New Title on Chronicling America: Seward gateway daily edition and the Alaska weekly post

Hello all,

This week, Chronicling America updated their list of Alaska newspaper titles and added one more: The Seward gateway daily edition and the Alaska weekly post

Seward Gateway 1

Throughout its publication, the Seward gateway changed title and frequency, offering both daily and weekly issues. For this paper, we had access to one issue of the Seward gateway daily edition and the Alaska weekly post, which is treated as its own newspaper title. Although only a single issue, this paper can shed light on what life was like January 24, 1918 in Seward- and the rest of the world.

Because today is Election Day, one article in this issue highlighted voter registration in Alaska, then still a territory. Alaska voters could cast their ballots for local politicians and territorial representatives, and for state-wide initiatives. Not until Alaska became a state in 1959 could its citizens participate in national elections.

Citizens Can Register for Next Election: Registration Books Are Now Open At Seward Drug Co.- Councilmen and Other Officers Will Be Elected First of April; Seward citizens can now register for the spring election to be held for city officials on the first Tuesday in April. The registration book is opened at the Seward Drug Co., where City Clerk Pochlman can be found. Registration will close on March 30th but the book is opened early in order to save the rush as the last days. To register for the city election one must have been in the territory for one year and in Seward for six months prior to the election date. At the next election three councilmen will be chosen mayor, treasurer, city clerk and city attorney. The retiring councilmen are Messrs. Sexton, Sauers and Dubreil. So far little has been started in the way of politics and no announcements have been made from prospective candidates.

Image credit: The Seward gateway daily edition, and the Alaska weekly post. (Seward, Alaska), 24 Jan. 1918. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

Unlike current voting registration in Alaska, in which one need only demonstrate residency through a government-issued photo identification, Alaska residents had to have lived in the territory for one year, and in Seward itself for at least six months before the election.

If you are registered to vote today, November 6, please exercise your right to vote in the midterm election and make your voice heard!



Tricks and Treats, Pranks and Parties: Alaska Historical Newspapers Celebrate Halloween

Happy Halloween, everyone!

On this Halloween, like many other holidays, it’s fun to ask: what did people do to celebrate one hundred (or so) years ago? I’d like to share a few findings from Alaska Historic Newspapers that demonstrate differences and similarities.

Notable in news coverage is the association between specific vandalism involving the theft of wheels and taking the hinges off gates:

This Eve is One of Mirth: This eve is Hallowe'en. Upon this night mirth and revelry among the younger people is supposed to prevail. In the past it has been the custom of those more mischievously inclined to remove gates, wagons or anything movable, to distant parts from their original location, leaving the owner the pleasant task of finding and restoring them to their proper places.

Image credit: The daily Alaska citizen. (Fairbanks, Alaska), 31 Oct. 1918. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

To Celebrate Halloween: As usual the people of Skagway will tonight "haud their Halloween." The imps will be out, of course, playing their pranks and causing those who have front gates, or back ones, signs, etc., to have feelings of apprehension. There will be fairies, also, probably, to reveal the future and indulge in match making and other pleasing things, but they will certainly not be so ubiquitous as their uncanny and unholy cousins of the unknown.

Image credit: The daily Alaskan. (Skagway, Alaska), 31 Oct. 1906. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

As Smithsonian Magazine points out, children pulled Halloween pranks due to the mischievous nature of the night, the one day out of the year when ghosts and goblins haunted the streets freely:

“Witches, Goblins, Fairies and Imps Tonight: Tonight will be Halloween, the one night of the year when the supernatural beings that occupy the invisible world about us are permitted to materialize themselves and to play their pranks upon the credulity of mortals, with impunity.”

Image credit: The daily morning Alaskan. (Skagway, Alaska), 31 Oct. 1902. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

These pranks, which still manifest in the form of plastering houses with eggs and throwing toilet paper rolls up on tree branches, co-mingled with tamer activities.

Many papers report masquerade balls and parties held, not unlike the current custom of dressing in costume and attending themed festivities:

Great Crowd Enjoys Halloween Dance: There was a very large attendance at the Halloween dance given by the Ladies of the Maccabees last night, which was one of the choicest affairs of the year. The hall was elaborately and appropriately decorated. Chinese lanterns, the colors of the order, and black cats, bars and other symbols of the mysterious darkness of the night were everywhere present. The first dance was in sheets and pillow cases, and a fortune teller gave her patrons glimpses into the future. At midnight the guests were presented with the pictures of their future husbands and wives. Delicious refreshments were served at midnight.

Image credit: The daily Alaskan. (Skagway, Alaska), 01 Nov. 1906. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

The managers of the Hallow-een Masquerade Ball have decided not to furnish any lunch at their ball as they will be crowded for room, and have reduced the prices of admission to $1.00 for gents and 50 cents for ladies. Supper will be prepared by the various cafes.

Image credit: The Alaska prospector. (Valdez, Alaska), 30 Oct. 1902. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

Honoring Mrs. W. G. Powell who left last night on her way to Vancouver, B. C., Mrs. W. L. Landsborough entertained at bridge on Friday afternoon last. This was a Halloween party and a very beautiful little function. All the decorations were in Halloween colors and the favors, cards and tally sheets were in the color plan. The dining table where a delicious repast was served was appropriately decked and the afternoon was one of pleasant memories for honor guest, hostess and those other guests who were fortunate enough to be invited. The hostess was assisted by her sister, Miss Evangeline Cook. Mrs. W.G. Gable took first honors and was suitably rewarded. Mrs. Powell was given a "guest" prize as a souvenir of this delightful occasion. The guests were Mrs. Hugh G. Weir, Mrs. Hermann Miller, Mrs. E. J. Shaw, Mrs. W. G. Gable, Mrs. N. E. Black, Mrs. P. H. Ganty, Mrs. W. C. Blanchard, Mrs. Hazel C. Kirmse, Mrs. A. C. Blanchard, Mrs. L. H. Johnston, Mrs. F. J. Van de Wall, Mrs. P. H. McClelland and the compliment guest, Mrs. W. G. Powell. Mrs. S. Hill Barrington of Dawson was the out of town guest.

Image credit: The daily Alaskan. (Skagway, Alaska), 03 Nov. 1917. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

However you choose to celebrate Halloween night, whether with a costume, a party, trick or treats- or all of these, please do so safely.

Happy haunting!

Princess Sophia Shipwreck: 100 Years Later

On this day one century ago, amidst the Spanish Influenza and the final days of the First World War, a luxury steam ship called the S.S. Princess Sophia struck Vanderbilt Reef in the Lynn Canal off the coast of Juneau and sank, killing all 350 passengers aboard.

Remembered today as the “Titanic of the North”, the Princess Sophia shipwreck remains the worst disaster at sea on the Pacific Coast.

As recently as October 6, the Alaska State Museum partnered with the Maritime Museum of British Columbia and hosted the traveling exhibit dedicated to the Princess Sophia, which gave visitors a thorough glimpse into life on board the ship, personal artifacts recovered from the wreckage, and newspaper coverage of the tragedy- including an original copy of the Nome Tri-Weekly Nugget from a bound volume.

Sophia clippings 1

Sophia Nome Nugget

Today, Chronicling America hosts three papers that feature the shipwreck on their front pages, including the Alaska Daily Empire, the Cordova Daily Times, and the Seattle Star:

100 Years Ago Today: 10/26/1918 (115 issues): The Alaska Daily Empire (8pp), Juneau Alaska. Headline reads: "Princess Sophia Sinks and 350 Souls Probably Perish"; The Cordova Daily Times (8pp), Cordova, Alaska. Headline reads: "343 Lives Lost on Str. Princess Sophia"; The Seattle Star (10pp.), Seattle, Washington. Text reads: "Alaska Vessel Lost with 200 on Board".

Screenshot from

To commemorate the occasion, Emerson Eads and David Hunsaker created an original opera through the Orpheus Project titled The Princess Sophia, which held its world premiere last night at Juneau-Douglas High School, and will run through October 28.

The Princess Sophia shipwreck remains a vivid tragedy for many Alaskans who lost relatives on board. Given that many people in the Lower 48 have never before heard of the S.S. Princess Sophia, newspaper coverage is an essential primary resource, now available and text-searchable online.

For additional resources on the Princess Sophia, visit the Alaska State Library’s online portal here.



Alaska Day

The Two Best Investments Ever Made by the United States--Alaska's Purchase and Government Built Railroad; 1867-1915; The Alaska Citizen; Fairbanks, Alaska, Monday Morning, October 18, 1915

How does one acknowledge Alaska Day, a federal holiday to commemorate the transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States?

The holiday traditionally celebrated the westward expansion of the United States as an extension of Manifest Destiny. For many, it is a day fraught with the unexplored legacy of colonialism, of sacred land loss, and of the intentional erasure of Alaska natives from the history of their land.

Historic Alaska newspapers celebrated the holiday as a reminder of the United States as a world power, particularly in the context of events during the First World War. Articles from this time period emphasized the patriotic obligation Alaska residents in schools owe the then-territory:

Observance of Alaska Day by Schools Urged: Broad Significance Attached to Observance of Anniversary of Transfer. Alaska Day, which is October 18, should have a broad and deep significance to every Alaskan, declares the Alaska School Bulletin for October. "The observance of the day should inspire its every man and woman, every boy and girl, a love and loyalty to this great Northland and to the nation of which we are a part," it declares. The Bulletin is issued monthly from the office of the Territorial Commissioner of Education and goes to every school in Alaska. Commenting on Alaska Day, it says: Alaska Day, October 18th., marks the fifty-fourth anniversary of the transfer of what is now the Territory of Alaska from Russia to the United States. This vast Empire containing approximately 600,000 square miles of territory was purchased for $7,200,000, representing less than two cents per acre. The total mineral production of Alaska from the date of purchase to the year 1920 was more than sixty times the purchase price. The fisheries during the last decade alone have yielded more than forty times the amount of the purchase price. There is every reason to believe that neither of those great industries has reached the peak of production. The coal and oil fields are practically unexplored. Those who know state that the coal fields of the Matanuska and Nenana River valleys are more than equal in extant to the original coal fields of West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Timber for use in the paper and pulp industry is being utilized for the first time in the history of the Territory. Billions of cords of such wood are situated at points which are readily accessible to present or possible mill sites. William H. Seward certainly caused Uncle Sam to sow seed which was destined to bring forth many an hundred fold when he urged and consummated the purchase of Alaska.

From the October 12, 1921 issue of the Alaska daily empire.

“The observance of the day should inspire in every man and woman, every boy and girl, a love and loyalty to this great Northland and to the nation of which we are a part”

Patriotic sentiment aside, these articles also point to the economic output of the Alaskan territory, to imply that the raw materials of timber, gold, and seafood help boost the United State’s gross domestic product. The sheer bounty of resources “discovered” and turned a profit by white settlers to the territory.

In a statement from the above article that would prove fortuitous:

“The coal and oil fields are practically unexplored. Those who know state that the coal fields of the Matanuska and Nenana River valleys are more than equal in extant to the original coal fields of West Virginia and Pennsylvania.”

(Crude oil reserves from Prudhoe Bay that would not be tapped until 1968, and the profits from oil drilling would remain front and center of the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) in 1980).

Alaska Day is to be Celebrated on Thursday, the 18th: The Seward public school will celebrate Alaska Day, October 18, which is next Thursday. Miss Wallace, principal, announced today that she had received telegraphic instructions from Commissioner of Education L. D. Henderson, who requested that all school superintendents, principals and teachers pay special attention this year to Alaska Day. Commissioner of Education Henderson suggested that the teachers secure speakers to outline, the full meaning, in the light of history, of the transferring of Alaska from Russia to the United States, what it means to the residents of the Territory to be a part of the United States, what America's mission is in the world and what part each of us must take in a super-union democracy. On next Thursday afternoon at 2:30 o'clock the pupils of the high and grammar school will assemble in the high school rooms. Judge W. H. Whittlesey will make the address of the afternoon and patriotic songs will be given by the students. The actual transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States took place at Sitka on October 18, 1867. At that time the flag of the Czar of Russia was lowered and the American flag was raised. The United States was represented by General Rousseau of the regular army at the ceremony.

From the October 13, 1917 issue of the Seward gateway.

Other articles used the abundance of territorial profit as a bargaining chip to help fund mail services among other amenities:

This is the Birthday of Territory of Alaska: Alaska, As Possession of the United States, is 48 Years Old Today-- Fairbanks Has More Than Paid For It and Its Entire Case and Yet Cannot Get a Mail Service

From the October 18, 1915 issue of the Alaska citizen.

Newspapers used the holiday to instill patriotism in its citizens (Alaska Natives would not be recognized as United States citizens until 1924) by celebrating Alaska’s economic contributions and its territorial shortcomings. Virtually none of the Alaska Day coverage in historic newspapers dealt with Alaska Natives, and deliberately so, based on their second-class status. While the annual Alaska Day Festival in Sitka celebrates October 18th in a traditional manner, with parades, costumes, dances, and pageantry, many groups are confronting this legacy in light of the holiday that, ostensibly, signifies stolen land transfer.

While the people of Alaska have a day off in honor of Alaska Day, it is important to reflect on the history of the holiday, of the generational pain and trauma caused by forceful removal from sacred land, and of the resiliency of Alaska Native tribes throughout the state.

On This Day In History: August 25

For those of us who don’t live in a year-round open season, fall bear season is almost upon us.  Today’s “On This Day In History” post serves as a reminder for all you hunters out there to stay safe and alert to avoid ending up like A.D. Burton during his hunting trip to Chickaloon Bay in 1906.

Article from the August 25, 1906 issue of the Seward Weekly Gateway.


Hunter Badly Used up but Life Saved Because Animal Fell Dead in Struggle

A. D. Burton was badly clawed and one of his arms was broken by a wounded she-bear into which he had put five shots, near Chickaloon bay last week.  The bear dropped dead a moment after she attacked him, and that fact alone saved his life.  He was brought to Sunrise for care.

Burton trailed the bear for a short distance and shot her.  She disappeared in the bushes and he thought she had gone.  He saw two cubs near by and started to capture them.  Unnoticed the wounded mother rushed upon him and was within a few feet before he saw her.  She struck him a violent blow with her paw, breaking one arm and knocking him down.  Another blow cut open his face and body, tearing his clothes into shreds; then the unfuriated beast fell dead across her enemy’s body.

Burton managed to make his way to the beach, where other men put him into a boat and took him to Sunrise.  Chickaloon bay, where the fight occurred, is a few miles below Hope, on Turnagain arm.”

Seward Weekly Gateway newspaper article titled Man Hurt By Wounded Bear

Man Hurt By Wounded Bear article, Seward Weekly Gateway, August 25, 1906

On This Day In History: August 9

The rush to Atlin Lake as reported in the August 9, 1898 issue of the Daily Alaskan.  

Few endeavors are as exciting still as the placer strikes of Alaska.  However, while we may remember aspects such as location, the riches (or the busts), and the often perilous conditions strikers endured for the chance of a lifetime, smaller yet telling details are often overlooked.

This cheeky article in the Daily Alaskan gives perspective into just that – the business men looking to profit off the strikers by packing up loads of whisky and tobacco, or the man who can’t quite seem to decide whether to take a chance and keeps changing his coat throughout the day as he changes his mind.




Few Left To-Day Except Those Unable to Leave Before.


Beyond What Was Given Last Evening, Which Rumor Tends to Confirm and to Exaggerate.

Packer Feero showed the gold he had dug on Pine creek, Atlin lake, with some amount of pride this morning, and appologized for not thinking of it yesterday.  That sounds very much like millionaire talk.  He was buttonholed by a number of would be millionaires, whose names appeared among the entries for the race to Atlin in last evening’s issue, but who were unable to get away until to-day.

There has come in no news to-day, confirmatory or otherwise of the strike on Atlin lake, but the city is filled with rumors.  The DAILY ALASKAN hoped to have a messenger out this afternoon, with reliable dcetails, but up to the time of going to press nothing had been heard from him.

The claim stakers may be said to have gone yesterday.  This was business man’s day.  The schemes for making money were exceedingly plentiful, but it seemed as if impossible to mention a single enterprise that somebody had not already started in with and believed he had a cinch on.  So far as we can learn there were at least seven who each packed in a stock of general merchandise; one man took a supply of whiskey and two others knew they could buy whiskey at Log Cabin or Bennett and save the freight; three cooking stoves were sent out in the wee sma hours of this morning, and one man staked his fortune on one horse and one-hundred and fifty pounds of tobacco and cigars.  Brother Watson is going to have a “pudding.”  He will have his real estate shingle out by the time crowd gets there, and will sell corner lots as fast as he can make change.  Brother Church has gone to, but he took in an empty coal oil can with him, with the ambition to scoot over new territory and fill it with nuggets without bothering to locate anywhere.  He has read books on mining.

The mining fever has spread right to the end of the wharf, and agent Twitchell has caught it.  This afternoon he was studying how to affix wings on to his bicycle, so that he might go in to the new diggings from Log Cabin.

Thomas Whitten put on a blue sweater and started for the mines this afternoon.  He took his surveying instruments with him and has the townsite fever.

Edward Foreman struck the trail for Atlin this afternoon.

Dr. Bryant did not know exactly what to do today.  He changed his opinion and his coat several times.  Early in the morning he sported a mackinaw, and of course he was going to hit the trail.  But a little later he was strutting around in a very elaborate smoking jacket, as an indication that he would not leave Mrs. Bryant for all the gold fields in the new mining district.  In the afternoon he sported a light yachting coat, showing that his thoughts would a roving go, whether he would or no.  An extra will be published this evening if Dr. Bryant’s further changes are sufficient to warrant it.

Harry Lane Meyers, the safe expert, was called into the First Bank of Skaguay a few days ago to change the combination.  He did so and gave it to Cashier Bullen.  The strike excitement crowded the combination out of Mr. Bullen’s head last night and this morning he had to send for Mr. Meyers to open the safe for him.

Mr Everest did not get away until nearly 4 o’clock this afternoon.  He put the delay on his wife, sarcastically suggesting that she was not satisfied with the set of the evening dress in which she will make her debut in Taku society.  It was, in fact, the large business Mr. Everest has been doing in outfitting that caused the delay.  They started for Bennett on the famous grey horses, and from there will go by boat.

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Smith also left this afternoon.

Boniface Brannick was complimented on Sunday, and deservingly so, one beine one of the best-dressed men in town.  At four o’clock this morning he donned a blue flannel shirt.  It destroyed his natty appearance, but it looked like business.  Toward noon he restlessly kicked his heels in front of his famous hotel and began to sprout the grey hairs of worry.  He could not make up his mind whether to be a blue-shirted prospector or a boiled-shirted hotel proprietor.  He hated like Hoboken to miss the chance of going to the new diggings, but then– the next steamers up were sure to crowd his hotel.  As we go to press he retired to a quiet corner to toss up.  Then he mounted his mountain stage with Mr. Hverst, Mr. Whitten and others and went.”