- Associated Press - Saturday, January 2, 2016

KODIAK, Alaska (AP) - The Baranov Museum’s longtime archivist retired after 40 years as a volunteer and staff member.

Alice Ryser came to Kodiak in 1963 on vacation to attend Crab Festival.

While here, a fire burned the hotel in Cordova she had been living in with her three children, so they moved to Kodiak, where Ryser’s mother lived.

She began working as a volunteer at the museum around 1975.

Back then, the keys were kept at the police station, so Ryser would fetch them there and open the museum for the day, then shut down the museum and take the keys back.

“We had very few visitors in those days. It was very quiet because it was just the beginning,” Ryser said.

In 1983, Ryser was asked to come on staff as an archivist.

“My very first day, Marian Johnson handed me some photos and asked if I would find a place for them,” Ryser said. “She handed me a folder and just said put these somewhere where they belong.”

Ryser said she’s most proud of how the photograph collection has grown during her time at the museum. Almost all of the photographs the museum currently has - about 45,000 to 50,000, according to museum executive director Tiffany Brunson - were catalogued and stored by Ryser.

“It never was a job because I really enjoyed working here as a volunteer and staff,” Ryser said. “It’s a wonderful atmosphere.”

The biggest challenge has been when new technology came online.

“When we had to learn computer, I had to take classes at the college,” Ryser said. “I had never even looked at a computer at that point.”

After retiring at the end of 2015, Ryser will continue to archive photos, just for herself rather than at work.

“I have a lot of photographs, lots of old photographs dating from probably 1915, 1916, and I have a lot of negative to be scanned,” Ryser said. “I need to do that, so I think that’s my next project.”

She will stay in Kodiak and spend time with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“She’s done an amazing job in building and maintaining an amazing photograph archive,” Brunson said. “We’re sad to see her go but happy she’s taking time for herself to enjoy her retirement.”

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Information from: Kodiak (Alaska) Daily Mirror, https://www.kodiakdailymirror.com


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