religion, the Alaska Gold Rush, settlement, Alaska Native history and culture, and Arctic social, natural, and physical sciences.
(UAF is an AA/EO employer and educational institution.)

University of Alaska Anchorage
The Archives and Manuscripts Department collects, preserves, and makes available for research records which document the social, political, cultural, and economic development of Alaska, especially that of Anchorage and South central Alaska.

Anchorage Museum of History and Art
The Anchorage Museum of History and Art at the Rasmuson Center is a world-class museum which seeks to preserve, exhibit and interpret the art and history of Alaska and the circumpolar North.

Seward Community Library Association
In memory of the founder of Seward Community Library, Viola Swetmann, the mission of the Seward Community Library Association is to support and enhance literacy in its community, provide educational opportunities through scholarships and other programs, support library functions, and encourage community-wide involvement in cultural activities for all ages.

University of Alaska Museum of the North
The Museum's 1.4 million natural and cultural history specimens represent millions of years of biological diversity and more than 11,000 years of cultural traditions in the North. These collections provide the foundation for the Museum's research, education and exhibition programs.

Sitka Tribal Library
Our mission is to involve our tribal youth and elders in our effort to increase our collection and the circulation of Sitka Tribal library resources within the tribal community while providing a comfortable atmosphere and an archive location for rare tribal documents, recordings and historical photographs.

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Q) What kinds of materials will I find?

The Archives contain materials in a number of formats, including photographs, museum objects, oral histories, film clips, maps, textual documents and videos. They are housed in a database, easily retrieved, and linked to related objects.

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Q) Does the material in Alaska's Digital Archives include all the institutions' collections?

Not by a long shot. The Digital Archives represent only a small percentage of the archival material held by our partner institutions. Please feel free to contact any of them for more information.

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Q) Do I need special software to view the objects in the Digital Archives?

Photographs are simply viewed with your web browser and require nothing more. Multimedia formats such as oral histories or film clips are presented with standard audio and video players, which you probably already have on your computer. We encode audio files in MP3 and videos in Quicktime. If you're unable to download or stream our recordings with your existing software, you can download Quicktime for video clips or Windows Media Player for audio files. A limited number of documents are presented in PDF form at and require Adobe's free reader, which is available here. All non-photographic materials ( e.g sound and video files) can be launched by selecting the link at the top of the records that says "Click here to display item."

The table below provides an overview of software necessary to launch materials in our database:



Material Type   Software Required   Material Type   Software Required   Material Type   Software Required
Video Video Quick Time   Maps Maps Web browser   Documents Documents Web browser
Photographs Photographs Web browser   Audio Audio mp3 player        


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Q) Where do I go to learn more about how to use photographs or other material for personal or commercial purposes?

Each institution that contributes to Alaska's Digital Archives has its own policies regarding rights and conditions of use for its holdings. Please locate its unique identification number (called "identifier" in the online index), and contact the institution (listed in the "Ordering and Use" field.) To view each institution's policies, visit:

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Q) Do you keep track of my information when I visit your website?

No. We provide this site as a public service and do not obtain information about you unless you choose to submit it to us . Data is collected for statistical purposes and is not expressed in any form that would reveal identifiable information about you. Session cookies (packets of information sent between server and browser) permit you to take advantage of some of the site's functionality, such as the "My Favorites" feature, but will not acquire information about you, relay your name to others, scrutinize your web usage for marketing purposes by third parties, or penetrate your hard drive. We maintain logs for the rare occasion a "hacker" may attempt to breach computer security. It permits us an opportunity to launch an investigation.

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Q) What is the most effective way to search the Alaska Digital Archives site?

There are four primary ways to search Alaska's Digital Archives:

  1. A simple key word search using terms entered in the search box.
  2. Advanced search, accessed from the home page or navigation bar at top, which allows more selective and discreet searching strategies.
  3. Browse: accessed from the home page or navigation bar at the top, in which a dropdown menu is presented showing thumb nails of each institution's full collection.
  4. Guided searches through our "Movement to Statehood" or "Alaska Native History and Culture".

Additional information with general search tips is available here.

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Q) Who do I contact about making a donation of funds or materials to your organization?

Please contact: ak-digital-archives@alaska.edu or phone (907) 474-5003 so we can direct you to the most appropriate person based on your interest or potential contribution.

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Q) Why don't some of the videos play correctly?

If you're experiencing problems with your video please download the video by clicking on the download button at the right above the embedded video player. Your downloaded video will then play in most video players, if your still having problems download the quicktime player.

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