Carnations are said to represent a mother’s love, dating back to 1907 when Anna Jarvis (creator of Mother’s Day) selected white carnations as the symbol of the holiday, based on her own mother’s love of the flower.
Over time, however, floral companies chose pink carnations as the Mother’s Day flower, and reserved white carnations to symbolize mothers who had died or were away from their families (which inflated the prices of carnations and other flowers during the month of May– and continue to do so).
This, to Jarvis, represented one of the many ways in which her holiday became commodified and over-commercialized, and she attempted to “take back” the holiday she created, but by then, it had grown into the national phenomenon it remains to this day.
The following assortment of Mother’s Day news items from Alaska’s historic newspapers date back to a time when the holiday was celebrated with church service and the wearing of carnations. Newspaper advertisements, which generally indicate the popularity of a holiday, make seldom mention of a Mother’s Day at all. Indeed, it’s hard to believe that Mother’s Day was once a more muted, reverential affair– exactly the way Anna Jarvis wanted it.
Be sure to share your love and appreciation for your mother, or mothering figure in your life, this Sunday!
It’s that time of year again! This week marks the start of cruise ship season in Alaska. Get used to seeing massive cruise ships in docks and harbors all along the Alaska coastline! Juneau saw its first ship this past Sunday, April 28, and we’re ready to greet more tourists and show the world what’s great about Alaska’s capital city.
One Juneau resident who greeted every ship was a bull terrier named Patsy Ann, deaf since birth, who sensed the oncoming boats and was named the “Official Greeter of Juneau” in 1934. She is even memorialized in a scrapbook here at the Alaska State Library Historical Collections!
Captain Lloyd “Kinky” Bayers, a chronicler of local Juneau history, compiled news items that involved Patsy Ann into an index, cards of which are held at the Research Room of the Alaska State Library.
One news item found by Jacki Swearingen for KTOO Public Media involves a mischievous Patsy Ann laying fresh paw prints on a newly paved sidewalk on South Seward Street. Sadly, it has long since been paved over.
When she passed, the town rallied together and gave her a proper burial at sea, and Captain Bayers wrote the following eulogy:
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, an environmental catastrophe that devastated the Prince William Sound. In honor of Earth Day, it’s fitting to look at news coverage of the spill that impacted the lives of countless Alaskans.
Twenty years later, history repeated itself with an oil spill of another kind. On the evening of Thursday March 23, 1989 the Exxon Valdez oil tanker crashed into Bligh Reef in the Prince William Sound near Valdez. Hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil spilled into the waters and left a trail of dead sea life, lost fishing profits, and a threat to the ways of life for thousands of Alaska Natives.
When we think back on Earth Day, it’s hard not to consider the lasting impacts of pollution. Yet actions in our daily lives affect changes to the planet. Our dependence on fossil fuels has helped accelerate climate change through carbon emissions, which has affected global temperature changes. Fortunately, there are small changes we can make to use less, recycle more, and to increase sustainability.
To ensure the lasting health of the planet, every day is Earth Day.
Be sure to check out the online exhibit on display right now at the Alaska State Library, Archives, and Museum. For more information on the research and records collected by the Alaska State Archives and Historical Collections, take a look at this interview with archivist Chris Hieb.
It’s hard to avoid the alarming reports of measles outbreaks in the United States and worldwide. Vaccines have been proven to prevent the spread of measles; the MMR (measles- mumps-rubella) vaccine, which needs to be administered twice to children, has an effectiveness rate of 97%. Thanks to an effective vaccination program, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared measleseliminated in the United States in 2000.
Nineteen years later, however, measles cases are back are on the rise. The staggering amount of false information about vaccine safety has led to outbreaks of this preventable disease, particularly among vulnerable populations. Measles kills roughly 2 in 1,000 cases and leads to pneumonia in about 6% of cases. At present, there are555 confirmed casesof measles this year alone in 20 states, as well as a300% increasein measles worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.
The following news items are just a handful of the hundred of measles-related stories reported in Alaska’s historic newspapers. A commonality among these stories are reports of children and indigenous populations disproportionately affected by the virus. In 1900, the measles virus devastated Yup’ik, Iñupiat, and Iñupiaq Alaska Native populations.
For everyone’s sake, make sure your children are up-to-date on vaccinations.
The Alaska Folk Festival is currently underway here in Juneau from April 8-14 at Centennial Hall. 2019 marks its 45th year, and to celebrate, we’ll take a look back at the first few years as covered in local news at the time.
There is precious little information about the inaugural Folk Fest. The official website lists no program or poster- not even dates. Under its “History”, the website states the following:
“The Alaska Folk Festival was born on a cold winter evening in 1975 when a half dozen Juneau folk musicians decided to put on a performance in the Alaska State Museum and grandly announced it as the First Annual Southeast Alaska Folk Festival. Eight musicians and an audience of several hundred friends had so much fun that evening that it was obvious there would be more such festivals.
Workshops were formed the following year so that specific skills could be passed on to other musicians, and almost 30 performers were on the program which was extended to 3 days. By 1977 the annual festival had become a regional event with over 50 performers from throughout Southeast Alaska adding their talents to those of Juneau’s musicians.”
On the “Early Years” section of the website, taken from TRAVEL by Mike Miller
from the March 1984 Alaskafest magazine, p 15 – 17, gives further description of this first folk music festival:
“It was called the Southeast Alaska Folk Festival, but even that title was probably too grand at the beginning.
What happened was, a bunch in Juneau who enjoyed pickin’ and strummin’ and making music the old-time way were talking one cold winter night in ’75 and everyone agreed that what they needed–what the whole town needed — was a musical break from cabin fever.
So, without anticipating the grand tradition they were putting in motion, they contacted the state museum, reserved the Governor’s Gallery, and — as much in humor as in actual expectation – named their one night stand the First Annual Southeast Alaska Folk Festival.
More than 400 musicians and spectators showed up to plink, plunk, play the bones, sing, stomp, and revel in the fun of shared entertainment in the folk tradition.
Even before the end of that first night it was established that this event was going to happen every year.”
Given the importance of the Alaska Folk Festival to Juneau, and to the state of Alaska as a whole, I sought to find more information about these first few years that established this beloved tradition.
Using the “cold winter evening in 1975” as an entry point, I looked through the January-April reel of microfilm from the Southeast Alaska Empire (now the Juneau Empire). After combing through page after page,a mere sentence beneath the “Happening In Juneau” community calendar contained the sole mention of a folk music gathering:
Published on March 18, this brief news item indicates that the First Annual Southeast Alaska Folk Festival was held March 19 and 20, 1975 and was billed as a “folk music workshop”.
Looking through the Alaska State Library Historical Collections, the manuscript collection contains a collection of Alaska Folk Festival Programs, the earliest of which dates to 1978. For the 1975 festival, Bob Banghart and Laura Lucas provide recollections of the performers in lieu of a printed program:
Each year, this folk music festival grew in popularity and in offerings to the public. Word of mouth spread and in the following year, the Second Annual Alaska Folk Festival now included a poster and more substantial press coverage- with a schedule of events!
It’s hard to believe that the Alaska Folk Festival has grown in size in the past 45 years from these humble beginnings!
Do you ever feel like sometimes things sometimes just don’t go right? Or that they take much longer than they should, and it’s a process of one step forward and two steps back? The ongoingre-shooting of the bound volumes of the Nome Nugget on the Bookeye scanner sure feels that way.
Just this week we opened up the 1917-1918 volume, only to find that it had sections of pages torn or cut. Because this is our “master copy” of the newspaper, this is really bad news. Unfortunately, we have to make due with what we have; an existing paper, however damaged, is better than no paper at all. Thanks to the expertise of our Sandy Johnston, one of our stellar colleagues in the Historical Collections division at the State Library, we were able to piece together a few pages to our best abilities using mylar sleeves of plastic.
Old newsprint is very fragile and is prone to crumble upon contact. Mylar plastic uses its static electricity to help keep these pages of torn newsprint together- especially when pages need to be flipped over to film the reverse side!
As you can see in the above image, bits and pieces of torn newsprint make filming a challenge. It can feel like a puzzle to piece together parts of the paper. Even with the mylar, though, the glass plate attached to the BookEye scanner that flattens the page may shift these pieces. It requires a great deal of patience and care to film the newspaper so that words can still be detected for optical character recognition (OCR).
What all this has driven home is the importance of proper archival stewardship. Don’t make assumptions that there are backup copies of anything, especially because these are our master copies. An ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure! Fortunately, there are always solutions- no matter how dire a preservation problem seems.
Yesterday marked a statewide holiday throughout Alaska, one that is observed on the fourth Monday of each March.
Each year, the state of Alaska observes Seward’s Day on behalf of William H. Seward, Abraham Lincoln’s secretary of state and individual who orchestrated the purchase of the Alaska territory from Russia. At the time, the move was ridiculed as “Seward’s Folly” and the Alaska territory as “Seward’s Icebox”. But for approximately $7.2 million dollars, the United States now had millions of dollars worth of gold, fur, and (in 1968) the discovery of offshore oil in Prudhoe Bay.
Yet as one of two Alaska-centric holidays throughout the year (Alaska Day being the other one), Seward’s Day is a time to reflect on the state’s history- and, for many government employees, to take a paid holiday.
Big thanks to the Northwest Territories Library Association for this great opportunity to learn a bit more about Janey and to chat about the newspaper project, libraries, preservation, and a neat t-shirt that hangs in her cubicle!
Yesterday, musher Pete Kaiser of Bethel, Alaska won the 2019 Iditarod, with his dog team reaching Nome in 9 days, 12 hours, 39 minutes and 6 seconds. This was his 10th attempt, and is the 5th Alaska Native and very first Yupik musher to win the Iditarod, with last year’s winner, Norwegian musher Joar Ulsom, taking home second place.
Held annually starting the first Saturday in March, the Iditarod race consists of teams of mushers and their dogs from Anchorage to Nome- 1000 miles in total!
Its origins lie in the town of Iditarod itself, home to the last major Alaskan gold rush in 1909. To accommodate the population boom, the Federal government constructed a winter trail for year-round mail and shipping service to the miners from Seward to Nome in 1910 for use by dog sled teams. Thus a tradition was born, with races held each winter well into the 1920s.
Teams of dog sleds helped save hundreds of lives in the wake of the deadly 1925 diphtheria epidemic, with heroic dogs, such as the world-famous Balto and lead dog Togo, led by world-renown musher Leonard Seppala, transport of life-saving serum to snow-bound Nome.
The advent of air travel signaled an end of the integral aspect of the dog sled team, but the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race tradition lives on each year, thanks to Joe Redington Sr., who sought to preserve the sled dog culture and the historical Iditarod Trail.
Today, an average of 65 teams participate, and it typically takes between 9-12 days for the winning dog sled team to reach the finish line.
Although the official Iditarod started a number of years after the span of Alaska newspapers available on Chronicling America, there are several accounts of other dog sled races in Alaska.
The All-Alaska Sweepstakes was among these many races. From 1908 until 1917, the Kennel Club of Nome held the All-Alaska Sweepstakes, a race spanning on the Seward peninsula from Nome to Candle. From the 1931 book Gold, Men and Dogs, well-renown musher A. A. “Scotty” Allen described the route to Candle:
“It was selected because the trail to it from Nome goes over all kinds of country, from sea ice to high mountains, with rivers, tundra, timber, glaciers, and everything else in the way of mental and physical hardships en route. We knew there wouldn’t be any doubt about the excellence of a dog or driver that covered it.”
Esther Birdsall Darling, Allen’s partner and co-owner of his dog teams in the All-Alaska Sweepstakes between 1908-1915, stands out as one of the notable women actively involved in sled dog racing in Alaska. In 1916 she wrote a book titled Baldy of Nome that chronicled the rescue story of Baldy, pictured below, who led Allen’s team to victory. The text of this book can be read online in its entirety.
Click here for more information on the Iditarod and its history. To learn more about the All-Alaska Sweepstakes, click here.
Congratulations to Pete Kaiser, and to all those who participated in the Iditarod this year!
Today marks International Women’s Day, and an opportunity to shed light on the representation of women in Alaska’s historical newspapers, focusing primarily on women’s suffrage and the Alaska Native Sisterhood.
Alaska historical newspapers focused the bulk of their writing on men, the focus on women’s suffrage was exception. Despite women being granted the right to vote, news coverage of global women’s suffrage was overwhelmingly negative and often reinforced sexist stereotypes. Alaska newspapers published articles in praise of the “rugged” spirit of Alaska women, often as a stark contrast to their more sheltered counterparts in the Lower 48, as the following articles demonstrate.
To achieve political representation on behalf of Alaska Native women, a group of graduates from the Sheldon Jackson school in Sitka met together in Haines in 1915 to form the Alaska Native Sisterhood, or ANS, for a women’s counterpart to the Alaska Native Brotherhood formed in 1912. Several other chapters formed throughout the state.
Historical newspapers in Alaska available on Chronicling America, as a whole, devoted few items to the formation of the Alaska Native Sisterhood. The Alaska Fisherman, the official newspaper of the Alaska Native Brotherhood, will be added as a part of the current grant cycle, which includes news related to the Alaska Native Sisterhood.
There is a great deal of progress to be made towards gender equality in the United States.(It is a telling indicator of the times that the above article mentioned the married members of the Sisterhood in relation to their husbands’ names.) May International Women’s Day be an opportunity to make contributions by women visible to all.
The 91st annual Academy Awards were held Sunday night, with its gold Oscar statuettes handed out to a number of talented individuals in the motion picture industry.
Alaska has its own history of gold, as can be found in countless articles in historic newspapers. Take a look at the following news items of those who hit the mother lode- and photographs from the Alaska State Library Historical Collections of some valuable gold nuggets: