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2017 AHS Conference Call For Papers

Date Posted: February 15, 2017       Categories: 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 Tomorrow and an Alaskan who shaped the state we live in today.



Speakers on History of Alaska and the Law, Mountain View

Date Posted: January 6, 2017       Categories: News

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

Featured Speakers

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-  

Wasilla Centennial Kick Off Celebration

Date Posted: January 3, 2017       Categories: News

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

Book Release

Date Posted: December 8, 2016       Categories: News

University of Alaska Press announces the release offarrow-book-cover

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.

Call for Submissions

Date Posted: December 8, 2016       Categories: News

150 Years: Kenai Peninsula History ConferenceAlaska-150-logo

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: kenaipeninsulahistory@gmail.com. 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.

For more information about the plans, see our website at: http://kenaipeninsulahist.wixsite.com/conference.

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)

Fur trade

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?)

Ship building

Lasting legacies of the Russian period

Role of the Russian Orthodox Church

Russian schools

Russian foods

Kitchen gardens

Place names

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

Ethnic identity

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

Social aspects

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

Fort Kenay

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

Americanization efforts

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

Summing up

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?