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Guide to the Ruben Gaines papers
1952-1983

Collection number: HMC-0110.
Creator: Gaines, Ruben
Title: Ruben Gaines papers.
Dates: 1952-1983.
Volume of collection: 2.8 cubic feet. 
Language of materials: Collection materials are in English.
Collection summary: Papers and recordings of a noted Alaskan poet and storyteller.

Biographical note:
Ruben Gaines was born in 1912. During World War II, he worked in Hollywood, California, as a radio broadcaster. He came to Alaska around 1946 to work in radio broadcasting in Fairbanks, and moved to Anchorage in 1950. He is best known for his daily five-minute radio program, Conversations Unlimited in which he presented readings of his stories about life in Alaska. He published several books of poetry, including On Distance and Recall, and A Chugach Album and On Youth. He served as Alaska State Poet Laureate from 1973 to 1978. Ruben Gaines died in Anchorage in 1994.

Collection description:
The collection consists of the papers of Ruben Gaines relating to his work as an author and radio broadcaster. The collection is divided into five series: papers and published works; slides of story illustrations; reel-to-reel audiotapes; phonograph albums; and oversize documents. The papers include correspondence from Gaines to Alaskan artist Rusty Huerlin; Gaines’ unpublished manuscripts of novels, plays, and poetry; scripts for Conversations Unlimited radio programs; scripts for other programs including Pop and Beluga Bugle; artwork and illustrations for Conversations Unlimited and other presentations; reference materials; and six Gold Rush era photographs. The 311 color slides illustrate episodes of Beluga Bugle and other stories. The 30 reel-to-reel audiotapes are recordings of Conversations Unlimited, Pop, Beluga Bugle and other stories and poetry, along with 28 CDA master discs and 28 reference audiocassettes of those recordings. The four published LP phonograph albums consist of three different volumes of Conversations Unlimited stories and Chilkoot Charlie Writ’n’Reed by Ruben Gaines.

Arrangement: The collection is divided into 5 series by format.
SERIES 1. PAPERS AND PUBLISHED WORKS; 1952-1979.
SERIES 2: SLIDES OF STORY ILLUSTRATIONS; undated.
SERIES 3: REEL-TO-REEL AUDIOTAPES; 1961-1983.
Subseries 3a: Conversations Unlimited;1966-1968.
Subseries 3b: Beluga Bugle; undated.
Subseries 3c. Pop; undated.
Subseries 3d. Tapes of Unknown Origin; 1961-1983.
Subseries 3e: Reference copies of Series 3 reel-to-reel audiotapes; 1961-1968.
SERIES 4: PHONOGRAPH ALBUMS; 1966-1968.
SERIES 5: OVERSIZE DOCUMENTS; 1967.

Digitized copies: Digital copies of collection material are not available online. For information about obtaining digital copies, please contact Archives and Special Collections.

Rights note: Archives and Special Collections owns copyright to materials to which Ruben Gaines owned copyright.

Preferred citation: Ruben Gaines papers, Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage.

Separated materials: Three books were integrated into the Consortium Library, UAA/APU’s rare books collection in order to facilitate access via library catalog. The Library catalog is located on the Consortium Library website at consortiumlibrary.org. Below is a list of the books added to the rare books collection:

Conversations Unlimited  bound book of volumes 1-6 published in 1972. Inscribed in the front cover is “For my Pal, the unquenchable Lu—Ruben Gaines.” Lu’s full name is Luella S. Ausman.

A Chugach Album and On Youth are verses by Ruben Gaines that was published in 1979.

On Distance and Recall and Other Verse was published in 1980. The book contains annotations and edits.

Acquisition note: The collection was presented to the archives by Ruben Gaines in 1986. A deed of gift was signed in 1987. Papers were added in 1987 and 1991. Two phonograph albums were transferred to the archives from the Technical Services Department. Two phonograph albums were acquired by the archives in 2001.

Processing information: This collection was described by Jeffrey Sinnott in 2004. Collection description reformatted and updated by Mariecris Gatlabayan in 2013.

Container list:
SERIES 1: PAPERS AND PUBLISHED WORKS; 1952-1979, undated. 0.75 cubic feet. The collection contains correspondence, unpublished manuscripts, scripts, photographs, clippings, and programs.


Box/
Folder

Description

Dates

1/1

Correspondence with Rusty Heurlin.

1970, 1974

1/2

Unpublished manuscript: The Amazing Daisies and Other (Mostly Alaskan) Verse by Ruben Gaines.

Undated

1/3

Unpublished manuscript: Vigil on the Hill, An Alaskan Novel by Ruben Gaines (folder 1).

Undated

1/4

Unpublished manuscript: Vigil on the Hill, An Alaskan Novel by Ruben Gaines (folder 2).

undated

1/5

Unpublished manuscript: Vigil on the Hill, An Alaskan Novel by Ruben Gaines, cover and loose pages.

Undated

1/6

Unpublished manuscript: Coho by Ruben Gaines.

undated

1/7

Unpublished manuscript: Adam's Harvest by Ruben Gaines.

Undated

1/8

Unpublished manuscript: Adam's Harvest (cover) by Ruben Gaines.

undated

1/9

Unpublished manuscript: Goodbye, Proxy...A Drama in 5 Scenes by Ruben Gaines.

undated

1/10

Unpublished manuscript: American Album by Ruben Gaines.

undated

1/11

Unpublished manuscript: Dictionary by Ruben Gaines.

undated

1/12

Unpublished manuscript:  poetry by Ruben Gaines (enclosed with a letter to Louella Ausman, Pioneer Home.

Circa 1972

1/13

Scripts: Conversations Unlimited by Ruben Gaines.

undated

1/14

Scripts: Beluga Bugle by Ruben Gaines.

undated

1/15

Scripts: Beluga Bugle cover.

undated

1/16

Scripts: Pop - A Ruben Gaines Cartoon.

undated

1/17

Other papers: Poetry by other authors.

undated

1/18

Other papers: Recollections of Leroy N. McQuesten - Life in the Yukon 1871-1885. Copied from the original owned by the Yukon Order of Pioneers.

1871-1885, 1952 June

1/19

Other papers: Alaskan photographs.  Contains 6 black and white prints.  
a.“Klondikers camping at Lake Bennett, June 1st 1898.” Larrs & Duclos Photos, Dawson; Copyright 1898. [5.75 X 8 inch.]
b.“Kieth and Wilson Mine on French Hill;” E. A. Hegg photo. [5 X 7 inch]
c.“Lower switch-back, Thompson Pass, Valdez-Fairbanks Trail;” P. S. Hunt photo. [4 X 6 inch]
d.Winter street scene. [3 X 8 inch]
e. Winter scene of horses, sleds and men climbing mountain pass. [3.75 X 6.25 inch]
f.View of glacier field from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain near Valdez. [3 X 5 inch].

1898, undated

1/20

Other papers: truck rodeo program booklet.

1952

1/21

Other papers: laminated clippings.

1978

1/22

Other papers: clippings entitled “A-67.”

1952-1953, 1968, undated

SERIES 2: SLIDES OF STORY ILLUSTRATIONS; undated. 0.25 cubic feet.


Box/
Folder

Description

Dates

1/23

Beluga Bugle illustrations, episodes 1-20: 139 slides.

Undated

1/24

Beluga Bugle illustrations, episodes 21-32: 110 slides.

Undated

1/25

52 slides of unidentified illustrations. 10 slides of Lyman Woodman’s historical slides.

Undated

SERIES 3: REEL-TO-REEL AUDIOTAPES; 1961-1983. This series contains 30 reel-to-reel audiotapes of various sizes: 0.25 inch, 28-7 inch, 2-5 inch. Series 3 also contains 28 CDs master discs and 28 reference audiocassettes reference copies of the audiotapes.

Series 3. Reel-to-Reel Audiotapes. Subseries 3a: Conversations Unlimited;1966-1968, undated. This series contains 12 reels, 7 inch reels. To listen to reference copies, refer to Series 3e.


Box/
Item#

Description

Dates

2/A1

Tape #1; October 12, 1966.

1966 October 12

2/A2

Tape #2; October 12, 1966.

1966 October 12

2/A3

Album #2 in the series, Master #1. Side 1: Cuts 1 (8:02); 2 (10:52); 3 (4:50). 1/4 inch track.

1967 January 5

2/A4

Album #2 in the series, Master #2. Side 2: Cuts 1 (4:47); 2 (7:56); 3 (7:00); 4 (6:15).

1967 January-February

2/A5

Conversations Unlimited  #3. Master album #3. Side 1: Cuts 1 (7:40); 2 (6:20); 3 (7:01); 4 (5:10). 1/4 inch tape and 7 1/2 IPS.

1967 September

2/A6

Conversations Unlimited #3. Master album #3. Side 2: Cuts 1 (5:31); 2 (10:32); 3 (8:04).

1967 September

2/A7

Conversations Unlimited #4. Master. Side 1: Cuts 1, 2, 3.

1968 March-April

2/A8

Conversations Unlimited #4. Master. Side 2: Cuts 1 (6:56), 2 (8:39); 3 (8:47).

1968 March-April

2/A9

Conversations Unlimited #2. Abercrombie (2:55); Abercrombie (2:25); Mosquitoes (3:04); Folsom Poem (3:08); Dog (3:10); Richardson hiway (3:07); Gruening (3:49); Chilkoot (3:18); Pat O'Donnel (3:19); Kenai Peninsula (2:07); Kenai Peninsula (2:37); Home Flight (3:28); Bering (2:23); Dolly V. Trout (2:40); Loons (2:50).

Undated

2/A10

Conversations Unlimited  #3. Breakup (2:41); Gus, dogs (3:10); Contemplators (2:45); Air View (3:25); Smoke Spiral (3:03); Oracle (2:46); Kenai Lakes (3:01); Cook Inlet (3:00); Grayling (3:12); Moose (2:47); Geese (2:57); Iditarod Poem (2:42); The Arrow Poem (2:33); Tom's Creek (2:42); Ice Sounds (2:54); and, Sheep (2:30).

Undated

2/A11

Conversations Unlimited. Bush Pilots (3:42); Anchorage (2:38); Buildings (2:55); Alexander Lake (2:41); Outhouses (2:28); Owls (2:48); Year 2077 (3:04); Indian Calendar (3:06); Cloudy McKinley (2:32); Salmon (3:28); Fishwheel (3:12); Tunes for Skunked Fishermen (2:24); Moon (2:20); Ball in Ketchikan (2:20); Percy DeWolfe (3:25); Sheenjac Sheep (2:30).

undated

2/A12

Conversations Unlimited. Ducks (3:17); Iliamna Wind (3:15); Garden 1 (1:52); Garden 2 (1:50); Snowfall (3:24); Shismaref (2:37); Fog-McK. (2:30); McK. (2:54); Ak. Names (2:26); Butterfly Lake (3:16); Falling Down (3:25); D-2 Prodigy (1:59); Jean Lake (2:27); Winding Creek (2:17); Good Posture (2:42).

undated

Series 3. Reel-to-Reel Audiotapes. Subseries 3b: Beluga Bugle; undated. This series contains 2 reels, 7 inch reels.To listen to reference copies, refer to Series 3e.


Box/
Item

Description

Dates

2/B1

Beluga Bugle: Dolly V. Trout (:57); Bulba Sleeky (1:00); Belshazzar (1:00); Weather (:45); Gardening (1:00); Boink (:47); Portage Gl. (:48); Cornerstone (:54); Fishing Season (:55); Boink (1:02); Battle of Big Horn (:53); Gardening (:55); Nickname (:58); Spenard Rd. (1:03); Queen Mary (1:02); SST (:53); Misc. (:50); Boink (:50); Nickname (:51); Wild Game (:44).

undated

2/B2

Beluga Bugle: Wild Game Dinners; Weather Rep't; Miscellaneous; J. Abendego Boink; Births at Intersections; Opportunity State; Zoo Trades; Traffic; Plantimals; Alaskan Menu; Gardening; Miscellaneous; J. Abendego Boink; Traffic; Miscellaneous; Detour; State Naming; Xmas Tree.

undated

Series 3. Reel-to-Reel Audiotapes. Subseries 3c: Pop; undated. This collection contains 1 reel, 7 inch reel.To listen to reference copies, refer to Series 3e.


Box/
Item

Description

Dates

2/C1

Pop.

undated

Series 3. Reel-to-Reel Audiotapes. Subseries 3d: Tapes of Unknown Origin; 1961-1983. This collection contains 15 reels, 13-7 inch and 2-5 inch reels.To listen to reference copies, refer to Series 3e.


Box/
Item

Description

Dates

2/D1

Cole to Gaines. 5 inch reel.

1962

2/D2

Klondike Master.

Undated

2/D3

Verse. Whaler (:59); In Waiting (:37); Remembrance (:27); Lake Music (:41); Prospecting (:41); Beaches (:33); Creek (:30); Private (:24); 2 Passings (:30); Anticipation (:29); Ak Springtime (:59); Iliamna (:53); Silence (1:00); Hills and Time (:29); Fox (:51); Dawn (:23); Dawning (:25); Grove (1:00); Nite Scene (:59); Investment (1:02); Dump Truck (:55); Baranof (2:00).

undated

2/D4

Haworth to Gaines. Copy of tape 2/20. Quality of tape is poor.

1961 December

2/D5

Haworth to Gaines.

1961 December

2/D6

Unidentified: Chilkoot - Guess Who, 2/26; Iliamna - The Chutes, 3/31; Expatriate Alaskans, 3/2; Totem Poles, 3/3; Abandoned Cabin (poem), 3/4; Sears, 3/5; Abandoned Car, 3/8.

undated

2/D7

Alaska State BK: 1983 Vacation, possibly Conversations Unlimited. Pile Bay, Winter, 10/10; Indian Chiefs, 10/11; Cat at Big Bear Lake, 10/12; Pictures on My Wall, 10/13; Sears Catalog, 10/14; Hypnosis Happening, 10/17; Ted O'Shea, 10/18; Mouse on Pile-B-Tacoma, 10/19; Nahcritany, 10/20; Gazer in Chch, 10/21.

1983

2/D8

Unidentified, possibly Conversations Unlimited: Grayling, 11/17; Place Names, 11/18; Ester, 11/19; Glaciers, 11/20; Late Winter, 11/23; Talkeetna Poem, 11/24; Mrs. Maloney, 11/25; Moose on Alex. Creek, 11/26; Silence, 11/27; Dictionary, 11/30.

undated

2/D9

Unidentified: L. Johnson, Cussing, Dogs, 4/22; Edwin Way Teale, 4/23; Skeets Herfurt, 4/26; Dowser, 4/27; Garden, 4/28; Emil Jannings, 4/29; Guiness, 4/30; Place Names, 5/3.

undated

2/D10

Unidentified: Russian Fisherman, 1/24; Mt. St. Augustine, 1/25; Loons, 1/26; Bears, 1/27; Snow, 1/28; Killer Whales, 1/31; Norseman, 2/1; Place Names, 2/2; Quiet Inlet, 2/4; Exaggeration, 2/4; Guiness, 2/7.

1983

2/D11

Unidentified: Potholes, 3/30; Lost Moose, 3/31; Murie - Verse, 4/2; Booze - Revolution, 4/5; Sears, 4/6; Waters #1, 4/7; Waters #2, 4/8; Couglin, 4/9; Wineries, 4/12; Sears-R, 4/13; NZ-Poem, 4/16; Lakes-Trees, 4/19; Cliches, 4/20; Portland Trolleys, 4/21.

1982

2/D12

Unidentified, 1983 Vacation: Polar Bear (and poem), 10/24; Sea Otters, 10/25; Geese, 10/26; Oldtimers, 10/27; Guiness, 10/31; The Bear - The Sophia, 11/1; Cliche Zoo, 11/2; Cold Snap, 11/3; Veniaminoff, 11/4.

1983

2/D13

Unidentified: Birches (with poem), 9/11; Iliamna Weather, 9/14; Park's Bear (with poem), 9/15; Place Names, 9/16; Home Reminiscences (W.P.), 9/17; Schwatka, 9/18; Garland (Stampeder), 9/21.

1981

2/D14

Unidentified: blank. 5 inch reel.

Undated

2/D15

Unidentified.

undated

Series 3. Reel-to-Reel Audiotapes. Subseries 3e: Reference copies of Series 3 reel-to-reel audiotapes; 1961-1968. 28 audiocassettes and 28 CDs.


Box

Description

Dates

3

Audiocassettes and CD reference copies of A1-A12.

1966-1968, undated

3

Audiocassettes and CD reference copies of B1-B2.

undated

3

Audiocassettes and CD reference copies of C1.

undated

3

Audiocassettes and CD reference copies of D1-D15. No CDs or audiocassettes exist for duplicate tape D4 or blank tape D14.

1961-1983

 

SERIES 4: PHONOGRAPH ALBUMS; 1966-1968, undated.  4 long playing discs, 33.33 rpm.


Box/
Item

Description

Dates

4/1

Chilkoot Charlie Writ'n'Read by Ruben Gaines.

undated

4/2

Conversation Unlimited with Ruben Gaines: vol. 1.

Circa 1966

4/3

Conversation Unlimited with Ruben Gaines: vol. 3.

Circa 1967

4/4

Conversation Unlimited with Ruben Gaines: vol. 4.

Circa 1968

SERIES 5: OVERSIZE DOCUMENTS;1967. 0.1 cubic feet. Series 5 contains original drawings, articles, and a facsimile poster related to the Abraham Lincoln assassination. Materials are housed in map folder.


Map folder/
Item

Description

Dates

MF/1

Facsimile reproduction of the “Our American Cousin” theater program used at Ford's Theatre the night Abraham Lincoln was shot and a poster offering a reward printed after Lincoln's assassination.

undated

MF/2

Laminated clipping from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner with a reproduction of a mural by Rusty Heurlin entitled “Getting Away,” and the article, “Alaska's Big Picture.”

1967 May 27

MF/3

Drawing entitled, “From the Coolidges - Jewel Lake”; caption reads “Ruben, We Are Shore Glad to Have You back at the Diggin's Again.”

Undated

MF/4

Conversations Unlimited drawing, yellow chalk on black construction paper.

Undated

MF/5

Block print of a man and bear, black ink on rice paper. Written in pencil is “Proof AEP.”

Undated

MF/6

Chalk drawing. Caption reads “Mrs Maloney, Written and Narrated by Ruben Gaines, Produced by Frank Brink Productions, Anchorage, Alaska.”

Undated

MF/7

Chalk drawing. Caption reads “Chilkoot Charlie - Writ `N' Read by Ruben Gaines, produced by Frank Brink Productions, Anchorage, Alaska.”

undated