Bob Bartlett


One of Alaska’s first two United States senators at statehood had been an early student at the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines, even though he did not earn a degree.

E.L. “Bob” Bartlett graduated from high school in Fairbanks and, after trying college Outside, returned and attended a few courses at AACSM in 1924-1925. “The discipline of university study did not appeal to Bob,” according to biographer Claus-M. Naske, the late UAF professor emeritus of history.

After working as a newspaper reporter, gold miner and political aide, Bartlett in 1944 won the race to serve as Alaska’s territorial delegate in Washington, D.C. He held the position for the next 14 years.

During that time, Bartlett advocated for Alaska’s statehood, which Congress approved in 1958. Alaskans also elected Bartlett to one of the new state’s two U.S. Senate seats that year. By the flip of a coin, he had to run again in 1960. He won that race and again in 1966.

A prolific writer of personal letters, Bartlett used the tool to maintain friendships across the political spectrum in Alaska.

Bartlett died in 1968. Bartlett had been a Democrat, but Gov. Wally Hickel replaced him with Republican Sen. Ted Stevens.

Bartlett Hall at the University of Alaska Fairbanks is named for the senator. His daughter, D.A., worked as a librarian for Alaska’s 1955-1956 constitutional convention at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She later became an English professor at UAF. She died in 2015. 

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