Research Sources for Alaska History

June 22, 2016

Updated 6/22/17

Here are some of the resources I use in my Alaska and Funter Bay history research. Specific source documents can also be found in the links embedded in my posts and write-ups.

Alaska’s Digital Archives – Excellent collection of digital photos and documents from Alaska history.

Alaska DNR Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys – Mine and mineral publications for the state.

Alaska Land Records – Modern and historic land surveys and plat maps.

Alaska Resource Library – Archives of historic Alaska documents and government publications.

Alaska State Library DASH – Full text of several historic Alaska newspapers.

Bob DeArmond Alaska History Project – Searchable archive of Rober DeArmond’s articles in Juneau papers, including reprints of historic news snippets and details of Southeast Alaska historic topics.

British Columbia Archives – Documents and media from Western Canada and Alaska.

Coast Survey Historic Maps and Charts – Historic nautical charts and other maps.

David Rumsey Map Collection – Historic maps and atlases.

Google Books – Also contains old government reports and publications.

Juneau-Douglas City Museum Collections – Many photos of the Juneau area and Southeast Alaska.

Juneau Nature – A website which has many historic Southeast Alaska photos, including early aerial photo surveys.

Library & Archives Canada – Includes many photos of Alaska and Western Canada not found elsewhere.

National Archives – Digital copies of many Federal government publications.

National Archives Alaska Records Project – records from the AK division being digitized in Seattle. Evolving collection that is in progress as of 2016.

National Geologic Map Database – Can be helpful for locating mines and related infrastructure.

National Museum of Forest Service History – logging and recreation related photos in Alaska and elsewhere.

NOAA Hydrographic Surveys – The original surveys from which nautical charts were based, containing additional notes and information.

NOAA Photo Library – Collection of fisheries, wildlife, scientific, and other photos.

Northern British Columbia Archives – Photos and documents pertaining to Alaska and Northern BC

Northwest Digital Archives – Indexes & finding aids to historic photos and documents of the Pacific Northwest (in various libraries and collections)

Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection – Older topographic maps of Alaska, and other material.

University of Alabama Map Collection – Older geologic and topographic maps of specific regions.

University of Washington Digital Collections – Another great collection of Pacific Northwest photos, magazines, and documents.

US Fish & Wildlife Service Digital Library – Many modern and historic photos of wildlife, fisheries, boats, and scientific research.

USGS Historic Topo Maps – Collection of old versions of topographic maps. Goes back generally to the 1940s or 1950s in AK.

USGS Photographic Library – High Resolution copies of photos from USGS publications

USGS Publications Warehouse – Contains many old documents and reports on mines and mineral prospecting.

Washington State University Digital Collections – Fewer photos that UW’s archives, but more newspaper and print articles.

Yukon Archives – Includes some Alaska photos and Alaska Highway construction photos.

This post/list may be updated as I come across more sources. Feel free to contact me if you know of something I’ve forgotten or overlooked!

Funter Bay History: 1926 Aerial Photo

March 13, 2014

As a follow up to previous aerial photos and maps of Funter Bay, here is some imagery from 1926 taken during a US Navy coastal survey. The US Forest Service and The National Archives office in Anchorage were very helpful in finding these for me!

1929 Aerial Composite

The above is my attempt at creating a photomosaic from multiple frames. The resolution is a bit lower than later aerials, and I have not taken the time to match levels across each frame, but they give a good overview of the bay in the year they were taken. The original format of these images is a little different, as seen below:


As with the 1929 photo mentioned before, these were part of a systematic effort to obtain aerial imagery of the Alaskan coast and islands. The Navy used a number of Loening OL aircraft to obtain the photos, while support ships housed the developing lab and carried extra fuel. More information on the project can be found here.

A few notable features have been labeled in the image below. The exact date of this flight is not given, but based on the location of the fish traps I would assume it to be Fall. The traps have been pulled in to shallow estuaries for winter storage. The boats clustered around the cannery could be independent fishermen rather than cannery vessels.


Other images from this project can be obtained from the National Archives at Anchorage,  a finding aid can be requested that gives flightlines and serial numbers. The citation/location information for the images used here is as follows:

Record Group 57 / USGS Alaska Aerial Survey
Box 135
Flightline T-26
Photographs #853-863
Location: Admiralty Island
Shelf Location: 02/10/14(2)

Funter Bay in Maps

May 6, 2013

Here is a compilation of maps and aerial photos showing Funter Bay over more than 100 years. I wish I’d had this collection when I was a kid! They are great for seeing the rise and fall of development around the bay. The difference between high and low tide is also striking. If you’re a boater thinking of visiting Funter, take a look at some of the low-tide images before you take a short-cut, or you may be the next boat that someone has to pull off the sandbar! (Also think of the wind direction and bottom type, the anchors shown as moorage locations on the nautical charts are kind of another local joke… people end up dragging anchor if they use those spots in the wrong winds).

Some of the aerials are very large files, click them if you’d like to view the originals, but give them a few seconds to fully load (they may look grainy or pixelated at first).

I have collected these from several sources. The aerial photos are public domain data, produced by the Department of the Interior / United States Geological Survey. Many of these can be found at

Most of the topographic maps are products of the USGS, and can be found at

Nautical Charts were produced by the US Coast and Geodetic Survey (later NOAA), and some can be found at

Funter Bay in 1905 (Nautical Chart):
1905 chart

1905 vicinity chart:
1905 vicinity chart

1914 nautical chart (essentially the same as the 1905 edition):
1914 chart

1921 USGS map showing some of the mining claims on the South Shore:Funter claims 1921

1948 aerial photo (click to open detailed original scale):
1948 Funter Bay

The 1948 aerial above is cool because it shows many of the old docks and waterfront structures that are now gone. I’ll try to highlight a few of these in a later post.

1951 vicinity map (USGS terrain-shaded topo):
1951 topo

1962 map by the Overseas Mineral Cooperation Association (a Japanese mineral investment group):1962 OMCA Map

I have highlighted structures shown on the OMCA map in red. I find it interesting that they show the cabins near Clear Point as well as the cabin between the creeks at Crab Cove.

1979 CIR aerial, taken from a NASA U-2 Spyplane as part of the Alaska High Altitude Aerial Photo project:
1979 Funter Bay

We did have a framed copy of the image above when I was a kid. This is in Color Infrared or CIR, meaning vegetation is shown in false-color red, and you can discern different types of vegetation from the different shades of red (so clearcuts and patches of different trees stand out from the predominant spruce):

1982 aerial photo (Color Infrared, click to open very large original):
1982 Funter Bay

1985 topo map of Mansfield Peninsula:
1985 topo

1987 nautical chart:
1987 chart

1990s topo map:

1996 or 1998 aerial photo (current residents may be able to pick out their houses and cabins in this one!):
1998 Funter Bay

2004 satellite image (sorry, not as high-res):
2004 Funter Bay

And just for fun, here are a few of my own photos from various aircraft passing over Funter.

2010 oblique aerial looking South-ish over Crab Cove, coming through the pass from Juneau:

2011 oblique of Funter Bay as seen looking NW-ish, from an Alaska Airlines jet:

With commercial satellite maps, most companies have yet to include much coverage of Funter Bay. However, if you zoom all the way in on Bing Maps, you’ll get some decently high-resolution imagery (although the light balance is bad).

This site is also really cool:

Similar to the old California Coastline project (but hopefully with less Barbra Streisand), the Alaska Shorezone Viewer allows you to pull up images (and video) of almost the entire Alaska coast! The interface is a little clunky and takes some getting used to, but the images are amazing!

That’s all I’ve got for now. If I come across any more interesting maps of Funter Bay, I will try to post them here!