“Communities Remembered and Imagined”
October 6-9 and 13-16, 2021

Call for Papers


Kennecott Mine in 2010. Photo by Neal Herbert, courtesy National Park Service.

Alaska is full of once-thriving communities that now stand empty, or have vanished without a trace.  Some were boom towns that grew up around a gold mine or processor, but shrank when the source of wealth dried up. Others were forcibly abandoned because of natural disaster or war, or lost population to lack of government services and the draw of economic survival. At the same time, other towns have risen from the ashes of former ones, or have been rebuilt in a new location. We have also seen some fictional Alaskan towns as settings for books, movies and television.  Some of them are thinly disguised real places; others are a combination of reality and imagination.

Alaskans have always had to be flexible and creative in building our communities, relying not only on sharing a physical location, but also on more intangible connections to the people in our lives. As the pandemic has reined us in more tightly in our homes and communities, but increased our digital communications, we can appreciate a more accommodating definition of community. This year’s conference theme, Communities Remembered and Imagined, focuses on the life cycles of communities, particularly on those phases that exist only in memory or imagination.

Our 2021 conference will be completely digital and held via Zoom. Again, we will spread the sessions over two weeks, Oct. 6-9 and Oct. 13-16. We plan special sessions on the 50th anniversary of ANCSA, on statues and monuments in Alaska, and much more!

Please join us for the 2021 digital conference! Papers are welcome about any aspect of Alaska history. Presentations are limited to 20 minutes, and all presenters must be registered.

To submit a proposal, please send your presentation title, an abstract of no more than 100 words, and two sentences about yourself to Rachel Mason, Program Chair,  Proposals are due May 15, 2021.


October 8-10 and 15-17, 2020
“Place and Power”

2020 Presentations

Sitka from water, showing the Three Sisters in the background. Sitka Harbor-7, Alaska State Library Photo Collection.

“Place and Power” was the theme for the 2020 Alaska Historical Society Conference. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, we canceled the face-to-face event in Sitka and held the meeting digitally by Zoom. To avoid Zoom fatigue, the conference was stretched out from October 8-10 and 15-17, with 1-1/2 hours in the morning and 1-1/2 hours in the afternoon of each day. For those of you who missed a session or want to hear a paper again, you can now access recordings of the presentations.

When we were going to gather in Sitka, it provided a fitting location for exploring larger questions of power relations over time, such as how governmental laws and policies impact Alaskans and shape our understanding of history and identity.

Conference sessions included: women’s suffrage; the 50th anniversary of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA); the legacy of noted anthropologist and nature writer Richard Nelson; the 1918 flu epidemic; Sitka’s history; Russian America; history in the public square; and Alaska canneries.

2020 Conference Schedule             Abstracts and Presenter Biographies

Fundraising Auction

During every conference, AHS holds a silent auction that is the organization’s primary fundraiser. Donations of items of historical relevance are encouraged. For donations, contact our Executive Director at Alaska Historical Society
 P.O. Box 100299
 Anchorage AK 99510-0299, (907) 276-1596,

Conference Proceedings
From 1990 to 2013, Conference Proceedings were published and are available for purchase. To learn about conferences since 2015, view past schedules at the Conference Archives.

Enjoying a performance during banquet at the 2013 annual conference in Haines, Alaska. Photo by Anjuli Grantham.

Enjoying a performance during banquet at the 2013 annual conference in Haines, Alaska. Photo by Anjuli Grantham.

Enjoying the 2016 Awards Banquet at the Baranof Hotel in Juneau, Alaska.

Enjoying the 2016 Awards Banquet at the Baranof Hotel in Juneau, Alaska. Photo by Chris Allan.