Published Date

August 1, 1944

Resource Type

GI Roundtable Series, Primary Source

By Merle Colby
Office of War Information
(Published August 1944)


Table of Contents


Should I Go to Alaska?

What Kind of Climate Does Alaska Have?

What Is the Alaskan Territory Like?

What Are the People Like?

Who Built Alaska?

How Is Alaska Governed?

How Do Alaskans Make a Living?

Life in Alaska

Alaska’s Future

To the Discussion Leader

Books about Alaska and the North


Pioneer is a magic word in American history. For generations, American pioneers pushed westward across the incredibly rich spaces of our continent, writing history with the long rifle, the sod-breaking plow, the Texas saddle, the lariat, the gold pan, and the oil drill. What the frontiersmen did, thought, and said had important effects on our federal government at Washington, our relations with other countries, and our nation’s destiny.

The frontier is bred into our bones. From it, some historians tell us, we got many of those characteristics other nations call “American”—our inventiveness, our willingness to do hard physical labor, our respect for bigness, our liking to “keep moving,” our refusal to accept restraint or limitation, our belief in the individual’s right to say, do, and worship as he pleases, our hospitality, our love of freedom, our dislike of hereditary rulers and authoritarian control.

Not all in the history of the frontier was creditable. American pioneers wasted the nation’s resources and drove the Indians from their lands. Some frontiersmen lived lustily and violently, without thought for those who would follow. Only very slowly did they learn that the good earth’s heritage—soil, plants, trees, rivers, minerals, fish and wild life—is something to be preciously guarded for our mutual good.

Alaska, America’s continental outpost, is our last frontier. In its own way; it is as rich and varied as the land to which the Pilgrims came more than three hundred years ago. It is almost unsettled in comparison with similarly situated lands in northern Europe. The war has greatly speeded up its development, has linked it with the rest of the United States by a new system of highways and airways, and has brought into its borders thousands of young men and hundreds of young women who would never otherwise have visited it.

Alaska offers twentieth-century pioneers a challenge—and an opportunity.