• Distant vistas: Bradford Washburn, expeditionary science and landscape, 1930-1960

      Sfraga, Michael P.; Pearson, Roger (1997)
      Bradford Washburn is primarily known for his Alaskan mountaineering accomplishments and mountain photography. Between 1930 and 1960, Washburn led 19 expeditions to Alaska and Canada's Yukon Territory on which he surveyed, photographed and mapped some of the last unexplored mountain regions in North America. This study, however, analyzes Washburn's lesser known role in directing interdisciplinary field research involving high altitude physics, glaciology, cartography and geology, which he accomplished by linking such disparate entities as the motion picture industry, geographic organizations, the U.S. military, and prominent U.S. scientists. Washburn's career can be viewed as an intersection of nineteenth and twentieth century geographic traditions. He combined emerging technologies with new and innovative vehicles of exploration to more accurately study geological, geographical and environmental phenomenon in mountainous regions. During the Second Great Age of Discovery, which began with the Renaissance, explorers ventured into the heart of the world's continents by utilizing various vehicles of exploration such as canoes and pack animals. This style continued into the middle of the twentieth century when the present day Third Great Age of Discovery, characterized by the use of remote sensing platforms and space age satellites, allows for a more accurate geographic study and inventory of our planet. Washburn's interdisciplinary field work reflects the fundamental goals and patterns of expeditionary science found in both ages of discovery. In this study three important themes are examined: Washburn's role as innovative field scientist; geography as a disciplinary bridge; and the work of the independent geographer. By analyzing Washburn's work in the pre World War Two and Cold War era, we gain an understanding of the ways in which expeditionary science was funded and carried out within two fundamentally different political and economic frameworks. Moreover, this study provides an important window into our understanding of interdisciplinary earth sciences in the mid twentieth century. It also explores the often unappreciated link between environmental science and geography in the American context.
    • M.D. Snodgrass: The Founder Of The Alaska State Fair

      Colberg, Talis James (2008)
      This dissertation presents the life of M.D. Snodgrass as an example of how the Alaskan frontier transformed an unremarkable middle aged migrant into a socially prominent civic leader. The life of M.D. Snodgrass exemplifies how American frontier society provides ordinary people with exceptional opportunities to flourish and prosper. One of the end results of Snodgrass's taking advantage of Alaskan frontier opportunity was the Alaska State Fair. The dissertation divides the life of Snodgrass into four phases with the following findings: (1) The first thirty-one years of Snodgrass's life was spent outside of Alaska. His early life in Kansas demonstrates: the forces which formed Snodgrass, the absence of noteworthy activities and the habits he embraced that would remain constant in his long life. (2) The second thesis section documents: how upon arrival in Alaska he was immediately confronted with challenges and opportunities in the wilderness that built his self-confidence, and how he devoted most of the last six decades of his life to advancement of agriculture in Alaska. (3) The third part addresses his political career, with the following observations: the unsettled frontier society had no established upper class and he became socially mobile; being present at the creation of a political system allowed him to attain extraordinary prominence rapidly; and he learned to take risks, to lose and yet keep trying. (4) The final phase demonstrates that by definition a frontier society lacks institutions, and Snodgrass seized the opportunity to be a participant in the creation of two colleges and became the founding figure of the Alaska State Fair. The author concludes that had M.D. Snodgrass never left Kansas he probably would never have been a representative, senator, college trustee, founder of experiment stations, state presidential elector, or the founder of a state fair. A normal individual can accomplish exceptional feats in a frontier setting where the open environment encourages the development of human potential.
    • Margaret Keenan Harrais: A Biography In Four Voices

      Doetschman, Sarah; Carr, Richard (2011)
      Narrative strategies available to biography are explored through the life of Margaret Keenan Harrais---teacher, educational administrator, judge, and activist. Biography is a particular endeavor requiring flexible inquiry and creative presentation. Margaret is viewed through multiple lenses that explore personhood, encourage readers' introspection, and imply the importance of the individual in history. The four voices indicated in the title of this dissertation are editorial, analytical, sparsely Romantic, and expository. This biography aims to complicate readers' notions of what it means to be a person in relation to other people by focusing closely on selected episodes in Margaret's career; analyzing their historical, social, and literary import; and finally broadening the perspective to include the entirety of Margaret's life. The roles of the biographer and the reader are examined throughout in an attempt to explore the interconnections between biography and autobiography. Margaret's life is presented within the contexts of other women teachers in rural areas, as well as other men and women who wrote about territorial Alaska for a non-Alaskan audience. At heart this biography seeks to experiment with the narrative possibilities available to biographers, and to explore the ways in which the effects of these narratives allow for the contribution to general scholarship on the basis of particular experiences.
    • Maybe An Answer Is In There: Life Story In Dialogue

      Carroll, Jennifer L. L.; Schneider, Bill (2010)
      This dissertation explores the ways in which Gwich'in women's lives have changed over the past century through the life story and historical and cultural reflections of Vera Englishoe, a Neets'qii Gwich'in woman in her late 50s from Venetie and Fort Yukon. Vera's story illustrates one woman's pathway through changing times and provides an example of resilience in the face of family and community turmoil. This work also shows how Vera uses stories to sustain herself and others amid dialogues that challenge Gwich'in identity and how the Gwich'in approach to knowledge, understanding, and stories emphasize personal experience and accountability, promotes independent thinking on the part of the listener and acknowledges ambiguity and multiplicity in meaning. Through Vera's dialogue we see how stories of personal experience are offered to help others understand their own experiences and how putting stories into writing can be an extension of this tradition. Vera hopes her stories will remind people of the strength of Gwich'in culture and community and that they help others with similar experiences: that "maybe an answer is in there." In this work I employ a dialogic approach to reading Vera's stories because this comes closest to Vera's and Gwich'in ideas about how knowledge and understanding is gained and passed on through stories. Each person's experiences lead them to engage in the dialogue differently and thus find their own understanding. Offering a story acknowledges the ambiguity of understanding and the fluidity of storytelling and story listening. Through exploring multiple discourses and providing a "reading" instead of an interpretation of Vera's narrative I hope that "maybe something is in there" that will help others understand Vera's words. Vera's approach to her life story illustrates a way of using life stories not simply to record culture and history, but to engage others in a broader attempt to create and reinforce shared meaning and identity. This requires a way of looking at the collaborative process in the production of life histories that emphasizes continuing dialogues and negotiated meanings between all parties.
    • Walk Softly With Me: Adventures Of A Woman Big-Game Guide In Alaska

      Mcleod-Everette, Sharon Esther; Murray, John A. (1993)
      Walk Softly With Me: Adventures of a Woman Big-Game Guide in Alaska is a memoir blending adventure, description, dialogue, and humor. The animals and landscapes in Interior Alaska are revealed through the eyes of a woman tackling the male-dominated arena of big-game guiding. The thesis describes the author's evolution from hunting rabbits and tender moose for subsistence to leading clients in search of trophies. In an attempt to provide an objective view of the ethics of hunting and game management, the author explores the question of why we hunt and our relationship with the animals we pursue.<p> The thesis is written in informal first person point of view, beginning with early homesteading life and moving through scenes with hunters and other guides. The natural history of animals is woven into the narrative, as are the changes that the author experiences. The thesis culminates with the author's introspective look at why she guides and whether she will continue. <p>