February 26, 2004

"Creating Alaska" Project to Highlight 50th

February 26, 2004 NR02-04

The University of Alaska announced today the launch of "Creating Alaska – The Origins of the 49th State," a special project to commemorate, study and celebrate the milestones of Alaska’s drive to statehood.

Under the direction of the office of the UA President, UA Associate Vice President Karen Perdue, and Dr. Terrence Cole of the UAF History Department, the Creating Alaska Project will be a statewide commemoration and celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of the drafting of the Alaska State Constitution and the golden anniversary of statehood. UA Community Relations Director Ann Ringstad and Creating Alaska Administrative Coordinator Joseph Hardenbrook are overseeing day-to-day operations of the project.  Initial funding for this project has been provided through a federal General Services Administration grant and a private grant from the University of Alaska Foundation.

"Although the 50th anniversary of these important events in our state history is several years away, the need for this project is now urgent," said UA Associate Vice President Karen Perdue.  "The key leaders involved in the creation of our statehood have a very important and historical story to relay to give present and future generations a greater understanding of the creation of the great State of Alaska."

The project is overseen by a 23-member Advisory Board composed of Alaska leaders, historians and veterans of the fight for statehood.  The board is co-chaired by Judge Thomas Stewart, who served as Secretary to the Alaska Constitutional Convention, and Brian Rogers, Chair of the University of Alaska Board of Regents and a former member of the Alaska Statehood Commission.  Members of the board include George Sundborg, Sr., Jack Coghill and Victor Fischer, who served as delegates to the Alaska Constitutional Convention in 1955-56.  Also on the board are former governors Mike Stepovich, Jay Hammond and Walter Hickel.  The board’s first meeting was held in November of last year, with the next meeting tentatively scheduled for  later in the year.

This project aims to:

  • Identify existing historical materials pertaining to the Constitutional Convention and events leading up to the Convention and statehood, including relevant oral histories, film and print archives;
  • Capture video tape interviews with the important figures that lead the statehood movement;
  • Archive, at UA libraries and museums, all collected material;
  • Produce a documentary series of interviews and historical perspectives to be aired across the state by the Alaska Public Broadcasting System;
  • Partner with the Alaska Humanities Forum to design a teacher education program to coincide with the anniversary of Alaska’s statehood and constitution;
  • Identify appropriate historical sites associated with the creation of Alaska’s Constitution. UAF and the Creating Alaska project are exploring the possibility of placing UAF’s Signer’s and Constitution Halls on the National Historical Register.

The project has already sponsored the creation of a short documentary entitled "Journey to Statehood" which aired on KUAC/AlaskaOne in November, and is conducting research and oral history work in preparation for the coming anniversaries. This will also be aired on UATV (http://uatv.alaska.edu) on March 2 at 7 p. m. and on March 5 at 1 p. m.

Information can be found on the project website at www.alaska.edu/creatingalaska

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Bob Miller, 907-474-6311