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Archiving history: Ted Stevens ANCSA papers available to the public

by Catalina Myers  |   

Arlene Schmuland, Head of Archives & Special Collections and Professor of Library Science, looks through photos in boxes of documents from the recently-donated Ted Stevens Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) papers in UAA's Consortium Library.
Arlene Schmuland, head of Archives & Special Collections and professor of library science, looks through photos in boxes of documents from the recently donated Ted Stevens Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act papers in the UAA/APU Consortium Library. (Photo by James Evans / University of Alaska Anchorage)

For many months last year, the archivists at the Ted Stevens Foundation carefully combed through 4,800 banker's boxes filled with the iconic late Alaska senator's papers of his work on the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act — more commonly known as ANCSA.

The meticulous work resulted in memos, maps, photographs and other essential documents detailing the process of the historic legislation. On the 50th anniversary, in December, the Ted Stevens Foundation donated the Ted Stevens Collection-Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act sub-collection (ANCSA sub-collection) to the UAA/APU Consortium Library.

“We wanted it to be accessible for the 50th anniversary and are excited that we were able to work with the university and UAA/APU Consortium Library staff and archivists,” said Karina Waller, executive director of the Ted Stevens Foundation. “The goal is to eventually donate the entire collection of the senator's papers to the university.”

Established in 2001, the Ted Stevens Foundation’s mission is to recognize the late senator’s achievements and honor his legacy of public service. The effort is to ensure the late senator’s legacy of public service lives on for the community he loved so much. Since its founding, Waller said its mission has also broadened to provide Alaskans with opportunities to create a brighter future for the state by facilitating leadership development, training and events.

A number of planning maps are among the documents from the recently-donated Ted Stevens Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) papers in the archive at the UAA/APU Consortium Library.
A number of planning maps are among the documents from the recently donated Ted Stevens Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act papers in the archive at the UAA/APU Consortium Library. (Photo by James Evans / University of Alaska Anchorage)

The Ted Stevens Foundation has delivered six boxes of the ANCSA sub-collection with plans over the next year to provide the Consortium Library with the collection in its entirety.

“The senator's collection we've come to learn is one of the largest congressional collections ever amassed,” said Waller. According to Waller, each member of congress retains their own work in their personal office while serving. Their work can either be discarded, archived or donated. The foundation was set up to be the repository of the papers with the eventual goal of the senator to donate them to the university.

Waller said Stevens felt his papers were a valuable historical resource and had always envisioned his lifework would be made available and used for the public good. In his later years as a senator, he hired an archivist to assemble, sort and begin the tremendous task of archiving his papers.

His collection arrived in relatively good condition, but she and her small staff have a lifetime’s worth of papers, memos, photographs and memorabilia from Stevens’ expansive 41-year career. The ANCSA sub-collection is a small part of the entire Ted Stevens collection, which will eventually be housed in the Consortium Library and available for the public.

Boxes of documents from the recently-donated Ted Stevens Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) papers in the archives at the UAA/APU Consortium Library.
Boxes of documents from the recently-donated Ted Stevens Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act papers in the archives at the UAA/APU Consortium Library. (Photo by James Evans / University of Alaska Anchorage)

In addition to the Ted Stevens Foundation collection, Waller said the intention of collaborating with the Consortium Library is also to house other notable Alaskan’s collections — not just legislators and those who served in public office but authors, artists and other public figures who have contributed to our state’s rich history.

“Universities are uniquely positioned to not only store and care for tremendous artifacts like the ANCSA papers but to also be seen by the public and to be studied by scholars,” said John Nofsinger, dean of the College of Business and Public Policy. “These papers will be widely used for education not only for students in the classroom but for people from all over the world who want to study and learn about Alaska.”

Currently, the ANCSA sub-collection is available for public viewing by appointment only. Call or email the Consortium Library Archives and Special Collections at 907-786-1849. To learn more about Ted Stevens and his life’s work, visit the Ted Stevens Foundation website.

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