Legacy Diaries

We’ll be displaying the journals of the four men who made it to the top of Denali together in June 1913. In the last few months, they’ve arrived from all over the country for the museum’s special exhibit, Denali Legacy: 100 Years on the Mountain.

Hudson Stuck’s journals arrived in December. These diaries had beenstuck3 archived by the American Geographical Society since 1922. It was the first time they returned to Alaska in 90 years. Ethnology & History Collection Manager Angela Linn (right) is especially excited about the small journal Stuck brought with him on the ascent. “I’ve been able to read the entries from the larger journal, but the smaller diary karstens_3was never scanned.”

Then at the beginning of January, the tiny diary kept by Harry Karstens (left) arrived from the American Alpine Club library. Karstens went on to become the first superintendent of Mount McKinley National Park (now known as Denali National Park).

Two more diaries arrived at the end of January. Walter Harper was a young Athabascan man who accompanied Stuck on his many travels. Robert Tatum was an Episcopal missionary from Tennessee who hoped to join the priesthood. They were both proteges of the charismatic Archdeacon Hudson Stuck.

Legacy_Tatum diary_1

“I was ahead all day and was the first ever to set foot on Mt. Denali.” — From the diary Walter Harper dated Saturday, June 7, 1913.


“Today stands a big red letter in my life as our party of four reached the summit of Mount McKinley.” – From the diary of Robert Tatum dated Saturday, June 7, 1913.

Walter Harper’s journal is housed at UAF’s Alaska and Polar Regions archives and Robert Tatum’s is archived at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

For the first time since they were written, the diaries are now reunited at the University of Alaska Museum of the North. You can see them in May when the exhibit opens.


About University of Alaska Museum of the North

Tour the North. Explore the Museum. The University of Alaska Museum of the North is a thriving visitor attraction, a vital component of the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the only research and teaching museum in Alaska. The museum’s research collections – 1.4 million artifacts and specimens – represent millions of years of biological diversity and thousands of years of cultural traditions in the North. Museum members receive free admission to the exhibit galleries throughout the year. The Museum Store features items that relate to the museums collections, and all proceeds support the museum’s operations.
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