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Alaska Highway construction primary sources

Alaska Highway construction

This guide consists of collections of primary source material held by Alaskan and Canadian archives, libraries, and museums, as well as United States Federal Archives, which relate to the construction of the Alaska Highway (also known as the ALCAN and the Alaska-Canadian Highway). The guide is divided into three sections based on the location of the repositories where the archival collections are housed. You can navigate between these sections using the menu on the left-hand side of the page. This guide is an overview of collections containing significant amounts of material relating to the construction of the Alaska Highway and is not meant to be comprehensive or include every collection containing material related to the topic. 

Click on the linked collection names for more detailed descriptions of the collections. Not every collection listed has a description online. For more information about a collection, please contact the institution that owns the collection.

If you represent an institution that holds primary source material related to Alaska Highway construction and you would like to see it included in this guide, please contact the UAA/APU Consortium Library Archives and Special Collections.

Alaskan Archives

Alaska State Archives

Alaska State Library Historical Collections

Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center

  • Alaska Highway Collection. B1984.082.004. This collection contains 237 photographs related to the construction of the Alaska Highway.
  • Alaska Highway Construction. B1992.001. This collection contains photographs relating to the construction of the Alaska Highway.
  • Alaska Highway Photographs; 1942-1943. B2000.006. The collection consists of three booklets of photographs (each containing 40 images) and 95 loose photographs of scenes of Alaska Highway construction and life along the highway in the 1940s. 
  • Cheatham Collection. B2005.030.
  • CIHS U.S. Army Engineer District, Alaska, Collection; 1942-1943. B1962.x.015. 
  • The collection consists of 28 black-and-white official U.S. and Canadian Army photographs of
  • Alaska Highway construction. B1993.001.
  • Robert Ewing Alaska highway construction photographs, ca. 1940s. B2012.026. Robert Ewing worked on the construction of the Alaska Highway. The collection consists of 55 black-and-white photographic prints of highway construction.
  • Irvin Collection. B2005.001. 
  • James J. Irvin Photographs. B2009.050.
  • Truman Markegard Collection; 1942-1943. B2016.016. The collection consists of two photograph albums containing 103 black-and-white snapshots of scenes from the construction of the Alaska Highway, as well as one loose snapshot and eight loose postcards. 
  • Mealy Collection. B1992.030. This collection contains photographs relating to the construction of the Alaska Highway.
  • Albert G. Miller Photographs; 1940-1954. B2002.016. The collection consists of 115 black-and-white photographs of Alaska Highway construction, Aleutian Islands during World War II, and Alaskan scenes.
  • Joseph G. Rich Alaska Highway Collection; 1942-1988 (bulk 1942-1943). B2015.003. The collection consists of 9 black-and-white photographs and published ephemera pertaining to the construction of the Alaska Highway in 1942-1943. 
  • Von Der Heydt Photograph Collection. B1978.079. This collection contains photographs relating to the construction of the Alaska Highway. 

UAA/APU Consortium Library Archives and Special Collections

  • Omer D. Clark Canol Pipeline construction photographs; circa 1943-1944. HMC-0642. Clark was employed as a civilian construction worker on the Canol Pipeline. A majority of the collection pertains to the construction of the Canol Pipeline, however the collection includes photographic postcards of Alaska Highway construction scenes. 
  • Donald F. Culver papers; 1942-1980. HMC-1211. Papers and photographs of a man who served with the 74th Engineer Company during the construction of the ALCAN. 
  • John Andrew Higgins papers; 1914-1950, bulk 1942-1946. HMC-0538. Scrapbook of a U.S. Navy Seabee stationed in Alaska during WWII and who worked on construction of the Alaska Highway. Some photographs depict Alaska Highway construction, workers, and supply facilities, as well as the CANOL oil refinery in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.
  • Howard and Mabel Jonish papers; 1910-1989. HMC-0428. The collection contains the papers, photographs, post cards, and color slides of Howard and Mabel Jonish relating to their life in Alaska as well as the various construction projects on which Howard Jonish worked. The collection includes photographs taken during Alaska Highway construction.
  • Bud Krier papers; 1943-1944, 1975. HMC-0709. Photographs and papers of construction on the telephone line along the Alaska Highway in 1943.
  • Lyle Sherman Leseberg photograph albums; 1943. HMC-1151-AHS. Lyle Sherman Leseberg was a soldier in the United States Army during the construction of the Alcan Highway. The collection includes photographs taken and/or collected by Leseberg during the construction of the Highway.
  • William Herbert Newlove photographs and postcards; 1942-1944. HMC-0608. Newlove worked as part of the construction crew on the Alaska Highway, possibly as an employee of the Sears Construction Company of Iowa. The collection contains photographs taken during his time working on a Alaska Highway construction crew. Subjects include construction workers and support staff, equipment, vehicles, buildings, and pipe-laying activities.
  • Charles H. Palda papers; 1942-1944. HMC-1040-AHS. Senior partner of Okes Construction Company, managing contractor for work done on part of the Alaska Highway.
  • T. Saplak Alaska Highway construction photographs; 1942-1943. HMC-0540. Photographs of the area between Dawson Creek and the Sikanni Chief River in British Columbia during the construction of the Alaska Highway.
  • Jerome F. Sheldon papers; 1885-1994. HMC-0220. Subject files, research materials, and articles of a newspaperman and free-lance writer. Member of the U. S. Army's 18th Engineer Regiment constructing the Alaska Highway during World War II.
  • Florentine A. Traxler Alaska Highway construction papers; 1943-1944. HMC-0912. Memorabilia, photographs, and newspapers of a woman who worked for Dowell Construction Co. during the construction of the Alaska Highway. 
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Soldier’s Alaska Highway Construction photographs; 1942-1945. HMC-0501. This collection includes photographs taken during construction of the Alaska Highway in British Columbia and the Yukon Territory.
  • U.S. National Park Service. Alaska Highway planning survey photographs; 1943. HMC-0285. The collection consists of the first volume of a set of photographic albums prepared by the NPS as part of the Alaska Highway Land Planning Survey. The photographs show various scenes along the Alaska Highway including Big Delta Tangent, the construction of the Johnson River Bridge, Tok Junction, and Mentasta Lake.
  • Albert Weir photographs; circa 1942-1945. HMC-1203. The collection contains photographs taken of various points along the ALCAN during its construction. 
  • C. Wilbert Alaska Highway construction photographs; circa 1943-1945. HMC-0494. The collection contains photographs and postcards of the Alaska Highway construction. Subjects include work crews, construction equipment, building materials, and scenes along the Highway, such as hospitals, hospital staff, and wildlife. 

University of Alaska Fairbanks Alaska and Polar Regions Collections and Archives Historical Manuscript Collections

For more detailed collection descriptions, please visit StarArchives, the catalog for archival collections at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and search for the collections using the search box on the main page.

  • Alaska Highway Photograph Collections. circa 1943. USUAFV6-650. The collection contains photographs depicting the construction of the Alaska Canada Highway around 1943.
  • Alaska Highway Construction Photographs. circa 1943. USUAFV4-260. The Alaska Highway Construction Photographs consist of 85 images on postcard stock taken along the route of the Alaska Highway during construction of the highway. While the bulk of the images are of the landscape and scenery through which the highway was built, a significant number of images show the equipment, stages of road construction and personnel involved in building the highway.
  • Alaska Highway Snap Show Album. 1942. USUAFV3-222. The Alaska Highway Snap Shot Album consists of one leather-bound album containing 229 black-and-white photographs documenting construction of the Alaska Highway and highway construction camp life during World War II.
  • Buck, Rexford A. Photograph Collection. 1942-1944. 1991-091. Rexford Buck was the director of civilian personnel with the Army Engineers, 1942-1944.  This collection consists of photographic slides taken during and of the construction of the Alaska Highway.
  • Joe Palmer Camery Photographs. ca. 1943-1945. USUAFV6-1063. Joe Palmer Camery was a civil engineer from Harlan, Shelby County, Iowa who worked mainly on steel truss bridge construction. He worked on the Alaska Highway from circa 1943-1945. Images include Yerrick's Creek which is 20 miles west of Tok near Tanacross and the camp Camery and his colleagues used; Cathedral Rapids which is around 24 miles from Tok; the construction of the Robertson River bridge at mile 1353 Alaska Highway; excursions to Fairbanks and Circle Hot Springs; and several images of bears in camp or near the work-site.
  • Carstens, Peggy and Heinrich "Heine" Collection. 1942, 1971-1980 (Peggy and Bob Carstens). USUAFV6-602. Bob "Heinie" Carstens came to Alaska in 1923. He successfully mined for gold, had a claim at Eagle Creek, and worked on the construction of the Alaska Highway. This collection includes six photographs of the construction the Alaska Highway.
  • Christensen, Rod Photographs. circa 1942. USUAFV6-340. The Rod Christensen Photographs consist of 357 images of personnel, machinery, camp life, construction activities, wildlife, and scenery along the Alaska Highway in the course of its construction during World War II.
  • Collins, Richard and Florence Papers. 1930s-1950s (Collins, Florence Papers). USUAFV4-97. Richard Collins came to Alaska during WWII and served as a level-man during the construction of the Alaska Highway. The collection includes photographs taken of Alaska Highway construction, which include scenery, activities, equipment, and people.
  • Correll, Donovan S. Collection. ca. 1898-1973. USUAFV3-176. Donovan Correll worked briefly in Alaska as a member of the Alaska Highway Botanical-Geological Survey Party in 1943. His collection includes photographs relating to Correll's participation in the Alaska Highway Botanical-Geological Survey Party of the Joint Economic Committees, Canada-United States (1943), clippings concerning the Alaska Highway and the CANOL project.
  • Dimond, Anthony J., Papers. 1904-1953. USUAF98. Anthony Dimond served as a member of the Alaska Territorial Senate from 1923-1926 and from 1929-1932. In 1933, Dimond was elected as Territorial Delegate to the 73rd and the 5 succeeding U.S. Congresses. He was confirmed in 1945 as U.S. District Judge for the 3rd Judicial Division of Alaska and, in 1949, served as a member of the Alaska Statehood Committee. His collection includes files regarding the Alaska Highway.
  • Gillette, Clair Frederick Papers. 1943. USUAFV3-80. Clair Frederick Gillette worked as a pickup truck driver and mail carrier on the Tok to Fairbanks, Alaska, route for construction contractors J. Leo Hoak and Lytle & Green Construction in 1943. The collection contains two photographs, portions of two letters home, permits to drive on the Alaska Highway, a contract with construction contractor J. Leo Hoak, and other memorabilia associated with Gillette's time as a pickup truck driver for Hoak and for Lytle & Green Construction Company.
  • Gray, Lloyd Papers. circa 1930-circa 1996. USUAFV4-147. Lloyd Gray was a pilot during World War II and he spent time in Fort Saint John, British Columbia, the Yukon Territory, and in Alaska along the Alaska Highway during its construction. Images in the collection include work done on the Alaska Highway by the Okes Construction Company.
  • Haigh, Jane "Alaska or Bust" Curator Collection. 1992 (Alaska Highway Exhibit Collection). USUAFV3-100. In 1992, the University of Alaska Museum exhibit Alaska or Bust commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the Alaska Highway. Jane Haigh, the curator of the show, donated these research and resource files used in the creation of the exhibit. This collection of short essays accompanied the museum exhibit on the 50th anniversary of the completion of the Alaska Highway in 1992.
  • Haman, Ray C. Papers. circa 1943-1948. USUAFV6-3. This collection contains a diary written by Haman in 1943 while employed in construction of the Alaska Highway, as well as photographs of people, equipment, buildings, camps, ships, railroads, aerial views and landscapes, taken during highway construction.
  • Hodge, Walter W. Papers. circa 1925-1948. (Drake, Willie Hodge Photographs; Hodge, Major Walter Diary Collection). USUAFV4-259. Walter Hodge worked with the Army Corps of Engineers in charge of the early surveying for the Alaska Highway and commanded construction of the Highway between the Canadian border and the Northway, Alaska airfield. His collection includes photographs taken during the construction of the Highway.
  • Hughes, Cyril "Terry" Photographs. circa 1943. USUAFV6-987. This collection contains photographs of Alaska Highway construction on the Alaska and Yukon sides. Images include flooded camps and roadways, vehicles mired in mud, removal of the stuck vehicles, fellow workers, buildings, boats and bridges.
  • James, James Monroe (Pat) Photograph Collection. circa 1944. USUAFV5-138. The James Monroe (Pat) James Photograph Collection consists of 88 black-and-white photographs of work and scenery along the Canadian portion of the Alaska Highway while it was under construction. Images include construction camps, earthmoving equipment and other vehicles, and personnel, including one photograph of a group of African American soldiers.
  • Carl E. Jenkins Papers. circa 1942-2003. USUAFV6-975. In 1942, Jenkins was hired as a lineman to help build a telephone line adjacent to the Alaska Highway. This collection contains a photo album, loose photographs and postcards, pamphlets, booklets, and newspapers clippings, most of which document Mr. Jenkins' involvement with working on the Alaska Highway.
  • Kemble, Harold E. Photograph Collection. circa 1943. USUAFV6-305. During World War II, Harold E. Kemble of Lincoln, Nebraska, was a member of the Corps of Engineers helping to build the Alaska Highway. The collection consists of 137 images of construction of the Alaska Highway, including landscapes, persons, equipment, buildings, aerial views and street scenes, as well as general scenes of Alaska and the Yukon.
  • Leaphart, Frank E. Collection. ca. 1916-1944. USUAFV6-386. The Frank Leaphart Collection contains photographs, a highway engineer handbook, certificates and postcards, which all related to his time working on the Alaska Highway.
  • MacDonald, Donald Family Papers. 1920-1955. USUAFV5-228. Donald MacDonald II was employed as a locating engineer on highway construction for the Alaska Road Commission. In the 1920s and 1930s, MacDonald became a strong advocate for an international highway connecting Alaska with the lower 48. During World War II, he was appointed to the International Highway Commission by President Roosevelt and helped to build the Alcan Highway. The collection consists of correspondence, photographs, publications, reports, notes, and articles relating primarily to MacDonald's career as a road engineer and his role in the construction of the Alaska Highway.
  • Mikkelson, Jasper G. Scrapbook. 1942-1943. USUAFV3-106. J. G. Mikkelson was a procurement officer for Dowell Construction Company during the building of the Alaska Highway. This collection is on microfiche and related to the construction of the Alaska Highway.
  • Moreland, Col. J.W. Diary. 1943. (Luster-Moreland World War II Diary). USUAFV5-70. Col. J. W. Moreland served at Ladd Field during World War II as an engineer and coordinated projects related to the construction of the Alcan (now Alaska) Highway. The diary documents the daily activities of Col. Moreland while stationed at Ladd Field (Fort Wainwright), Alaska.
  • Morgan, Lael Collection. 1940s-2000. USUAFV3-59. The collection includes material and research from a museum exhibit curated by Morgan called “Miles and Miles,” about African-American veterans working on the ALCAN Highway.
  • Olson, Ernest Earl Photographs. Circa 1943. USUAFV6-216. The collection consists of photographs taken of and by Ernest Earl Olson while working on the Alaska Highway during World War II. Images include Olson with coworkers and on heavy machinery and trucks, temporary camps, equipment mired in mud, paving of the road, machinery, wildlife, and some of the other soldiers and laborers.
  • Parker, Donald Photograph Album. 1942-1943. USUAFV5-60. The Parker Photograph Album depicts the construction of the Alaska Highway in the 1940s.
  • Remley, David Papers. 1966-1982. USUAFV6-1050. David Remley was a professor in the English Department at the University of New Mexico. He has written several books on historical topics including “Crooked Road: The Story of the Alaska Highway.” The collection contains research files for Remley’s book "Crooked Road: The Story of the Alaska Highway." The majority of the collection is notes and photocopies compiled by Remley throughout the research process for his book. Also included is the system of index cards Remley used to organize his research files.
  • Smith, George T.C. "Smitty" Collection. 1942-1944. USUAFV5-121. The collection consists of approximately 240 photographs taken by Smith while he worked for the Utah Construction Company during the building of the Alaska Highway in the 1940s. The images depict the workers, equipment, and scenery encountered while building their stretch of the highway.
  • Tanana River Bridge Album. 1943-1944. USUAFV5-597. The Tanana River Bridge Album contains photographs of the construction of the Tanana River Bridge on the Alaska Highway. Images include construction crews and activities, animals and landscapes in the vicinity of the construction. The album was compiled by John Canty who worked as an accountant during the construction of the Tanana River Bridge from 1943 to 1944.
  • Vanderburg, Willis G. Photographs. 1943. USUAFV6-370. Willis Vanderburg was a war correspondent and photographer under the supervision of the Northwest Service Command. The collection includes photographs taken by Vanderburg, some of which document the construction of the Alaska Highway.
  • Waugaman, Candace Collection. 1889-. USUAFV3-124. The Candace Waugaman Collection consists of historical manuscripts, photographs, memorabilia, and ephemera donated by private collector and local historian Candace Waugaman. It is continually receiving new additions. Within the collection are some materials related to the construction of the Alaska Highway.
  • Windland Family Photograph Collection. 1939-1945. USUAFV4-157. Guy Windland came to Alaska at various times between 1939 and 1945 and was a construction worker who helped build the Alaska Highway. The collection includes photographs taken of construction on the Alaska Highway.

University of Alaska Fairbanks Alaska Film Archives

  • Alaska Highway; 1944. AAF-180. Story of Alaska Highway construction (ALCAN) during World War II. Images include Caterpillar tractors clearing forests, building roads, pulling trucks and other equipment. Men survey, shovel, build bridges, cut wood, live in camps, operate equipment and build runways. Equipment includes Caterpillar tractors, dump trucks, airplanes, road graders, trains, power shovels, pipeline equipment and truck convoys. Settlements include Skagway, Fairbanks, Ladd Field, Whitehorse, and Dawson City.
  • Alaska Highway; 1955. AAF-180. Story of Alaska Highway construction (ALCAN) during World War II. Images include Caterpillar tractors clearing forests, building roads, pulling trucks and other equipment. Men survey, shovel, build bridges, cut wood, live in camps, operate equipment and build runways. Equipment includes Caterpillar tractors, dump trucks, airplanes, road graders, trains, power shovels, pipeline equipment and truck convoys. Settlements include Skagway, Fairbanks, Ladd Field, Whitehorse, and Dawson City.
  • The Alaska Highway; 1965. 10-UF-170. Tells the story of the Alaska Highway. Discusses the military and economic justifications for the construction of the highway, the problems of penetrating nearly 2,000 miles into the wilderness, and the payment agreements of Canada and the United States. Shows scenes of the highway from Dawson Creek in British Columbia, to Fairbanks, Alaska, during all seasons of the year, noting social and economic effects of the highway on the area it traverses.
  • Alaska Highway Project '92, Rendezvous Road; [1992?]. AAF-10464. A brief history of the building of the Alcan Highway, focusing on events celebrating the 50th anniversary of the completion of that highway.
  • [ALCAN Highway construction]; [between 1942 and 1947]. AAF-10497. Filmed by John R. Swanson during the time that he worked on construction of the Alaska Highway. Scenes include sign for the Robert Lowe Bridge across Miles Canyon near Whitehorse, river rapids, small boat on river or lake, muddy roadbed, cars traveling on muddy road, tracked vehicle, camp site, road construction activities, views of road from ridge top, dump truck and steam shovel at work, autumn colors, men walking on road, man driving, vehicles on road, men wearing orange or red hats, men at camp, and row of canvas tents.
  • [Alcan Highway construction, Lumberjack Days parade, mining operations, highway construction and Fairbanks, River scenes and Eagle]; [between 1939 and 1970]. AAF9768 to AAF-9772. Contains moving image taken during the construction of the Alaska Highway. 
  • Highway to Alaska; [1041 or 1942]. AAF-307. Images include scenes of construction and difficulties encountered during construction of the Alcan Highway.

 

Other Institutions

Credits

This guide is supported in whole or in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Alaska State Library.