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The Journal of Fred W. Fickett

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dc.contributor.author Banks, Petra
dc.date.accessioned 2015-11-10T01:15:16Z
dc.date.available 2015-11-10T01:15:16Z
dc.date.issued 2013-04-01
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/11122/6158
dc.description.abstract When I was assigned to transcribe the Fred W. Fickett journal as part of a research project 1 was excited at what the project might bring. Little did 1 know that it would take me on a journey of Alaskan history and the surprising and interesting collection of documents relating to it. The process of transcribing Fickett's journal was both exciting and frustrating. Each page brought new discoveries and new complications. Fickett’s struggles along the way, his descriptions of the horrible things they were forced to eat as their stocks grew thinner and thinner, the difficulty travelling through slushy snow and cold, all were little windows into the past. 1 grew to like Fickett, his descriptions of the horrible food almost had a sense of a badge of honor, a brag about how bad things got. Not all elements of the journal were windows into the past. When the words were obscured or Fickett’s handwriting became illegible I would sit alone in my room and mutter my frustrations and irritations to Fickett and the journal. His misspellings, although indicative of a time when the spellings of words was more fluid, provided me with some amusement along the way. Perhaps the most frustrating portion of the process was the transcribing of his sun observations. They in and of themselves entailed complications with trying to recreate his tables, but they were made worse when he had crossed them out and rewritten new numbers next to the old ones. 1 had some things to say to Fickett about that as well. When it came to write the paper, 1 first began comparing the two primary sources of the journey. Lt. Henry Allen’s report on the 1885 expedition was integral to my research because it provided me with an anchor for what Fickett was describing. By comparing the two I was able to discover facts about the trip that are glossed over in one, but written in detail in another, and it provided me with a fun way to see what each man felt it important to record along the way. One of my most intriguing discoveries was that there seemed to be some suggestion of tension between Fickett and Allen, which was not really enough to confirm solidly, but certainly gave me an impression of some conflict. My research extended outward to the ARL1S and the Consortium library, where I looked for information regarding previous expeditions to see where people had explored prior to Allen and Fickett, and what was said about the trips. There were a number of trips that I found interesting, and that Fickett and Allen had found interesting too. 1 enjoyed finding references to the books 1 was looking at in Fickett and Allen’s journals, and finding references to Fickett and Allen in reports written around the same time. 1 looked also into journals and websites, where I found old Science articles regarding the trip and their discoveries. These articles were interesting insights into what the scientific and lay scientific community found interesting about Alaska. Some of them were written by Allen himself and mirrored what he had put in his report. This is also where I discovered most of the articles that reference the expedition, and Allen’s report in particular. Despite all my research I never found a book or journal that cited Fickett. Although some made mention of the existence of the journal, whether it was read or not remains unclear. My path wrapped full circle, and I found myself again looking into the archives, and discovered that the journal that I was working from and that 1 had transcribed, turned out to be a transcription written by Fickett shortly after he finished his trip from the notes he took along the way. In researching further, I found the original journals he took, and in reading these, 1 discovered that my earlier impressions of tension between Allen and Fickett was, if not confirmed, at least reinforced by additional comments that did not make the transcription 1 had worked from. The archives had more secrets to reveal. I had found an entry regarding a handkerchief that had been used as a flag, and in researching the archives I found the handkerchief. In my head, as I read the journal, the handkerchief I pictured was a white silk handkerchief, so 1 was surprised to see a brightly colored handkerchief, still tied to the stick which had made it into a flag. It was a real connection with history to see this artifact. Although a great deal has happened in Alaska in the past 150 years, so much so that Fickett would barely recognize the places he traveled, I can look at a handkerchief that was carried by the first Euro-Americans to travel to the head of the Copper River. I found this a truly inspiring project. It is the first project where I have felt a part of the research community. Most papers involve research previously done, primarily, but between being the first one to transcribe this journal and writing a comparison between Fickett and Allen's observations, something which I cannot find reference to anywhere else, 1 feel like I have had a small opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the knowledge of Alaskan history. It has been a very exciting experience, and 1 only hope that my efforts will prove to be worthwhile for further research. en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.publisher University of Alaska Anchorage en_US
dc.title The Journal of Fred W. Fickett en_US
dc.type Report en_US


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