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Statehood-era journalist to give public lecture

Submitted by Marmian Grimes
Phone: 907-474-7902

04/22/09

Photo caption below.
Photo courtesy of Robert Smith
A. Robert Smith
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Veteran journalist A. Robert Smith, who covered the battle for Alaskan statehood in Congress 50 years ago, will give a lecture Tuesday, April 28 at 7 p.m. in the Schaible Auditorium on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus. The lecture, "How Alaska Statehood has Changed America," is free and open to the public.

Smith will be a writer-in-residence at UAF during the week of April 27. In addition to the lecture, he will meet with students in history and journalism classes to discuss his experiences as a Washington correspondent for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner and newspapers in Anchorage, Ketchikan and Sitka, which editorially supported the statehood drive.

Smith is the author of the biography of Sen. Wayne Morse of Oregon, "The Tiger in the Senate," as well as seven other books. He covered Washington D.C. for 27 years, mostly for the Portland Oregonian, focusing on events that affected the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. "Of all the historic events I witnessed, nothing can compare with the decision to admit Alaska and Hawaii to the union," said Smith. "The addition of the senators from these two states broke the stranglehold on civil rights legislation that has since led to greater opportunity for all races--and ultimately the election of a black president."

Smith also covered the congressional investigation into the practice of exporting mentally ill Alaskans to Oregon for care and the scandals that ensued during the review of Morningside Hospital. Subsequent federal legislation, passed in 1956, laid the groundwork for the Alaska Mental Health Trust. During his visit, Smith will work with university researchers and mental health experts to document the history of this period.

CONTACT: Terrence Cole, UAF history professor, at 907-474-6995 or via e-mail at fftmc@uaf.edu. Marmian Grimes, UAF public information officer, at 907-474-7902 or marmian.grimes@uaf.edu.

MG/4-22-09/154ma-09