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How to Find Public Records in Alaska

Public Records Search: Alaska State Archives

Searching for public records and information is easily performed with Alaska’s State Public Records Archives, a navigable site that may be found at archives.state.ak.us. Researchers will discover that Alaska has an extensive collection of archives including annual reports, birth and death records, meeting minutes, court and probate, naturalization records, correspondence, publications and much more.

Like nearly all state archival holdings, the Alaska State Archives is open to the public. The Alaska State Archives can be found at 141 Willoughby Avenue, Juneau, AK 99811. They are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 4:30. To reach them by phone dial 907-465-2465. The staff may also be contacted by email at archives @ eed.state.ak.us. Individual researchers and staff may be contacted at their own email addresses listed on the site.

The website is a wonderfully useful tool. As the site states, individuals may “learn about a long lost relative, research a business owned and operated in Alaska, discover the history behind a bill, or expand your understanding of a moment in Alaska's history.” There is a vast array of records held in the state collection that may be procured through this site.

When contacting the site for various records, the Alaska State Archives requires any or all of the following information: “time and place of birth in Alaska, date and place of death, school he/she attended, marriage/divorce in Alaska, land ownership status, business ownership, profession, involvement in a lawsuit, Alaska naturalization status, military service. Any additional information may also prove helpful for locating exactly those documents, any documents, you may require.

Because the archives themselves may not actually hold all the records researchers typically desire, the site provides links to where these items may be found—either through this site or a similar Alaska agency related to record searching. Their list of links includes adoption, Alaska natives, vital records, burial places, census archives, historical photographs, civil and criminal cases after 1959, census records, obituaries, land ownership, school certificates, diplomas, GED records, etc…

The site also provides the addresses for various Alaskan agencies that may provide more recent records of vital information, military service, etc…The site lists no fees associated with a search, but when contacting the site, researchers may want to address this as a significantly large search nearly always involves both a fee and time limit—certainly there will be fees for copies, but this is not directly stated on the website. Many sites do provide free searches for a single name search; apparently, Alaska does too.

If you return to the home page, the very last link on the page is for Vilda (Virtual Library and Digital Archives). Click here to check out some of the online resources held by the state. This online collection of archives contains maps, textual documents, film clips, videos, photographs, written and oral histories, etc…As a sample search, look for the data entry box near the top left hand side of the page and type in the word “court.” You will be directed to a listing of resources that includes digitized records and images. You can click on the thumbnail of the document or image to view it in large form and obtain its information directly from the site. This search engine and viewing system is excellent and easy to use.

Back at the main page, it’s worth noting that the Alaska State Archives provides another program of interest. The site has a collection of archived photographs that require identification. Consequently, the public may view and offer help if they can. The site is still apparently a work-in-progress on many levels with new records coming into the archives and more and more of them becoming digitized. At this point, researchers will still require the help of a staff member to procure necessary information, but in the not-too-distant future, many of these records may be easy to find online on your own.

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