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Frances Ross papers

Identifier: Mss-254
Stefansson Mss-254

  • Staff Only


The Frances A. Ross Papers contain material chronicling her life and that of her father US Coast Guard Boatswain Thomas A. Ross of Nome, Alaska. The papers include 53 tape recordings, from 1982-1990, of commentary and recollections by Frances Ross with accompanying documentation, including personal correspondence with family members; professional correspondence with anthropologists and government officials; journals; photographs; autobiographical writings; financial documents; flyers; artifacts (including ivory carvings, Inuit jewelry, military badges, and her father’s U.S. Coast Guard ceremonial sword); newspaper clippings and newsletters. Of note are Ross’ memories of her professional relationship with Arctic explorer Vihljalmur Stefansson and her encounters with other Arctic explorers, as well as Alaskan life in general in the early 20th century. Also of note are Ross’ materials on King Island, Alaska, including over 500 color slides; photographs, including a collection of photographs by Father Bernard Hubbard; her diary from her time on King Island; a transcribed diary written by Father Bellarmine LaFortune, recounting the Jesuit mission history on King Island; Ross’ 1958 Stanford Masters thesis, “The Eskimo House,” a study of the role of the Ukiovak community building within the King Island community; audio reels containing songs and lectures of King Islanders; an LP record; two audiotapes with songs and stories of the King Islanders; and financial documents and correspondence related to the island’s economy before it was abandoned in 1970.

Note: In January 2010 the audio tapes were digitized.

The collection is arranged in 6 series:

Series I: Audiotapes Contains fifty-two audio tapes (tape nos. 21 and 45 lacking) recorded between 1982 and 1990, addressed to Philip Cronenwett, former Chief of Special Collections and Curator of Manuscripts at Dartmouth College. The tapes record recollections and commentary chronicling the life of Frances A. Ross and to a lesser extent that of her father Thomas A. Ross. Each tape has retained its corresponding materials arranged by Ross; among them are photographs, newspaper clippings, magazines, newsletters, flyers, audio reels, lectures, manuscripts, notes, slides, vocabulary cards, artifacts, prints, diplomas and ephemera. Oversized materials corresponding to the audiotape packets are housed at the end of the series I in boxes 10-13.

Series II: Educational Materials Chronicles Frances A. Ross's academic career in sociology and anthropology at the University of Washington (1928-1931), Stanford University (1955-1958), and the University of Wisconsin (1960-1962). Included in this material are lecture notes, curricula, and writings.

Series III: Correspondence Contains professional and personal correspondence (1950's-1980's), personal and financial documents, documents related to Thomas A. Ross (1940's-1950's) and the Nome Fire of 1934.

Series IV: Teaching/Research Materials related to Frances A. Ross’s teaching and census research in Kobuk, Barrow, and Ambler, Alaska for the Bureau of Indian Affairs from 1958-1960; including correspondence, health records, student records, census data, administrative records, teaching materials and the manuscript (in stenographer's pads) of her "Kobuk Diary."

Series V: Jesuit Missions in Alaska Material related to the Jesuit Mission on King Island including a digitized audiotape of recollections by Frances A. Ross of the various Jesuit priests that served on mainland Alaska and on King Island.

Series VI: Photographs/Artifacts/Audio Contains unidentified photographs as well as images and negatives of King Island

Detailed subject of tapes:

Tape 1 Commentary on the following books: Biography of Father Bellarmine LaFortune S.J by Father Renner, “Seasons of the Eskimo” by Fred Bruemmer, “Earth and the Great Weather: The Brooks Range” by Kenneth Brower, “Eskimos of the Tundra” by Genesis, “My Polar Flights” by Umberto Nobile, “The Log of Bob Bartlett” by Bob Bartlett, “A Whaler in the Arctic” by Arthur James Allen, “Karluk” by William McKinley, “The Log of the Auxiliary Schooner Yacht Northern Light” by John Borden, “Alaska the Trailblazers of Bygone Days”, “Unsolved Mysteries of the Arctic” by Vilhjalmer Stefansson, “Alone” by Richard Bird, “The Story of Mathew Hanson” by Bradley Robinson, “Coming into the Country” by John McPhee, “Arctic Discovery, Give or Take a Century: An Eskimo Chronicle” by Josef E. Senungetuk, “Arctic Trader” by John Scott, “One Survived” by Gregory Yalyak, “Harpoon of the Hunter” by Markoosie, “Meditations on Hunting,” “My Way of the North – An Alaskan Biography” by Frank Dufresne, “To The Northmagnetic Pole and Through the North Passage” by Roald Amundsen, “One Man’s Gold Rush” by Murray Morgan

Tape 2 Commentary and recollections of Thomas A. Ross and the early days of the US Coast Guard in Nome, Alaska; History of the Stefansson collection and life at Morton Street, Stefansson’s offices in New York City; Lindbergh in Nome; Trading Boat Nanuck tragedy; Cook vs. Amundsen on North Pole; King Island Thesis; Evelyn Stefansson and Dartmouth College; Arctic Institute of North America.

Tape 3 Commentary and recollections on Stefansson’s office on Morton Street, New York continued; Ruth Gruber’s books; Jewish Refugees and Stefansson; Stefansson and McCarthy; US Coast Guard Nome, Alaska; Nome and King Island in the 1980’s; Greeley Expedition; Rasmussen, the authority on Eskimos; Captains of the US Coast Guard Cutter Bear; Balto and Leonard Szeplar; Jesuit Priests; Anthropologists Herdlicza and Mead; Spitsbergen and Airships; Icebreaker Polar Star.

Tape 4 Commentary and recollections on Polar Star and Polar Sea; Umberto Nobile and his airship Norge; “Fifty Years Below Zero” by Charles Bower; Franz Boes and Stefansson disagreement over origin of Eskimo pottery; “North to the Orient” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh; “Discovery” Autobiography of Stefansson; Knud Rasmussen; “Friendly Arctic” by Stefansson; Thomas Ross and the Schooner Hazel; Jim Crawford and Stefansson; Karluk survivors; Will Rogers’ visit to Alaska; Diamond Jenness; Ernest E. Coogan; Burt MacConnel Stefansson’s secretary; Ada Blackjack diary and Wrangel Island; The Log Cabin Club; The Karluk; Cpt. Pedersen, Amundsen vs. Stefansson; Stefansson’s School of Unlearning; Sledge Island; Nome Fire 1934.

Tape 5 Commentary and recollections on Linberghs; St. Lawrence Island Houses; Tuglemina Print by Danny Pierce; Print of Kagshi; “One Man Against the North” by David Irwin; The many facades of Stefansson; Isabel Wiley Hutchinson; “North to the Rhyme Ringed Sun” Gus Masey’s life story; “The Ghost Ship of the Pole” by Wilbur Cross; “The Alaska Natives” by Robert T. Anderson; “Across the Top of Russia” by Richard Pitrow; Thomas A. Ross ferry business to and from Nome; “Anthropological Survey of Alaska” by Herlizka; Constitution of Arctic Brotherhood; Ruth Jonas; “Arctic in Fact and Fable” by Stefansson; HR Bill 6261 proposing medal for Thomas A. Ross.

Tape 6 Commentary and recollections on correspondence with Phil Cronenwett and her expectations for her collection; Ada Blackjack; William McKinley; Kerry MaClain; “A Way of Walking” by Neufeld; Photos; Clippings; “One Man Against the North” David Irwin book; “Fifty Years Below in Alaska” by Carl Lohman.

Tape 7 Commentary and recollections on “The Great Trip” by Max Miller; “Sea of the Bear” by Lt. Com. Ransom USCG; clippings; Aurora High School Nome; HR 6228 Seawall Bill; Dr. Laughlin’s theory on skin boats and Eskimo travel; Dr. Chard’s project; King Island and Nome Cooperation’s; Jacques Cousteau and Father Hubbard; Father Renner and Father LaFortune; Jesuit priests.

Tape 8 Commentary and recollections on photos; clippings; Dr. Anderson and Stefansson.

Tape 9 Commentary and recollections on present living conditions of former King Islanders; Mt. St. Helen activity; Iditarod; Stanford Graduation and life after; Dr. Levin; “Education Factory;” Space Shuttle Columbia launch; Icebreaker Yukon; Thomas Ross retirement; Delegate Tony Diamond; General McArthur; personal history forms and CV; Rebuilding Nome Station; Dr. Newman; Scotty Allan; Colony of “Nomites” in Oakland, CA; Oceanic Trading Company, Seattle; Polar Sea missions.

Tape 10 Commentary and recollections on Snowgoose Gallery; Legacy Store; Columbia landing; Frank Stokes first white man to live on King Island in 1933; Stefansson and Father Hubbard; Stefansson and “blond” Eskimos; Evelyn Stefansson, Alan Cooke and Virginia Hastings tensions; Polar Sea; Indian Reorganization Act for Alaska; Alaska native industry; Wireless Systems; King Island store and Carvings; Nome Skin Sewers Association; Ivory economics.

Tape 11 Commentary and recollections on her Arctic Ocean cruise, 1932; Living on King Island from 1963-1964; Stockholders of King Island native store; Economic survey of King Island, 1939; Dissertation of Harvard student and his misinterpretation of Thomas Ross; Father Tom Cunningham’s language studies; Amundsen and Stefansson; Great Byrd Expedition; Shackelton’s crossing; “Gold Rush Nome” by Carrie McLain.

Tape 12 Commentary and recollections on Stefansson correspondence; Sally Carrighar; Savoy Medal; Cpt. vs. Chief Boatswain Ross; Funeral of Eskimo carver Harry; Photos; King Island materials; Cpt. Lane; Mr. Perkins; Bob Bartlett; “Man and Prehistory” by Dr. Chard; “Primitive Religion” by Robert Louis; “Primitive World and its Transformation” by Robert Redfield; “A Diary in a Strict Sense of the World” by Bronislaw Malinowski; Ruth Gruber; Dr. Daniel J. Bernstein; Jack Cady; Dorothy Jean Ray; Racism at Dartmouth; University of Wisconsin; “Artists of the Tundra” by Dorothy Jean Ray; “Arts and Culture of the North;” “Jesuits in Alaska.”

Tape 13 Commentary and recollections on Father Bernard’s King Island photographs; Father Renner; Nome High School; WAC Fort Worth, Texas; Photos; King Island Census 1931-32, 1963-64; Living on King Island 1963-1964; Artifacts.

Tape 14 Commentary and recollections on Josef Lindeburgh, one of the man who had discovered gold in Nome, Alaska; Father Hubbard; “Outline of Linguistic Analysis” by Bernard Bloch and George Trager; Family photos; Her mother’s illness; Alaska Survey for Department of the Interior.

Tape 15 Commentary and recollections on Father LaFortune; WAC service; “The Kobuk Maiden” by Elmer Reed; Charles Lindbergh; “Paris Was Yesterday” by Janet Flavers; Photos; Paul Anowlick Imanna sings and tells stories; Robbery of King Island houses by Charlie McAlpine.

Tape 16 Commentary and recollections on history of King Island; Photos, “Great Whaling Disaster 1870’s”; “Thar She Blows” by Margaret Ewing; “Economic survey of King Island, Alaska 1939;”Artifacts.

Tape 17 Commentary, recollections and readings on writing class at USC (1982); “By What Means?” by Frances Ross; “You Can’t Do Anything” by Frances Ross; John Teal’s death; King Island Eskimos; “Annals of the Former World” by John McPhee; “Stranger in the Night” by Frances Ross; “When You Can Travel First Class” by Frances Ross; Stationing of nuclear subs in Alaska; “The Man with the Wooden Shoes” by Frances Ross; “So We can Live Like Human Beings” by Frances Ross.

Tape 18 Commentary, recollections and readings on“I don’t Give a Good Damn Shit” by Frances Ross; Paul Imanna sings King Island songs and tells a story; Anthropology class she plans to take (1982); “Looking Far North: Harriman Expedition” by William H. Goetzman; “Looking Far North” and Stefansson; Anthropology class at University of Washington and changes in anthropology; Jimmy Carter’s memoir; Kenneth E. Reed; Film “Eskimo Fight for Life.”

Tape 19 Commentary, recollections and readings on anthropology class at University of Washington; Dr. Viola Garfield; Margret Lantis; King Island Community Houses; “For Men and Dogs” by Frances Ross; Dr. McClellan, University of Wisconsin regarding completion of PhD; “Missing and Presumes Dead” by Frances Ross; “Maybe Next Time” by France Ross; “Fifteen Dollar a Square Foot” by Frances Ross.

Tape 20 Commentary and recollections on visit to Eskimo friend Anowlik in hospital; Oceanic Trading Co; Eskimo experiences; “Journals Hundreds and Thousands” by Emily Carr; King Island Reunion; Anowlik’s death; Classes at University of Washington (1983); Ruth Gruber; Arctic Collection at University of Washington.

No Tape 21

Tape 22 Commentary and recollections on Pacific Northwest collection at University of Washington; “Alaska Native Languages” by Michael E. Kraus; “Kujakuk Rover Culture” by Annette McFadden; “Inupiat-Eskimo Dictionary;” Petito Emile French, Oblate; “The Nome Nugget” Headlines 1901-1976; King Island slide project, King Island slides; E.W. Nelson and the King Islanders.

Tape 23 Commentary and recollections on Classes at University of Washington (1983); King Island, Kobuk and Nome Slides; Dr. Laura Bland.

Tape 24 Commentary and recollections on how her slides should be taken care of; Nome, Alaska; Classes at University of Washington (1983); King Island slides, “People of Kauwerak” by William Oquilluk.

Tape 25 Commentary, recollections and readings on King Island slides, Lt. Jarvis; Aloysius Pikonganno tape; Anthropology classes at University of Washington (1983).

Tape 26 Commentary and recollections on textbooks of her current classes; “A People Without a Country: The Kurds and Kurdistan” by Gerard Chaliand; “America’s Past” by Thomas C. Patterson.

Tape 27 Commentary and recollections on Binford; “Archeology of the New World;” Frances Ross-Delegate to the 1984 Legislative District Caucus; Stefansson and the Explorer’s Club; “Nome-City of the Golden Beaches” by Jim Walsh.

Tape 28 Commentary and recollections on Katharine White collection of African Art; Utamana’s (Ursula Elanna) account of the King Island Wolf Dance and other King Island experiences; Classes at University of Washington (1984); King Island stories and songs including origin story; “People of the Whale” by David Boeri.

Tape 29 Commentary, recollections and readings on King Island stories; Textbooks and classes at University of Washington (1984); Classes at Jesuit College (1984); “I thought it Would Never Change” by Frances Ross; McKinlay; Ledyard and Captain Cook.

Tape 30 Commentary and recollections on research into early life of Nome, Alaska; Umberto Nobile and Amundsen; Italia; US Coast Guard project; Classes at University of Washington (1985); Eskimo language; Stefansson and Levonevski.

Tape 31 Commentary and recollections on King Island “I couldn’t let their lives end in silence;” Vocabulary cards; King Island songs.

Tape 32 Commentary and recollections on King Island songs, US Coast Guard project and Glenda Chote; 9th Annual Wooden Boat Show-Shavings; Eskimo weaknesses.

Tape 33 Commentary and recollections on visit of King Islander Alex Magtoya who tells her about his visit to the Island in 1986; “Father Tom of the Arctic” by Louis L. Renner; “An Individual Approach to Decentralization” by Walter John Marks; Charles Yeagar; “Wales, Ice and Men” by John R. Bockstoce.

Tape 34 Commentary and recollections on “Wales, Ice and Men;” Captain Pederson; Origin myth of the King Islanders; Classes at University of Washington; Duke and Duchess of Windsor; Glenda Chote; Dorothy Jean Ray; Guy Moyer; Air show at Boeing Airfield; Autumn in Seattle.

Tape 35 Commentary and recollections on 1932 summer trip on the Trader; Visit from Alex Motoyak; Death of Anschuk; Aircraft carrier Constellation; TV program on Alaska; “So We Can Live Like Human Beings” by Frances Ross; “Maybe Next Week” by Frances Ross; “For Men and Dogs” by Frances Ross; “Fifteen Dollars a Square Foot” by Frances Ross; Dorothy Jean Ray; Stanton Patty; “Nome Nugget” microfilm collection.

Tape 36 Commentary and recollections on University of California at Idelwood; Bob Bartlett; Grant Application for King Island research; Stefansson stamp; Brower family of Barrow, Alaska; Jenny Brower diary; Curtis mythology on King Island origin stories; Jesuit priests; Anniversary of her twin brother’s death; Audio reels with King Island stories and songs; Dorothy Jean Ray; Feast of Christ the King and its origin.

Tape 37 Commentary and recollections on Jesuit’s Christ the King day; Pearl Harbor; Father Hubbard’s pictures; Father Carrol’s shortcomings; Alaska dog races; Frieda Larson; Stefansson autobiography (1963); Map of King Island Village (1930’s); Father Renner; “Tracking the Bear” by Kathy Hunter; “The New Way to Eat” by Linda Clark; Stefansson and food.

Tape 38 Commentary and recollections on Alex Muktoyuk and Father Hubbard’s project; Father Hubbard and Frances Ross; Jesuit meterologist Father Weber; Skulls sent to Dr. McLaughlin; “First Boat to King Island” by Barton Roueche, Alaska’s pioneer postman; Last letter from her mother before her death; Dr. Frederica DeLaguna; Ruth Jonas; Ruth Gruber.

Tape 39 Commentary and recollections on Dr. Frederica DeLaguna; Matthew Henson; Ruth Jonas; King Island diary pages; Proposal for research support (1963); Bureau of Indian Affairs report; Father Carroll; “Workbook in Descriptive Linguistics” by Henry Allen Gleason, Jr.; King Island correspondence; “Don’t They Think We Know How To Eat” by Frances Ross; “Maybe They Fool Us Again” by Frances Ross; “When You Can Travel First Class” by Frances Ross.

Tape 40 Commentary and recollections on Gary Hart scandal; Ruth Jonas; Dorothy Jean Ray; Slides; Boeing museum, Seattle; Col. North and Admiral Poindexter; Photographs.

Tape 41 Commentary and recollections on Photographs; Iran Contra Affair.

Tape 42 Pikungunna telling stories in Inuit re-taped by Frances Ross.

Tape 43 Translation of Pikungunna’s stories by Alex Muktujuk supplemented by Frances Ross’ recollections.

Tape 44 Pikungunna telling stories in Inuit original recording.

No tape 45

Tape 46 Commentary and recollections on John Heath and kajaks; Dorothy Jean Ray; Voices concern for her collection; Alex Muktuyuk visit; “Distance Justice-Policing the Alaskan Frontier” by William R. Hunt; “King Island Christmas” by Jean Rogers; Photographs.

Tape 47 Commentary and recollections on Catholic Missions Magazine; “Rescue” by Ruth Gruber; “North to the Pole” by William Steger; Theology classes at Seattle University; Dr. Laughlin; Thomas A. Ross deed to goldmine; “The Incredible Eskimo;” “A Place For Winter-Paul Tiulana’s Story”by Vivian Senungetuk.

Tape 48 Commentary and recollections on air show at museum, Lindbergh exhibit; Arrival of Norge in Nome, 1926; Amundsen’s Arrival in Nome 1920’s; Nobile in Nome; Residents of Nome.

Tape 49 Commentary and recollections on planned course on Judaism at the local synagogue; Umberto Nobile’s widow; Letter from brother in Manila; Loman family of Nome; BS Grinder; Temple B. Hirsch; Judaism; Discovery Space Shuttle; Olympic Games; Visit of King Islanders to Washington, DC; Stefansson and his biography.

Tape 50 Commentary and recollections on Stefansson and the biography by Hunt; Polar Stamps; Primus stove; National Geographic articles; US Civil Service Commission (1957).

Tape 51 Commentary and recollections on Stefansson’s character and his female acquaintances in New York; Members of the Karluk expedition; Bad Kissingen, Germany; Evelyn Stefansson’s discontent with Dartmouth College; Whales trapped in ice (1988).

Tape 52 Commentary and recollections on Barrow, Alaska; “Crossroads of Continental Culture of Siberia and Alaska” by William Fitzhugh; “The Predicament of Culture” by James Clifford; “The Arctic Grail” by Pierre Berton; “The Kingdom of the Seal” by Frances M. Menager; Christ the King celebration.

Tape 53 Commentary and recollections on Gorbachev; Coming to Dartmouth College to discuss the collection; “The Divided Twins: Alaska and Siberia” by Yegeny Yeutushenko; “A Bush Pilot in the Alaskan Yukon;” “Haven” by Ruth Gruber; “Art and Eskimo Power” by Lael Morgan; “King Island Tales: Eskimo History and Legend from the Bering Strait;” Professor Geist; Exxon Valdez disaster; Deed of Gift; Lunar landing; Arctic Brotherhood #9 members.

Tape 54 Commentary and recollections on Arctic Brotherhood # 9 members; Art Woodley’s death; “Memoirs of a Yukon Priest” by Segundo Llorente; Goodwill Games; “Sadie Bower Neakok: An Inupiaq Woman” by Margaret B. Blackman; “Sydney Laurence: Painter of the North” by Kesler E. Woodward.

Tape 55 Commentary and recollections on Jesuit mission priests.


  • 1880 - 1990


Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Use

Permission from Dartmouth College required for publication or reproduction.


33 linear ft. (20 boxes)

Language of Materials


Additional Description


Frances A. Ross (1910-1995), educator and secretary to Vihljalmur Stefansson. Contains audio recordings and supporting materials documenting Alaska settlement, arctic exploration, the settlement at King Island as well as Ross' personal and professional life.

Part of the Rauner Library Archives and Manuscripts Repository

6065 Webster Hall
Hanover NH 03755 USA

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