Fairbanks woman saves yesterday’s news for today’s readers
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — An important period of Alaska history is now preserved and available online thanks to longtime Fairbanksan Colleen Redman.
Redman’s brother, pioneer journalist Tom Snapp, was publisher of the All-Alaska Weekly, a newspaper that printed news of Alaska from 1970 to 1987 in Fairbanks. Snapp was relentless in his passion for covering news of the day and known for his diligence — not to mention the All-Alaska Weekly masthead was often emblazoned in red ink. He specialized in police and political reporting.
Snapp worked as a reporter for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner from 1960-1962 after coming north from Virginia to visit his sister. He never left. He co-founded the Tundra Times newspaper with Howard Rock in 1962-1963, worked as editor of the pioneer newspaper Jessen’s Weekly, and then founded the All-Alaska Weekly in 1970. He died in Fairbanks in 1995 at the age of 66.
“Ever since he died, I wanted people to see what he had put all his time into and written, and it was so historical,” Redman said.
She did more than think about it. She made it happen.
An old bus in her backyard, given to her by pioneer Bobby Miller, held 40 years’ worth of historical documents from Snapp and the All-Alaska Weekly. It also held original copies of Jessen’s Weekly, tape-recorded interviews, photographs and more.
“So Tom inherited all this stuff; then I had it,” she said.
Friends suggested a big bonfire would solve all her problems. But then she heard about a local professional organizer and hired Rita Butteri to help make sense of it all. It took two years, but all the work finally paid off.
The bus contained many hard copies of the All-Alaska Weekly, but only two complete sets of every issue — enough for 18 volumes to be shared in a special collection at the Alaska State Library in Juneau.
That is the only state archive that agreed to preserve the hard copies. Every other archive encouraged her to put them on microfilm and throw away the hard copies. According to Redman, the archives in Fairbanks don’t have staff to record the historical documents.
“Nobody here is digitizing,” she said. “They don’t have the staff.”
She arranged personally for every page to be digitzed. Readers can now access the All-Alaska Weekly online at allalaskaweekly.newspaperarchive.com. Her hope is that libraries throughout Alaska will subscribe to newspaperarchive.com, and anyone will be able to read copies of the All-Alaska Weekly free of charge.
And Redman is not done yet. She plans to preserve and document hundreds of tape recordings that Snapp made over the years.
“The main thing is he did them in the open, so no signatures are required,” she said. “He did them in the open during press club or for interviews for newspapers.”
He recorded interviews with historical figures including state leaders Wally Hickel, Steve Cowper, John Butrovich and more.
“I just want him to be honored,” she said. “He was never married. All of his time, all he wanted to do was journalism. His adrenaline would start running when he was on a big story. I just think that ought to be preserved.”
Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com