Nome: Nome News Publishing Co., 1903. 68pp., plus two folding maps. 12mo. Original printed wrappers. Spine perishing, light dampstaining to wraps; wraps separating at spine ends. Dampstaining continues internally, light tanning. Good plus. Item #1741
A rare directory and guide for Nome and the Seward Peninsula, published in 1903 at the height of the Nome Gold Rush by E.S. Harrison, the proprietor of the local newspaper. Harrison subsequently published several additional guides as well as a history and account of the region in northwestern Alaska; however, the present work is his first and rarest effort.
The personal directory, according to Harrison's preface, consists of "a comparatively accurate list of people who were in Nome and Council last winter," as well as an addendum that "contains also the names of a few prominent people who came to Nome this season." The initial pages contain descriptions and facts concerning Nome and the Seward Peninsula; a brief account of gold production there since the beginning of the gold rush in 1898; and lists of city officials, teachers, schools, and post offices. The final leaves contain a directory of businesses in Nome, listed alphabetically by type, and a brief personal and business directory of Council City. The whole is supplemented by numerous local business advertisements. The large folding map at the front of the volume is a reasonably detailed chart of the peninsula, which Harrison claims was produced on, "a plate made by Ernst Bros., who have a small but well equipped photo-engraving plant," although he goes on to blame any potential defects in the map on the lack of a single plate large enough for the job. The smaller map tipped into the rear of the volume delineates the routes of the Council City & Solomon River Railroad, which opened the same year this work was published, and operated only until 1907. Harrison concludes his introduction to the directory by stating that, "This booklet is entirely a home production. The press work was done in the office of the Nome News, and the composition by the News and Nugget. No doubt some errors will be found in the work, as the publisher has not had the time to revise or read revised proofs."
Despite the apparent haste with which this guide was composed, it is still an enormously valuable work for its distillation of a region of Alaska at the height of its gold boom and for its provision of details regarding individuals and businesses there as towns began to grow exponentially. The directory is also quite a rare survival -- we locate only two copies, at the University of Alaska and the Alaska State Library.