There’s a new group in town, and
it’s looking to learn more about Kodiak’s history. Anjuli Grantham is the
curator of collections at the Baranov
Museum and brainchild
behind Kodiak History Detectives. She said the idea for the group came to her
after hearing about something similar in Washington State.
She said various organizations are working together in Washington to train individuals on how to
collect, research and better document information about the state’s relatively
unknown role in the Civil War. Grantham said the state’s method of crowd
sourcing research isn’t just effective in gathering information, but also
educating and engaging a community in local history.
born from the mission in Washington,
Kodiak History Detectives aren’t researching the Civil War. Instead, Grantham
organized the group to look at various under researched eras in Alaska’s history.
-- (Hist Detec 1 :33 “We just had our first meeting on Monday … period in Kodiak.”)
said the early American period is typically referred to as the years following Alaska’s purchase in
1867, until the Katmai eruption.
-- (Hist Detec 2 :23 “And
so it’s this 50 year chunk of time that ... in Fairbanks.”)
visited the records last year to copy and photograph thousands of documents.
She said even then she was only scratching the surface of the amount of
information the Alaska Commercial Company kept. Those documents are now the
material that the “detectives” are reading and organizing to better understand
the history of this era. Grantham said people often assume commercial records
are dull because they consist of purchase orders or money exchanges, but even
those provide a unique glimpse into Kodiak’s past as far as what people needed to
buy more than 120 years ago.
-- (Hist Detec 3 :31 “But then we also have this
really … stuff comes up.”)
read from one of those letters, a particularly intriguing one that was found
while sifting through documents on Monday.
-- (Hist Detec 4 :31 “So this is a letter that was
written from … be apprehended.”)
member of Kodiak History Detectives was given 50 pages of letters, ledgers and
other documents ranging in age from 120 to 130-years-old. Grantham said the
documents are primarily handwritten, which makes reading the cursive style somewhat
difficult. She said the detectives will meet again in April to review the
documents they were tasked with reading and work toward cataloging the
information they contain.