The Bob DeArmond Alaska History Project

Bob DeArmond

Digital Bob is comprised of three principal series: Days of Yore, Gastineau ByGones, and News of the Gold Camp. These columns were published in The Juneau Empire, and Rudy Ripley’s local television guide, Info Juneau. Days of Yore was published in Info Juneau as a weekly column from 1985-1991. Gastineau ByGones was a weekly column that was published in the Empire mid-1978-1981 (Southeast Alaska Empire (’78-’80) and Juneau Empire (’80-81)). News of the Mine Camp was published daily in the Juneau Empire celebrating Juneau’s 100th birthday in 1980.

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A searchable archive containing articles by Bob DeArmond on the history of the Gastineau Channel area.

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Robert Neil DeArmond was born in Sitka in 1911 and died there in 2010. The son of Robert W. DeArmond who had arrived Sitka from Kansas in 1903 as the horticulturalist at the experiment station of the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and Elizabeth Davidson DeArmond who had come to Sitka in 1907 to teach in the public school. They married in 1909 and a street in Sitka is named for them.

Robert attended school in Sitka and at Tacoma, Washington, where he graduated from Stadium High School in 1930, just after the Wall Street crash that marked the beginning of the Great Depression. He worked in a salmon cannery that summer, then got his first newspaper job as a reporter for Strollers Weekly in Juneau. The paper was sold the following spring and the new owner became his own reporter. Jobs were scarce and in the summer of 1931 DeArmond made a rowboat trip from Sitka to Tacoma. This resulted, years later, the book, A Voyage in a Dory .” He also wrote or compiled several other books (see “Bob’s Books” toggle below).

From Tacoma he went on to Eugene, Oregon, and the University of Oregon. After one year of college he returned to Sitka and for the next 12 years worked in the fishing industry at Sitka and the new settlement of Pelican. In 1935 at Sitka he married Dale Burlison, whom he had first met at Stadium High School. A son, William, was born to them in 1938, and a daughter, Jane, in 1940. In the fall of 1938 DeArmond was a member of the first crew that went from Sitka to Lisianski Inlet, Chichagof Island, to build a cold storage plant and found the town of Pelican. There DeArmond was storekeeper, bookkeeper and postmaster .

The DeArmonds and their two children remained at Pelican until the end of 1944. Anxious to get back into newspaper work, DeArmond moved his family to Ketchikan and he became a reporter on the Alaska Fishing News, which soon became the Ketchikan Daily News. From 1946 until 1953 he covered the biennial sessions of the Alaska Territorial Legislature for the Daily News, the Juneau Empire and several other papers. That took him to Juneau for two months every other year, first from Ketchikan and after 1949 from Sitka where he had become a partner in the Sitka Printing Company. At two different times, while living in Sitka, DeArmond was elected to the City Council. He became a member of the Ketchikan Igloo of the Pioneers of Alaska and in 1957 became Grand President of the organization. In April 1953 DeArmond became administrative assistant and press secretary to B. Frank Heintzleman, the former Regional Forester who had been appointed Governor of Alaska by President Dwight Eisenhower and who, with most of his staff, were actually employees of the U.S. Department of the Interior. While they lived in Juneau, Dale DeArmond worked for several state agencies including a new Department of Library Service. She then became librarian at the Juneau Memorial Library and held that position for 29 years. She also became known as a printmaker, particularly wood cuts and wood engravings.

Between 1957 and 1973 DeArmond worked part time as a researcher at the Alaska Historical Library in Juneau. In 1958 with Robert A. Henning he founded Alaska Northwest Publishing Co. and purchased The Alaska Sportsman (now Alaska Magazine) which he edited for some years. He also edited Alaska Journal, published by same firm. He also served on the board of directors of the Alaska Historical Society and as a member of the Alaska Historical Commission.

The DeArmonds moved from Juneau back to Sitka and into the Pioneers’ Home there in 1991 where he continued as a writer for The Sitka Sentinel, the Alaskan Southeaster, The Sea Chest and other publications.  He consulted and advised widely, including providing advice to our Digital Bob project.  Dale died on November 21, 2006 at the age of 92 and their daughter Jane died on December 17, 2006.  Bob passed away on November 26, 2010.  Their son William lives in Juneau.

  • Some Names Around Juneau (place names)
  • The Founding of Juneau
  • Old Gold, Historical Vignettes of Juneau
  • Nine Early Visitors to Southeastern Alaska
  • Who’s Who in Alaska Politics, with Evangeline Atwood
  • Lady Franklin Visits Sitka (editor)
  • Raven Town, with Dale DeArmond
  • The True Story of the Discovery of Gold on Bonanza Creek, with Dale DeArmond
  • Tales of a Klondike Newsman (editor)
  • Klondike Newsman, Stroller White (editor)
  • Names on the Chart
  • A Chronology of Sitka
  • From Sitka’s Past
  • The USS SAGINAW in Alaska Waters, 1868-1869
  • Baranof Island’s Eastern Shore, with Patricia Roppel
  • Belinda Mulrooney, a Biography, with Melanie J. Mayer (at the publisher; title subject to change)


Inventory, R.N. DeArmond Writings in the Alaska State Library Collection

Record Location (Format) Approx. Word Count
Subject: Statehood
Alaska, One State or Several MS 39, Box 2, Folder 6 manuscript
The Alaska Panhandle; a Possible Future State
Ketchikan Daily News, August ? 1947
MS 39, Box 2, Folder 6
8 articles in Alaska Daily Empire April 24 – May 2, 1950
History of “Administrative Governor” Bills in the Alaska Legislature–Photocopies of bills, plus summary written by R. N. DeArmond for Waino Hendrickson, Acting Governor re action to establish administrative governor to replace territorial governor 1957.0001 vf photocopy of typescript
Subject: Alaska’s Centennial
Centennial album: a monthly collection of photos out of Alaska’s history 050 magazine
Alaska Sportsman
Jan, 1967 S AHL
Feb, 1967 S AHL
April, 1967 S AHL
May, 1966 S AHL
June, 1966 S AHL
July, 1966 S AHL
August, 1966 (pp.43-46) S AHL
Sept. 1966 (pp.22-24, 53) SK 1, .A35 AHL
Oct. 1966 (pp.42-44 SK 1, .A35 AHL
Nov. 1966 (pp.20-22, 50-51) SK 1, .A35 AHL
Dec. 1966 (pp.18, 43-44) SK 1, .A35 AHL
This month in Northland history Alaska Sportsman SK 1, .A35
Jan. 1968 (pp.22-24, illus.) SK 1, .A35
Feb., 1968 (pp.15-17, 50, 53, 54) SK 1, .A35
March, 1968 (pp.18-20, 53-54, illus.) SK 1, .A35
April, 1968 (pp.24-26, illus.) SK 1, .A35
May, 1968 (pp.24-26) SK 1, .A35
June, 1968 (pp.23-25) SK 1, .A35
July, 1968 (pp.15-17) SK 1, .A35
August, 1968 (pp.22-24-43) SK 1, .A35
Sept, 1968 (pp.35-38) SK 1, .A35
Oct, 1968 (pp.16-18, 53) SK 1, .A35
Nov, 1968 (pp.17-19) SK 1, .A35
Dec, 1968 (pp.16-18) SK 1, .A35
Jan, 1969 (pp.20-22) SK 1, .A35
Feb, 1969 (pp.36-41) SK 1, .A35
March, 1969 (pp.35-37) SK 1, .A35
Info in Alaska Magazine index indicates this series ran until Nov. 1969 – above came from the card files
Notes from the History of the North Alaska Magazine Appeared monthly from Jan, 1970 – July, 1971
Subject: Juneau Area History
Juneau Postal History, 1881 – 1965: an 18-part radio script prepared in 1965 HE6376.A1A45 original typescript
City of Juneau Problems Mounting Influential Weekly (Capital City Weekly) March 22, 1967 newspaper microfilm unable to locate in ASL
From Mining Camp to Capital, Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Living, April 7, 1968 917.982 An2j
Time in Southeastern Alaska (undated) MS 39 Box 2, Folder 4 typescript
[Chronology of the Gastineau Channel, 1880 – 1920] typescript of dates and events (no sources cited) 1990.0057 vf photocopy of typescript
News of the Gold Camp
Juneau’s Days of Yore (misc. Juneau history) Info Juneau – TV guide produced in Juneau MS 39, Box 2, Folder 1 photocopies
Dec. 14, 1985 – Dec. 27, 1986 Folder 1a 58 columns
Jan. 3, 1987 – Dec. 26, 1987 Folder 1b 53 columns
Jan. 2, 1988 – Dec. 31, 1988 Folder 1c 52 columns
Jan. 7, 1989 – Dec. 30, 1989 Folder 1d 52 columns
Jan. 6, 1990 – Dec. 29, 1990 Folder 1e 52 columns
Jan. 5, 1991 – July. 13, 1991 Folder 1f 28 columns
The Winter and Pond Collection, Alaska Journal, Winter 1982, Vol.12 No.1, p.20 Magazine AHL
Treadwell (Photo Essay), Alaska Journal, Autumn 1978, Vol.8, No. 4, p.364-369 Magazine AHL
Subject: Sitka History
Enemy Fleet Off Sitka, 1855, Alaska Life (Seattle), Jan. 1947 (p.20-2pp.) 050 L Magazine AHL
The Sitka Alaskan, Alaska Life (Seattle), Jan. 1946 (p.48-56) 050 L Magazine AHL
Graphic Artists in Sitka, 1867-1897 unpublished? 1990.0060 vf photocopy of 10pp typescript
The Story of the Sitka Pioneers’ Home: The Beginning Years, 1913-1921 1991.0038 vf typescript
Roster of Residents, Sitka Pioneers’ Home, 1913-1993 1994.0022 vf typescript
A Sitka Chronology: 1867 – 1987 F914.S6D42 1993 hardbound
Sitka’s Consent Government, 1867 – 1873 1995.0036 tyepscript
Subject: People
The Life and Times of Henry Roden, Pioneer, Miner, Lawyer, Legislator, Juneau Alaska Empire, June 13, 1966 Newspaper Collection microfilm
The Blue-Eyed Tiger of Taku Harbor, Juneau Alaska Empire, v.54, no.485, July 29, 1966 Newspaper Collection microfilm
Alaska Newspaper Journalists and Publishers 1869 – 1926 MS 39, Box 2, Folder 5
Red Wing: A Reminiscence, Alaska Review, v.1, no.4, Winter 1965 818.05 ALI
Movie Man: The Life and Times of William David Gross, 1879 1962 F910.7.G76D42 ASL printed 34pp report w/cover
Ziegler in Black and White, Alaska Journal, Spring 1978, v.6, no.2, p.162-169 Magazine AHL
The Lady was a Trailblazer, Alaska Magazine, July 1958 p.30 Magazine AHL
Subject: Fur Trade
Sailing for Furs: History of the Early Fur Industry in Alaska, Alaska Life (Seattle), March 1946 p.15 050 L Pam Magazine AHL
The Men behind the Sea Wolf-Pelagic Sealers have a run-in with the Russians, Alaska Life (Seattle), May 1946 p.7 (4pp) 050 L Pam Magazine AHL
The Sitka to Ounalaska Mail: The Fur Seal Route, Alaska Journal, Summer 1983, vol.13, no.3, p.136-140 Magazine AHL
Subject: Miscellaneous
April in Alaska’s History, Alaska Sportsman, Ap. 1966, v.32, no.4, p.25-27, illus. 050 S Magazine AHL
Baranoff’s Fleet, Alaska Sportsman, Feb. 1946, p.8-14, illus. 050 L Magazine AHL
And a Town Crew, Alaska Sportsman, p.34-37, 43, 46, illus. 050 S Magazine AHL
Early Alaskan Sawmills, Ketchikan Daily Alaska Fishing News, “Aloft the Beam”
Feb. 5, 1946 v.18, no.1775 (p.4)
Feb. 7, 1946 v.18, no.1776 (p.4)
Feb. 9, 1946 v.18, no.1779 (p.4)
newspaper microfilm
The 18th Territorial Legislature, Alaska Life (Seattle), May 1947, p.9 050 L Pam Magazine AHL
Out of the History Cache, The Influential Weekly (Capital City Weekly) 1967 newspaper microfilm ASL
War’s End in the Bering Sea, Alaska Sportsman, July 1937, p.11 SK 1 .A35 Magazine AHL
The Wreck of the James Allen, Alaska Life (Seattle), Dec. 1945, p.15 050 L Pam Magazine AHL
The First Alaska Historical Society, Alaska History News (Quarterly of the Alaska Historical Society) 1989.0054 vf newsletter page original copy
Shoot the Damn Things, Anchorage Daily News/We Alaskans Sept. 9, 1990 1990.0022 vf photocopy of article/microfilm
Riverboating on the Stikine, Alaska Journal, Autumn 1979, vol.9 no.4, pp 68-80 Magazine AHL
They Were Named for Pinta, Alaska Magazine, February 1962 p.29 Magazine AHL
So It Was Named Girdwood, Alaska Magazine, June 1962 p.40 Magazine AHL
And a Town Grew, Alaska Magazine, August 1960 p.34 Magazine AHL
It’s Salmon Derby Time Again, Alaska Magazine, May 1961 p.33 Magazine AHL
Books by R. N. DeArmond
Early Visitors to Southeastern Alaska: Nine Accounts 919.798 ASL Book
Stroller White: Klondike Newsman F1095.K5S78 1990 DEA ASL Book
The Founding of Juneau
Who’s Who in Alaskan Politics: A Biographical Dictionary of Alaskan Political Personalities, 1884-1974 (with Evangeline Atwood)
Southeast Alaska Names on the Chart and How They Got There
Shattuck & Grummett, Inc.: A History HG8540.S52D42 1991 ASL Softbound, 54pp
From Sitka’s Past, Collection of 49 of 264 columns that originally appeared in the Sitka Sentinal under the same name (Sitka History, 1867-1907) F914.S6D424 1995 AHL Book
A History of the Kettleson Memorial Library, the Public Library of Sitka, 1923-1998 Z733.K47D42 1998 ASL Book
Staking Her Claim: The Life of Belinda Mulrooney, Klondike and Alaska Entrepreneur, Mayer, Melanie J., and DeArmond, R.N.
Voyage in a Dory
Bob also wrote 41 book reviews that appeared in the Alaska Journal in 1976-1983.

A Few Words about the Project and Bob

The Bob DeArmond Alaska History Project (Digital Bob) began in 2004 and is the result of work by Juneau-Douglas City Museum Director Jane Lindsey, Curator of Collections and Exhibits Ellen Carrlee, and, volunteers: Anne Castle, Rich Cormack, and Anne Schultz.

The Museum found that “historical research” was ranked highly in public perception of the Museum’s purpose. Volunteer Mike Blackwell had an idea that was hard to resist: a searchable Web database of Bob DeArmond’s writings.

Bob’s columns (Days of Yore, News of the Gold Camp, and Gastineau Bygones) document the growth of both of our towns: the rowdy days of the gold camps, the world’s largest hard-rock gold mines, small-town rivalries, Native rights, fishing, timber, territorial government, capital city issues, statehood, and everything else. We think that Bob portrays Juneau-Douglas for what it is–extraordinary–and that his factual accounts can shed light on current events.

The Bob DeArmond Alaska History Project was an undertaking of the Juneau-Douglas City Museum.  Its objectives has been to recognize the achievement of one of our favorite historians, and of making his non-book writings readily accessible to the public.  Bob died in 2010 at the age of 99.

Anyone embarking on an historical inquiry in Southeast Alaska (and other parts of the State) benefit from the late R. N. (Bob) DeArmond’s work.  For more than 70 years, Bob researched, wrote, edited, published, corresponded and advised on all topics historical that pertain to our region.  He authored or edited 17 books and wrote uncountable newspaper columns and magazine contributions.  His accomplishments, to list a few, include an entry in the 1927 Alaska flag contest, rowing from Sitka to Tacoma in a dory to go to college, serving as editor of Alaska Sportsman (now Alaska Magazine) and Alaska Journal, and as administrative assistant to Territorial Governor Frank Heintzleman.

Bob’s research for these articles was done primarily in the Alaska Historical Library founded in the 1890s by one of Alaska’s district governors.  It continued as the Territorial Library and is now the State of Alaska Library Historical Division.  According to Bob, “It had bound volumes of virtually all Alaska newspapers and these are now on microfilm.  It also had and has bound volumes of nearly all reports and paper of departments and agencies of the Federal Government that relate to Alaska, from 1867.  Many of the reports were collected by James Wickersham while he was a delegate in Congress from Alaska, and all of his collection is in the State Library, bound in red leather.” Bob was a prolific researcher and writer, and the archives now available on our site are incomplete.  We’ll keep at it, with the efforts of our stalwart volunteers.

Anne Castle gave us a head start–she had been already digitizing Gastineau Bygones from Juneau Empires that an acquaintance, Sue Hirsch Brock, had given her. The Juneau Empire gave us permission to reproduce Gastineau Bygones and News of the Gold Camp, for educational use. The Alaska State Historical Library gave us permission to copy photos for Bob’s scrapbook. Webmaster Patrick McGonegal cheerfully signed up to help us build a database and patiently endured questions from the technically challenged. Under Ellen’s supervision, interns Katie Mahoney and Crisitina Smiraglia, converted the Days of Yore articles into formatted text and entered them into the database. Volunteers Rich Cormack entered Gastineau Bygones, and Anne Schultz entered News of the Gold Camp.

Historical Images

High School Graduation
Photo by Jack Calvin
Working for the Ketchikan Daily News
At the Territorial Museum and Library
President of the Pioneers of Alaska
Tales of a Klondike Newsman
Bob and Dale1
Dale in Her Basement Printshop
Bob at Sitka Pioneer Home