Alaska Genealogy & History Resources

I’ve been sailing the seas once again. This time, we took a wintery trip to Alaska. With some port temperatures at 28 degrees because of wind chill and overcast misty weather, it wasn’t great for sightseeing. However, we’d been there before so the cruise itself was very enjoyable.

It is totally by coincidence that I chose this week to post genealogical and historical resources for Alaska in my 50-state series.

I did walk around Ketchikan and visited Parnassus Books & Gifts, which has a Facebook page.

The shop is a great little book store with lots of books about Alaska history and its peoples. If you are trying to source hard copy books for your own reference shelf, I can recommend Parnassus. It has been in business since 1985.

I met Charlotte Glover and chatted with her for a couple of minutes.


Charlotte

Around many of the nooks and crannies in the store, I found displays featuring all things Alaska from wildlife to Gold Rush to Native people and current Alaskan life:

If you are seeking out a hard-to-find book about Alaska, Parnassus Books & Gifts might be your solution.

I forgot to ask if Parnassus would ship books, so contact Charlotte at the above email and/or phone number.

The remainder of this post was written quite a while before we set off to Alaska and covers online resources.

America’s 49th state, Alaska, has a fascinating history, having possibly been settled by Russians in the 17th century, but certainly settled by the early 18th century.

Although few of us have ancestral roots in Alaska, many of us might be surprised to learn that one or more family members migrated to, and lived in, Alaska in the late 1800s or early 1900s.

As with the 49ers who headed west with the California Gold Rush, thousands of Americans and Canadians traveled to make their fortunes in Alaska and Yukon Territory gold rushes. Not all sought their fortunes in gold – astute business people moved to Alaska to make their fortunes off the backs of the gold miners.

If you have an adventurous ancestor who migrated to Alaska during this period and want to find out more about them and their lives, there are a number of online resources to help.

My suggestion for beginning Alaskan research is much like one would do when “jumping the pond” to trace family back into Europe. Gather all the documented information and clues about the family member thought to have traveled to Alaska. Keep in mind that it is very possible that you won’t be able to find your ancestor’s name in official records. If your ancestor was an Alaska Native (Eskimo or other native tribe), indigenous peoples did not keep written records. If they appear in government documents, they will have been recorded by the Russian or American officials.

When you are ready to delve into Alaskan records, here are some resources to get you started. There are many ways to learn about the Alaskan way of life, cultures and history. some of these links are to Yukon resources, but their histories are somewhat intertwined.

First, there is a book that should be on every Alaskan genealogist’s wish list – Alaska Resources: A Guide to Historical Records and Information Resources by Connie Bradbury and David Albert Hales, published by Heritage Quest in 2001. It is currently out of print, but WorldCat shows it is in a number of U.S. libraries. Check Amazon to find one available to purchase.

Websites:

FamilySearch Alaska Wiki – Links to Alaska records and historical information

FamilySearch – Online Alaska Genealogy Records – This is likely the most comprehensive source of links.

Alaska Digital Archives

Alaska Genealogy and History

Alaska GenWeb

Alaska Historical Society

Alaska State Archives

Alaska State Library

Alaska State Library Resources

Anchorage Genealogical Society

Bureau of Land Management – Alaska

Chronicling America – long list of Alaskan newspapers

Dawson City Museum

Fairbanks Genealogical Society

Library of Congress – Alaskan resources

One Man’s Alaska – Iditarod Facts, History and Information

Project Jukebox – online database of oral histories

Sitka National Historical Park

The Sled Dog Relay That Inspired the Iditarod

Valdez Museum Historical Archive – Gold Rush Database

Yukon and Alaska Genealogy Centre

Yukon Genealogy

Hope you strike gold in your Alaska research. 🙂

One thought on “Alaska Genealogy & History Resources”

  1. Wow, your post makes me wish I had ancestors who lived or worked in Alaska. No such luck. But I have a clear memory of when Alaska joined the union and my school’s flags were changed to add the star for this new state!

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