AHS Blog

2021 Alaska Historical Society Awards

Date Posted: October 18, 2021       Categories: News

Alaska Historical Society Recognizes Ten Alaskans and Organizations for Outstanding Contributions to the Promotion of Alaska History

The Alaska Historical Society has presented ten awards to Alaskans and Alaska organizations to recognize their outstanding contributions to the study of Alaska history. The awards were presented October 15, 2021 during the Annual Business Meeting held during the final weekend of the Society’s six-day annual virtual conference.

The awards include:

Evangeline Atwood Award for Excellence – given to an individual for significant long-term contributions to Alaska history. Joan Skilbred of Fairbanks was recognized for “decades of extraordinary energy and prodigious research skills toward uncovering and disseminating Alaska history.” Her topics have included the significance of logging in early Fairbanks, contributions of pioneer women and early African-American gold miners in Interior Alaska.

Elva R. Scott Local Historical Society Award – recognizes an historical society or museum for its programs, publications or a significant recent accomplishment. Two organizations received this year’s award: the Cook Inlet Historical Society and the Anchorage Museum. They coordinated the production of eight on-line lectures during Covid restrictions when most in-person events were cancelled. One program honored the centennial of Anchorage’s first classical music concert (recreated by Anchorage Festival of Music and available here) and another proposed a resolution to the infamous unsolved death of Anchorage’s first police chief, John Sturgus. Rebecca Pottebaum at the Museum and Bruce Parham with the Society received special recognition.

Esther Billman Award – given to a society, museum, government agency or organization contributing to the preservation and understanding of Alaska history during the past year. This year’s winner is the Gastineau Channel Historical Society of Juneau for its excellent newsletter, Gastineau Heritage News. This year the society compiled a remarkable and comprehensive history of Juneau-Douglas breweries, tracking brewing to the 1700s when Russians introduced liquor to the Aleutian Islands, summarized the ever-changing liquor laws and public sentiment, and introduced the thriving craft brewing industry. Newsletter editor Laury Scandling and President Gary Gillette are recognized for outstanding work.

Contributions to Alaska History Award – recognizes individuals or groups for projects, publications and other efforts that have significantly promoted and added to understanding Alaska history. Three awards were made this year: Irene Sparks Rowan of Anchorage for her work to preserve and share the history of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act; Alaska journalist and author Dermot Cole of Fairbanks is recognized for his commitment to journalism to which he brings a deep historical perspective, his contributions to Alaska history through publication of six books and his courage to ask tough questions of public figures; and J. Pennelope Goforth of Anchorage is recognized for many years as a researcher and writer and for her impassioned advocacy for Alaska history, especially Alaska’s maritime history which she has been researching at least since the 1980s.

The Society annually gives Student and Beginning Professional Travel Scholarship Awards to help individuals attend and participate in the Alaska Historical Society/Museums Alaska annual meetings and conference. The Society’s Board of Directors recently voted to rename this the Terrence M. Cole Student and Beginning Professional Travel Scholarship Awards, to recognize the contributions of the late UAF Professor Terrence Cole. This year’s recipient is Lauren Peters, a doctoral student in Native American Studies at the University of California Davis. Lauren presented at the Society’s conference this year on “Sophia’s Return,” about a girl from St. Paul Island who was orphaned and sent in 1895 to the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania where she died. This past summer, Sophia’s remains were returned to St. Paul Island.

The editorial advisory board members of the Society’s journal, Alaska History, make an award for the best article that appeared in the last volume of the journal. Former Alaskans Morgan and Jeanie Sherwood endowed this award and the recipient receives $500. This year’s Award goes to Robert L. Spude for his article “Fairbanks Assayer Gustave Eugene Beraud and 88 Tons of Gold, with Comments on the Assayers in the Alaska-Yukon Goldfields, 1898-1920” in a 2020 edition of the journal.

The President’s Award/Beaver Log – presented by the Society president to an individual for outstanding contributions. This year’s award goes to David Ramseur of Anchorage for editing, expanding and improving Alaska History News, the Society’s quarterly newsletter, and for helping with the organization’s advocacy efforts.