Ordinary and Extraordinary Lives of Alaskan Women, 1880-1960


These photographs of women in Alaska’s history tell a remarkable story. They tell many remarkable stories. They tell of women driving trucks, hoeing gardens, tending the sick, mushing dog teams, catching a moment’s rest, socializing with friends, skinning reindeer, exploring a remote land, wearing the latest fashions. In short, these women are doing things commonly associated with their gender roles but they are also often crossing those barriers.

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Kiana, November 1939. This portrait of Nellie Atoruk standing in front of her cabin and cache hints at winter life in northern Alaska.
[Alice Wran Photograph Album, HMC-0617]

Kenai Lake, ca. 1941-1945. “Alaska Nellie” Lawing poses for a portrait in the door of her cabin next to a few of her hunting trophies. A legend in Southcentral Alaska, Nellie came to Alaska alone at the age of 42 in 1915 and was the first woman to get a roadhouse contract from the railroad.
[Arthur O. Trosvik papers, HMC-0503]


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All photographs taken from the holdings of the
UAA/APU Consortium Library’s Archives and Special Collections Department.

Introduction :: Ordinary and Extraordinary Lives of Alaskan Women, 1880-1960

© 2005
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University of Alaska Anchorage
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