AHS Blog | News
Call For Papers
Exploring the Legacy of the Alaska Purchase
Alaska Historical Society Annual Conference
September 27-30, 2017 in Anchorage, Alaska
Once Alaska was known to the world as Russian America. All of that ended 150 years ago when William H. Seward and Edward de Stoeckl signed the treaty that ceded those Russian possessions to the United States. Since then Alaska has evolved from a military district, to a territory, and finally into the forty-ninth state of the United States. This year the Anchorage Museum is hosting the joint Alaska Historical Society/Museums Alaska annual conference. The 2017 theme—Exploring the Legacy of the Alaska Purchase—invites reflections on how that moment charted a new destiny for Alaska. In particular the theme opens the door for indigenous perspectives on the meaning of this pivotal event. Please join us as we examine how Alaska’s history unfolded, is unfolding and may yet unfold since that day in 1867 when Czar Alexander II abandoned North America. Presentations on Alaska history topics are welcome.
Our featured speaker will be Professor Willie Hensley, author of Fifty Miles from Nowhere and an Alaskan who shaped the state we live in today.
YOU ARE INVITED TO SUBMIT PROPOSALS FOR PAPERS, PANELS, AND POSTER SESSIONS. PAPER PRESENTATIONS ARE LIMITED TO 20 MINUTES. PRESENTERS MUST BE REGISTERED FOR THE CONFERENCE.
PROPOSALS ARE DUE MAY 1, 2017 AND SHOULD BE SENT TO TIM TROLL, PROGRAM CHAIR, TROLL@GCI.NET.
In 2017, Tundra Vision is once again hosting “Thursday Nights in Mountain View” a participatory history series that takes place on the fourth Thursday of each month at the Mountain View Branch Library in Anchorage, Alaska. The theme of this year’s lectures is Alaska and the Law. Each night features a different speaker, and invites history enthusiasts to muse upon how Alaskans used our commonalities as well as our differences to build a system of justice on the Last Frontier.
Time: Public Engagement Session with Refreshments: 6:00pm
Speaker Presentation: 6:30pm to 7:30pm
Place: Mountain View Branch Library, 120 Bragaw Street, Anchorage
January 26: Terrence Cole, Professor of History, UAF
The Judge: Tales, Trails, and Trials, Establishing Alaska’s Early Court System
February 23: Anchorage Youth Court
Justice for Youth by Youth
March 30: William Iggiagruk Hensley, Professor of Business and Public Policy, UAA
Sesquicentennial Perspectives: Two Historical Views of the Alaska Purchase
April 27: Mara Kimmel, Attorney and Co-Founded the Alaska Institute for Justice
Newcomers in Alaska: Understanding Immigration Law and Policy
May 25: Justice Dana Fabe, Retired Alaska Supreme Court Justice
A Conversation with Alaska’s First Female Supreme Court Justice
For more information visit: https://www.facebook. com/Tundra-Vision-Public-History-Consultants-
Honoring Our Past, Celebrating Our Present, Igniting Our Future
Wasilla Centennial Kick Off Celebration
Saturday, January 7, 2017
Menard Center at 1001 S. Clapp Street in Wasilla
11:00 am to 2:00 pm: Family Free Skate
12:00 pm: Centennial Bake Off Competition
7:00 to 10:00 pm: Centennial Ball and City Families Presentation; Music and Food
Please join the Dorothy G. Page Museum at 323 N. Main Street, Wasilla in celebrating the City of Wasilla’s one hundred year anniversary. Enjoy various events throughout the day. Don’t miss an evening of memories, good food, good music, good company and good times. Come honor those in our community who have seen Wasilla throughout the years.
For more information: www.cityofwasilla.com/centennial
University of Alaska Press announces the release of
Sewards’ Folly: A New Look at the Alaska Purchase
By Lee A. Farrow
Available December 2016
Paper Price: $25.95
About the Book:
The Alaska Purchase—denounced at the time as “Seward’s Folly” but now seen as a masterstroke—is well known as a key moment in American history. But few know the whole story.
This book aims to correct that. Lee A. Farrow offers here a detailed account of just what the Alaska Purchase was, how it came about, its impact at the time, and more. Farrow shows why both America and Russia had plenty of good reasons to want the sale to occur, including Russia’s desire to let go of an unprofitable, hard-to-manage colony and the belief in the United States that securing Alaska could help the nation facilitate control of the continent and, many believed, eventually lead to the absorption of British Columbia. Farrow also delves into the implications of the deal for foreign policy and international diplomacy far beyond Russia and the United States at a moment when the global balance of power was in question.
A thorough, readable retelling of a story we only think we know, Seward’s Folly will become the standard book on the Alaska Purchase.
Lee A. Farrow is distinguished teaching professor in the Department of History at Auburn University at Montgomery and director of Auburn’s Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching.
150 Years: Kenai Peninsula History Conference
In April, 2017, the Kenai Peninsula will host its first local history conference in 43 years. This event coincides with statewide observances of the 150th anniversary of the United States’ purchase of Alaska. You are invited to submit ideas for presentations at the main conference, to be held April 21 and 22, 2017 (the Friday and Saturday after Easter) at the Kenai Peninsula College Kenai River Campus in Soldotna.
We are seeking people to read or present talks on the conference themes of:
- The transition from Russian to US rule in Southcentral Alaska;
- The Kenai Peninsula in the mid to late 1800s (society, economy, history, religion, culture, resource use);
- Interactions among the region’s Sugpiaq, Dena’ina, Russian, and US cultures; and
- Modern legacies and issues tracing back to the transfer
Below is a more detailed list of potential topics.
Talks should be a maximum of 15 minutes long, suitable for high-school students and older audiences, and based on either original research or sources that can be cited. Team presentations are fine. We ask presenters to grant permission for recording their talks, and to submit written versions to be included in the conference proceedings book afterwards.
You are also encouraged to submit proposals for posters, panel discussions, field trips, or other activities compatible with the conference. And volunteers are always welcome.
If you want to do a presentation, please submit a title and abstract (summary of what you want to talk about) no longer that 250 words. Email it to Shana Loshbaugh at: firstname.lastname@example.org. The submission deadline is January 15, 2017. If you have questions or want to brainstorm ideas, call her at 907-460-7554.
Presenters are required to register for the conference and will receive a 20% discount. Registration will not open until January, and we do not yet know the cost but intend to keep it modest. We will provide editorial assistance in preparing talks for the published proceedings.
List of Possible Topics
Whose history? Issues of fairness, accuracy, inclusion, and power
What was the Treaty of Cession: origin and content
Exclusions of Alaskans from the decisions, then and now
Myths about the sale
Lingering legal questions about the treaty (Native and Russian)
Dena’ina role in controlling land-based furs
Sea mammal hunting in Chugach society
Sea otters in Alaska history; their near extinction
Changes in the fur trade associated with the early US period
Traditional trapping activities
Fur trading posts on the Kenai Peninsula
Ecosystem changes related to the fur trade
Other economic activities of the mid-1800s
Doroshin’s gold discoveries
Coal operations at Port Graham
Early fishing (subsistence & saltries?)
Lasting legacies of the Russian period
Role of the Russian Orthodox Church
Russian language: Ninilchik dialect; loan words in Dena’ina and Sugt’stun
How do modern Russian immigrants and tourists see the Kenai Peninsula?
Community portraits: Kenai, Ninilchik, Nanwalek, Seldovia
Genealogy of original families
Diverse Native groups on the Kenai Peninsula
Diverse Russian ethnicities on the Kenai Peninsula – old and new
How historical forces relocated people and mixed diverse ethnicities
Native, Russian-American, or Sourdough?
What has it meant to be Creole?
Modern Creole views of Russian and Native cultures
Possible panel discussion on ethnic identities
Transmitting traditional values and cultures
Epidemics and population decline
Lost villages of the peninsula (such as the history of Kalifornsky Village)
Roles of indigenous women as leaders, slaves, workers, wives, and mothers
Findings from early historic archaeology sites
Changing livelihoods and resource uses
The transfer from Russian to US control
US presence in the region during the Russian period
What was the Russian presence in 1867?
How was news of the sale spread and received?
Arrival of US officials
First US descriptions/assessments of the Kenai Peninsula
The wreck of the Torrent
Kenai Peninsula life in the decades after the purchase
Time of US neglect?
Changes for Natives and Creoles
Russians who remained in the area
Changing role of the Russian Orthodox Church
First US citizens: traders? missionaries?
American use of Native and Russian information
Suppression of indigenous languages & traditions (such as potlatches)
US management of “Indians”
Discovery of the area’s natural bounty (first prospectors, explorers)
Personalities such as V. Stafeev, Mary Forgal Lowell, Chief Afanasii, Orthodox clergy, founders of Ninilchik
Adventurers such as Ivan Petroff, Joshua Slocum & George Holt
Revival of Native cultures?
What is special about the Kenai Peninsula?
How have attitudes changed?
What have we learned in 150 years?
Where should we be going in the future?
How can knowing our history help us create a better future?