Mother’s Day

The Alaska Citizen: Fairbanks, Alaska, Monday Morning, May 14, 1917.; Beneath a black and white illustration of a carnation tied with a ribbon text reads: Mother's Day---God Bless Her in Every Nation.

Image credit: The Alaska citizen. (Fairbanks, Alaska), 14 May 1917. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn96060002/1917-05-14/ed-1/seq-1/>

Happy Mother’s Day!

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.

Mother's Day Will Be Observed Here: Mother's Day is Sunday, May 12. It will be properly observed with special services at the Presbyterian church, Sunday evening at eight o'clock. If your mother is alive, honor her by attending this service, if she is gone honor her memory in the same manner. Special music and an appropriate address will help you keep aright the day.

Image credit: The Alaska citizen. (Fairbanks, Alaska), 14 May 1917. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn96060002/1917-05-14/ed-1/seq-1/>

Mother's Day. Tomorrow, the second Sunday in May, has been set aside as "Mother's Day." We believe it was Col. Roosevelt who suggested the day and its purpose. Mother's Day, one might imagine, was a peculiarly Alaskan observation, for in no other land over which the Stars and Stripes wave, have there been more men who have severed all ties with those left behind. Not, perhaps, that our men are different that those of other localities, but rather, that conditions in the earlier days were such that correspondence was either very difficult if not impossible. Of mail service, there was often none or else it was bad or indifferent. The hardy prospector went into the unknown depths of a new country, out of the beaten paths. Successes were not as frequently marked as failures, with the inevitable result that home, fireside, mother and family were laid aside as of the past. Years rolled on and then came a fear to write lest we learn that mother had gone missing with the missing son's name on her lips. Yes, Mothers' day should be a grand day for Alaskans. On that day, all of us who are still blessed with mother's presence on earth, should devote a portion of the day to telling mother those things she likes best to hear. We should be able to say to her that though our material successes have been few, yet we stand upright among men. That as we rest under the star light or are delving in the bowels of the earth our thoughts often recur to her and to home and the loved ones. Such a letter, we owe to her to write. To ourselves we owe much more. It is for us to remember her sacrifices in our behalf; the wealth of love she lavished upon us; the ends to which she would have gone for our well being. There is nothing on earth so pure, unselfish and self-sacrificing as mother love; nothing so infinite that one human can give another. Let us, then, on the morrow, make amends for our past silence, and write to mother the outpouring of our hearts and thank God that He, in His infinite mercy, has permitted mother to remain until her long and last wish had been attained-- she had heard from her long lost boy.

Image credit: Valdez daily prospector. (Valdez, Alaska), 11 May 1912. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn98060264/1912-05-11/ed-1/seq-2/>

Mother's Day is Observed: "Mother's Day" was observed by the school children of Chatanika on Friday with appropriate ceremonies, according to word received in Fairbanks from the creek city. There were exercises at the school house participated in by practically all of the children, and attended by a large number of the grown-ups.

Image credit: The Alaska citizen. (Fairbanks, Alaska), 14 May 1917. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn96060002/1917-05-14/ed-1/seq-1/>

Congressional Church to Observe Mothers' Day: Douglas, May 8.--The Congressional church at this place will observe "Mothers' Day" Sunday. An invitation has been extended everybody to attend the services, and each one is requested to wear a white carnation, the emblem of the day, if that is possible. Three girls will give the welcoming address, and present every mother present with a white carnation. There fore, every mother is particularly urged to be present. The flowers are gifts from Sunday School students. Mr. V. A. von Godeen will sing, "My Mother's Prayer." The choir will have special music for the occasion. The subject of the sermon will be "Mother." It has been suggested by those who are interested in "Mothers' Day" that everybody who can do so visit his mother Sunday, and that those who cannot do so write her a letter.

Image credit: The Alaska daily empire. (Juneau, Alaska), 08 May 1914. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84020657/1914-05-08/ed-1/seq-4/>

Tomorrow is Mother's Day: Observed All Over Country; Badge is White Carnation and Civic League Makes Arrangements for a Supply of These Flowers-- Will Arrive on Evans. Tomorrow is Mother's Day, which will be celebrated in practically every community throughout the United States, usually by special services in the various churches. The founders of the movement for an annual observance of the day give the following as its object: An all-nations and simultaneous observance for the well-being and honor of the home. The observances of the day through some distinct act of kindness, visit, letter, tribute, showing remembrance of the mother and father to whom grateful affection is due. Its slogan is "In honor of the Best Mother Who Ever Lived." The badge is a white carnation. That all who wish to observe the day in Valdez may wear the distinctive badge, the Civic League has made arrangements for a large shipment of white carnations, which will arrive here this evening on the steamer Evans. Arrangements will be made for their sale soon after they arrive.

Image credit: Valdez daily prospector. (Valdez, Alaska), 06 May 1916. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn98060264/1916-05-06/ed-1/seq-4/>

Be sure to share your love and appreciation for your mother, or mothering figure in your life, this Sunday!

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Seward’s Day

Black and white illustration of William H. Seward in profile facing left with his signature underneath the engraving.

Image credit: engraved profile of William H. Seward courtesy of the Alaska State Library Historical Collections.

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.

Alaska Purchased by Seward Fifty Years Ago Tonight at a Card Table; The real story of the purchase of Alaska, or rather, the final move after a long series of conferences, is contained in a fragment of Frederick W. Seward's story of his father's purchase of Alaska from Russia for the United States in 1867 as told in "Reminiscences of a Wartime Statesman and Diplomat." On the evening of Friday, March 29, Seward was playing whist in his parlor with some of his family, when the Russian minister was announced. "I have a dispatch, Mr. Seward, from my government by cable. The emperor gives his consent to the cession. Tomorrow, if you like, I will come to the department and we can enter upon the treaty." Seward with a smile of satisfaction, pushed away the whist table, saying: "Why wait until tomorrow, Mr. Stoeckl? Let us make the treaty tonight." "But your department is closed. You have no clerks, and my secretaries are scattered about the town." "Never mind that," responded Seward. "If you can muster your legation together before midnight you will find me awaiting you at the department, which will be open and ready for business." In less than two hours afterward light was streaming out of the windows of the state department, and apparently business was going on as at midday. By 4 o'clock Saturday morning the treaty was signed, sealed and ready for transmission by the president to the senate. There was need of this haste in order to have it acted upon before the end of the session, then near at hand. The Seward Gateway and The Alaska Evening Post: Volume XI. Number III; Seward, Alaska, Thursday, March 29, 1917; Ten Cents the Copy; Land of the Last Frontier; Gold, Coal Copper and Fish.

Image credit: March 29, 1917 issue of the Seward Gateway and the Alaska Evening Post, courtesy of the Alaska State Library Historical Collections.

The holiday in honor of a man responsible for the further loss of Indigenous land is a difficult issue, and contributes to the legacy of historical trauma. According to William L. Iggiagruk Hensley, the purchase of Alaska was steeped in the concept of “Manifest Destiny” an expansion of the American empire. Additionally, Seward viewed the vast natural resources in Alaska as a valuable asset to the United States. Many historical accounts credit Seward for ending Russian occupation and enslavement of Natives during the fur trade. Yet Seward’s expansionism was made plain in 1848, in that “our
population is destined to roll its resistless waves to the icy barriers of the north, and to encounter oriental civilization on the shores of the Pacific.”

Black and white print from the painting: the Signing of Treaty of Cessation, March 30, 1867. Shown left to right; Robert S. Chew; William. H. Seward (Secretary of State), William Hunter; Mr. Bodisco; Baron de (Eduard) Stoeckl (Russian Diplomat); Charles Sumner and Frederick W. Seward.

Image credit: A print from the painting by Emanuel Leutze, Signing of Treaty of Cessation, March 30, 1867, showing the Alaska Purchase. Shown left to right; Robert S. Chew; William. H. Seward (Secretary of State), William Hunter; Mr. Bodisco; Baron de (Eduard) Stoeckl (Russian Diplomat); Charles Sumner and Frederick W. Seward. Courtesy of the Alaska State Library Historical Collections.

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.

Kids Rejoice! Tomorrow Big Holiday Date: Acting Governor Thiele Sends Glad Tidings of the Great Joy: There will be no school tomorrow, in observance of Seward Day,--in honor of the memory of William H. Seward, the great Secretary of State under President Abraham Lincoln, who brought about the purchase of Alaska from Russian and withstood the gibes and criticism of short-sighted men who though Alaska was an iceberg. March 30 is now a legal holiday in the Territory of Alaska. All offices and schools will be closed. The "glad tidings of great joy", as the children regard, came today from Acting Governor Carl Thiele at Juneau. The anniversary was not observed last year, due to lack of arrangements, but it is now a redletter date and established custom.

Image credit: The Cordova daily times. (Cordova, Alaska), 29 March 1922. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86072239/1922-03-29/ed-1/seq-8/>

International Women’s Day

Black and white photograph of five Alaska Native women standing in the foreground wearing white dresses with envelope-style hats and sashes worn across the front that read "ANS". The woman on the far right wears a sash that reads "Grand President." Three women stand in the background with similar outfits.

Image credit: from the Alaska State Library Historical Collections, photograph titled “Group portrait of ANS [Alaska Native Sisterhood] officers”. Front row, from right: Lottie Nannauck; Marlene Sprague; Mary Jones; Theresa Stitt; Gertrude Wolf. Back row, from left: Laura Hotch; and Mildred Sparks.

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’s territorial government granted women the right to vote in 1913, a full seven years before the 19th Amendment was ratified. This right to vote was not extended to Alaska Native women, however.

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.

Something of Pioneer Women in Alaska: Mrs. Strong, wife of Gov. J. F. A. Strong of Alaska, talking recently to the Providence Journal, said of the women of Alaska: "I do not know of any other women who can equal them in resourcefulness. And they are filled with an energy which makes nothing too hard of accomplishment. If they give an afternoon tea it is in as attractive surroundings as one could find anywhere, with the same appointments as the East affords. Flowers from Seattle will adorn the rooms, the whitest of napery covers the table, while the service is perfect, not to mention the refreshments." The women of Alaska have suffrage, the first bill passed by the new Legislature a year ago giving them that right and women have been members of the board of education and held similar offices. The children are very patriotic, singing their Alaska songs with fervor, as if patriotism meant more to them than to the majority of American children. It is 17 years since the future Governor and his wife first went to Alaska and Mrs. Strong vividly recalls the difference between the two trips made along the Yukon. She says: "Once we made when we first entered the country. It is what is known as the interior trip of the Yukon--over wild mountain passes, behind dog teams, whipsawing our lumber for crude craft when we came to the streams. It was a trip through the primitive, with obstacles on every hand. And, yet, I can recall no circumstance which struck me as a big adventure at the time. One takes the days as they come, overcomes what obstacles appear, and keeps on. "The second trip we made when the Governor had been in office but a short time. It was over the same trail. But, oh, what a different trip! Along the mountain passes in well-equipped trains on the rivers in the palatial Yukon steamships! It was a contrast I shall never forget."

Image credit: The Alaska daily empire. (Juneau, Alaska), 16 Sept. 1914. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84020657/1914-09-16/ed-1/seq-6/>

Douglas News Thinks Alaska Women All Right: It is evident that the Douglas news does not favor women sufferage as a general proposition, but it thinks it is different in Alaska. The admiration of the Douglas paper for Alaska women is apparent in the following item from its columns: "By the provisions of a recent act of congress, the women of Alaska are to be granted the right of suffrage. Well and good; Alaska women may well be trusted to exercise this right, although they have not asked for it. The women of Alaska are usually of the kind that stay at home and tend to the babies, plan spring bonnets, make over old dresses, and mind their own business, but if the poker-playing, champagne drinking, pleasure-chasing congressmen think they should vote, they will do it with their accustomed grace and modesty, and in an intelligent manner, too. "The women of Alaska, God bless them, are not the pampered dolls of society who drive men to the devil and drink, but they are brave and noble helpers in the development of a frontier country. They have left their cozy homes in the states to take their places by the side of their husband and share with him the battles of life. When the cruel winds of adversity have chilled the blood and appalled the stoutest heart, these women have had words of cheer and comfort for the distressed. Alaskans are willing that they should vote and have no fear of the consequence."

Image credit: The daily Alaskan. (Skagway, Alaska), 18 June 1904. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82014189/1904-06-18/ed-1/seq-3/>

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.

Native Women of Douglas Organize Alaska Native Sisterhood. The Alaska Native Sisterhood Society was organized by the native women of Douglas yesterday under the guidance of Henry Stevens, President of the Douglas Camp of the Alaska Native Brotherhood. The women's society will follow the same constitution bylaws as the A.N.B. Officers elected by the women for the first year are: Mrs. Sarah Fontaine, President; Mrs. Edith Johnson, Secretary; Mrs. Henry Stevens, Treasurer. The membership includes Mesdames Sarah Smith, John Dennis, Joe Rogers, Frank Hubbard, Billie Hanson, Thomas Johnson; Misses Bessie Daniels, Daisy Fox, Susie Marshall and Mrs. Mabel Horn. Additional members probably will join in the near future. The new society will meet regularly each week.

Image credit: The Alaska daily empire. (Juneau, Alaska), 30 Dec. 1920. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84020657/1920-12-30/ed-1/seq-7/>

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.

 

Presidents Day Observed

Welcome back from the three-day holiday weekend in honor of Presidents Day!

Alaska’s Digital Newspaper Project’s Instagram provided a collage of news items from Washington’s birthday, but today we’re giving Abraham Lincoln a proper shout-out:

Clockwise from top left, from the Feb 9, 1918 issue of the Iditarod Pioneer, an illustration of Abraham Lincoln is between text that reads: “With malice towards none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right.”—Abraham Lincoln “Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith let us to the end dare to our duty as we understand it.”—Abraham Lincoln. From the Feb 12, 1920 issue of the Alaska Daily Empire, with a photo of Abraham Lincoln superimposed on photos of his log cabin and the White House, text reads: “Celebrating the birthday of Abraham Lincoln: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States, was born in Harden County, K.Y., February 12, 1809. When Indian hostilities began in the year 1832 Lincoln volunteered in a company of Sangamon county rifles organized in Richland, Ill., and was elected its captain. When the company was mustered out he went to New Salem, where in his first political venture he was defeated as a candidate for the Illinois Legislature. Lincoln then entered business as a general merchant in New Salem, but met with reverses. He then applied himself to the study of law, and for a short time he was the Postmaster and Deputy County Surveyor of New Salem. In 1833 he became a leader in the republican party immediately upon its organization and was defeated by Stephen A. Douglas for the United States Senate in 1838. Lincoln was elected as a republican President of the United States and was inaugurated March 4, 1861. He was shot by J. Wilkes Booth while attending Ford’s Theatre, in the city of Washington D.C., on the night of April 14, 1865, and died the following day.” From the Feb 12, 1910 issue of the Daily Alaskan, with a photo of Abraham Lincoln, text reads: “People Pay Respect To Loved Leader, Lincoln.”

Image credit: From the February 9, 1918 issue of the Iditarod Pioneer; From the February 12, 1920 issue of the Alaska Daily Empire; From the February 12, 1910 issue of the Daily Alaskan.

Groundhog Day

February 2 marks Groundhog Day. While a relatively small population of groundhogs or woodchucks live in the Interior of Alaska, their relative the marmot is a more common resident. Alaska marmots (Marmota broweri), hoary marmots (Marmota caligata), and woodchucks/groundhogs (Marmota monax) all belong to the squirrel family. Alaska sees its fair share of hoary marmots like the one below, and are the largest members of the squirrel family (Sciuridae) in North America.

Photograph of hoary marmot on a rock surrounded by other rocks.

Image taken by author.

Map of Alaska with the population of Hoary Marmots superimposed over the Southeast, Interior, and South Central regions of the state.

Image credit: Alaska Department of Fish and Game: https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=hoarymarmot.rangemap

While its more famous cousins hog the limelight on February 2nd, marmots appear in Alaska’s historical newspapers, more often than not for their fur coats.

There is one, for instance, an outfit made of a white homespun woolen material with the roughest sort of surface. Then the trimming is done with bands of marmot fur, making a delicious contrast and a most effective spotting of decoration. Image: illustration of a woman wearing a hat and a skirt and a coat trimmed with marmot fur with a walking stick. Caption: White Suit of Homespun, Marmot Trimming on Collar and Cuffs.

Image credit: The Cordova daily times. (Cordova, Alaska), 31 Aug. 1922. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86072239/1922-08-31/ed-1/seq-3/>

Men's Fur Lined Coats: Lined with dark muskrat, with extra fine quality imported broadcloth shell and large marmot mink collar. Worth nearly double the price. On sale now at...$65.00

Image credit: The Alaska citizen. (Fairbanks, Alaska), 04 Dec. 1911. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn96060002/1911-12-04/ed-1/seq-8/>

It is unfortunate that the marmot receives such scant attention, especially given its prominence in Alaska. But for those interested in the happenings of large ground rodents, Groundhog Day is a bonanza. Whether or not you believe in the superstition, there is no shortage of news items that cover the groundhog’s winter weather prognostications. A small sample is included below:

"Old Man" Groundhog Billed to Peer Around Tomorrow: Tomorrow is the day that Mr. Groundhog is billed to make his annual debut on the hills back of Juneau to cast his weather eye about and decide whether or not there is to be a late or early spring. If he sees his shadow on that day it is said that he crawls back into his hole in the ground and stays there for six weeks. If he sees no shadow he sticks around as an indication that the weather is soon to break and spring will be early. With the brand of weather that is on tap right now and has been on tap for several days it is predicted that there will be no shadows for Mr. Groundhog to shy at tomorrow. Some one was mean enough to remark that it was an awful lucky thing than old man Groundhog did not attempt to amble about any yesterday while the high wind was blowing or he might have been blown back into his hole with a broken leg, head, or back.

Image credit: The Alaska daily empire. (Juneau, Alaska), 01 Feb. 1921. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84020657/1921-02-01/ed-1/seq-8/>

Sunshine Much Feared: Douglas, Feb. 1.--There is one day of each year when sunshine is not welcomed in any part of the country and tomorrow is that day. Tomorrow is "Groundhog" day, the day when, regardless of wind or weather, the little animal ventures to emerge from his den in the ground or under rocks to size up conditions. After hibernating several weeks, the groundhog is naturally timid and is easily frightened. There fore, if it sees its own shadow when it comes forth into the light, it becomes frustrated and naturally hikes back under the ground where it remains another six weeks, during which period Old Bory holds high carnival, Taku winds howl and winter lingers. However, in the event there is no sun to create a shadow, the groundhog soon acquires confidence and remains out in the open, in which event winter sneaks away into the offing, spring advances and all nature stands on her head and dangles her heels in the air in glee. All good people--people imbued with the spirit that seeks to advance the public welfare-- will hope, and even pray, that the sun may not shine tomorrow, but that clouds, dark, thick, and dense, may hover over this section of Alaska just like they do on picnic days in summer. The sun is shining brightly here today which fast is causing considerable uneasiness.

Image credit: The Alaska daily empire. (Juneau, Alaska), 01 Feb. 1918. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84020657/1918-02-01/ed-1/seq-7/>

Groundhog Backs Up. The official groundhog came forth this morning, took a slant at the sun and slid back into his hole with his nose nipped. He is due to reappear in six weeks, which will be March 15. According to the statute in such case made and provided in the cornfed Middle West winter should end on that date, but the latitude and climate of Alaska are too stiff even for a groundhog, and when he comes out then he is likely to give the weather the once-over and retire for another six weeks. An Alaska groundhog ought to be given two guesses at spring.

Image credit: Valdez daily prospector. (Valdez, Alaska), 02 Feb. 1917. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn98060264/1917-02-02/ed-1/seq-2/>

Bad Day for the Old Ground-Hog: If the alleged faith of the groundhog in the tradition of his kind is based on fact, we are in for some bad weather before the sun gets back on our side of the equator. Today is "Ground-hog Day," and if the ground hog came out he saw his shadow, for the sun was shining brightly hereabouts this morning. The New England tradition is that the ground-hog comes out of his hole on the second day of February and if he sees his shadow he hastens back to cover to remain for six weeks.

Image caption: The Alaska daily empire. (Juneau, Alaska), 02 Feb. 1915. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84020657/1915-02-02/ed-1/seq-1/>

Groundhog Day Was Phenomenal: it must have been a reluctant retreat made by the cautious old groundhog yesterday morning, after stepping out of doors and observing his dark shadow cast across show as bright and soft as if warmed by an April instead of an early-February sun. According to tradition, the ground hog went back into his hole to remain six weeks longer, and thereby escape the storms portended by the present fair weather. There are some people hereabout who profess to believe the groundhog has played a joke on himself this time. The winter having been fine beyond all precedent so far, they contend that it is rather more logical to conclude that it will continue so than it will vent its full fury in its closing days. However that may be, the groundhog was greeted by a radiant day.

Image credit: Iditarod pioneer. (Iditarod, Alaska), 03 Feb. 1912. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn95060032/1912-02-03/ed-1/seq-4/>

Whether the proverbial groundhog sees his shadow or not, it’s important to keep warm these next few weeks. And keep an eye out for the humble marmot!

Santa Claus In Alaska’s Newspapers

With Us Again

Image credit: from the December 24, 1917 issue of the Seward Gateway

Greetings, all!

‘Tis the season for gift giving and merry making, and no one is more prominently featured in historic Alaska newspapers as the symbol of generosity (and consumerism!) than Santa Claus. It is well documented that the Coca-Cola corporation popularized (but did not invent) the modern image of Santa Claus in a red suit, due to Haddon Sundblom’s artwork (who also created the artwork for the Quaker oats Quaker and Aunt Jemima), but Clement Clarke Moore’s A Visit from St. Nicholas gave us the image of the jolly man with white whiskers:

“…He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opened his pack.
His eyes- how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a round little belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself…”

Without further ado, enjoy a sampling of Santa Claus imagery in Alaska’s historic newspapers:

...Santa Claus...Has Arrived From The North Pole

Image credit: From the December 24, 1909 issue of the Daily Alaskan

Santa Claus in Alaska

Image credit: From the December 23, 1911 issue of the Daily Alaskan

Hello Cordova! Santa Claus is Here

Image credit: from the December 13, 1921 issue of the Cordova Daily Times

To the Boys and Girls of Gastineau Channel: Santa Claus Will be at the Leader Department Store all day Saturday to meet his little friends. He will have a present for every youngster that comes and will help show you a good time. Be sure to come. Santa thinks the Leader is the best place to get acquainted with the Kiddies, because there are so many dandy toys here. Bring your folks along. They will be just as much interested in seeing Santa Claus and his toys as you are. Don’t forget! Santa Claus will be here tomorrow!

Image credit: from the December 20, 1919 issue of the Alaska Daily Empire

“Pleased to Meet You; Toyland"

Image credit: From the December 7, 1920 issue of the Cordova Daily Times

Santa Claus carries a sack full of toys.

Image credit: from the December 23, 1911 issue of the Daily Alaskan

Friends

Image credit: from the December 24, 1920 issue of the Cordova Daily Times

Good Things For Everyone

Image credit: from the December 17, 1899 issue of the Daily Morning Alaskan

Are You Really Santa Claus?

Image credit: from the December 14, 1915 issue of the Cordova Daily Times

Merry Christmas Everybody!

Image credit: from the December 23, 1916 issue of the Cordova Daily Times