Alaska genealogy researchers celebrate an important milestone. It’s the 150th anniversary of the Alaska Purchase. This special commemoration includes a photography exhibit, musical program, and much more. Keep reading to learn more about resources for Alaska genealogy.
The National Archives is celebrating the sesquicentennial (150 years) of the Alaska Purchase with a special Hidden Treasure Alaska panoramic photography exhibit at the National Archives at College Park. It will also include a presentation by the exhibit curator, a musical program at the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC, and a loan to Polar Bear Garden exhibit at the Anchorage Museum. The National Archives programs and exhibit are free and open to the public.
The Musical Program
The musical program will be held on Thursday, March 30, at 7:30 p.m. at William G. McGowan Theater, Washington, DC. On March 30, 1867, U.S. Secretary of State, William Henry Seward, signed the Alaska Treaty of Cession that purchased Russian America. To commemorate the life and contributions of Seward, the State of Alaska is sponsoring a performance of the Alaska chamber group, Wild Shore New Music. Wild Shore will perform the work of living composers who have found inspiration through their experiences with the natural beauty and indigenous cultures of Alaska. Reservations are recommended and can be made online.
The Hidden Treasure exhibit will be at the National Archives at College Park, MD, on the lower level. Hidden Treasure dramatically captures the beauty of Alaska, as captured on film by U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) topographers from 1910-1932. These extraordinary images of more than 6,000 panoramic photographs from the collection were used, but then stored and remained unseen for decades. Thanks to the research, work, and photographic skill of National Archives expert Richard Schneider, these images can now be seen by the public in their original panoramic format for the first time. These images capture work-life in the Alaskan wilderness, surveying techniques, towns, and geological formations, such as the Columbia Glacier. See Richard Schneider’s related Prologue Magazine story: The Alaskan Frontier in Panorama – How the National Archives Preserved Early 20th-Century Photographs.
Schneider will discuss these historic panoramic photographs of the Alaska Territory in his presentation on Wednesday, April 12th at 2 p.m. EST. You may see it live streamed at the William G. McGowan Theater & YouTube.
Polar Bear Garden
Beginning March 3rd through September 17, 2017, The Polar Bear Garden exhibit will be on display at the Anchorage Museum in Anchorage, Alaska.
Archival and contemporary photographs combined with nesting dolls, cartoons, feature-length films, and Cold War propaganda will take viewers on a journey between Alaska and Russia since the purchase. It will further explore stereotypes, language, storytelling, boundaries, and crossings. The exhibit highlights are on rare loan from the National Archives and include the original cancelled check and President Andrew Johnson’s Ratification of the Treaty. More information about the Polar Bear Garden can be found online.
Your Alaskan heritage will likely include stories of great strength and perseverance. To begin your Alaska genealogy research, you may wish to review the FamilySearch Wiki article titled Alaska, United States Genealogy. In it, you will learn important tips like the fact that Alaska is not divided into counties, as nearly all the other states are. Instead, Alaska is divided into boroughs.
There is also a free guide on the wiki titled Step-by-Step Alaska Research, 1880-Presentthat you may particularly helpful. Among other things, it will help you located birth, marriage, and death records; wills and probates; and naturalization and immigration records.
Marriage record found online at FamilySearch.org in collection titled “Alaska, Vital Records, 1816-1959”
Additionally, the Alaska State Archives have resources available. They hold many records that contain information on individuals such as:
Lastly, check out the Alaska Genealogy online guide provided by the Alaska State Library. This basic guide of Alaska related genealogy resources is not intended to be comprehensive, but it is certainly a step in the right direction. Sources for several of the boroughs may be available in other Alaska libraries or through interlibrary loan at your local library. They include:
The Alaska State Research Guide Digital Download by Family Tree Magazine is a digital download you will want to have for your genealogy library. Trace your Alaska ancestors with the advice and resources in this four-page download. It includes:
a how-to article detailing Alaska history and records, with helpful advice on tracking your family there
the best websites, books and other resources for Alaska research, handpicked by our editors and experts
listings of key libraries, archives and organizations that hold the records you need
descriptions of the top historic sites for learning about your ancestors’ lives and times, including visitor information
timeline of key events in the state’s history
full-color map to put your research in geographical context
Here’s an inspiring example of a quick and easy way to tell your story. Every one of us is deeply connected to history through our family stories. In fact, exploring your family history story can help you learn more about your place in history and what makes you, you.
Tell Your Family History Story with Animoto
Were you one of those kids sitting in history class bored to tears? Was the common teenage mantra “what’s this got to do with me?” running through your brain? While the teacher’s lecture may have seemed disconnected, nothing could have been further from the truth. Every one of us is deeply connected to history through our family stories. In fact, exploring your family history story can help you learn more about your place in history and what makes you, you.
(Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Thank you for supporting the Genealogy Gems blog!)
We all have a story to tell about our place in history and Animoto is an easy and powerful way to tell that family history story. I’ve been sharing my thoughts on creating family history stories on my Genealogy Gems Podcast and in videos on my Genealogy Gems YouTube channel. One of my listeners and viewers, Doug Shirton, has enthusiastically embraced the idea of video storytelling and recently shared his video with me.
I love the elements that Doug wove into his video. Not only did he include individual photographs of himself and his ancestors, but he also dragged and dropped into his Animoto timeline a full page family tree chart. Doug used the “Rustic” video style (one of my favorites) which is perfectly suited for his old-timey photos.
He also used music in an innovative way to tell his family history story. Rather than settling on just one song, he used portions of multiple tracks. This technique moves the viewer through the emotional levels he was striving to convey.
Adding Music to Your Family History Story
All great movies have a soundtrack! Animoto allows you to choose from their music library or add your own. Adding music to your family history video is very simple. To add additional songs, simply click the plus sign under the timeline. Animoto’s “edit song and pacing” feature makes it easy to get everything to fit perfectly.
MUSIC SEARCH TIP: In addition to being able to upload your own songs, Animoto’s robust music library is brimming with songs that will help you hit just the right note. In addition to the filter boxes, don’t miss the handy search field at the very bottom of the list of filters. Enter a keyword to suit your mood and then scroll back up to the top of the page to pick from the results.
Choosing the Focus of Your Family History Story
Family trees are very far-reaching indeed. So many direct line and collateral lines, often spanning the globe. Doug was wise to select one family history story within his tree: his Ontario, Canada pioneer ancestors.
Focusing on a particular line of your family, or a single story makes creating your video more manageable for you and, frankly, more enjoyable to watch for your viewer. Keeping your video fairly short is also a good idea. Doug’s is just 4 minutes and I recommend going no longer than five. This is particularly important when you plan to share it on social media where attention-spans are short.
Family History Story Ideas
Here are a few ideas of stories you could explore:
The story of your most recent immigrant ancestor
A family history story that runs through your family tree, such as three generations of musicians
How one of your ancestral families survived a natural disaster like the Johnston Flood or the Great San Francisco Earthquake
The history of a first name that was used over multiple generations in your family
The idea here is to select a family history story that is short, thematic, and compelling to watch.
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!
Looking for last-minute holiday heritage craft inspiration for over the holidays? Here’s a round-up of some of my favorite heritage and holiday crafts made by myself and Gems listeners. Make a gift for yourself or someone you love!
8 Last Minute Holiday Heritage Gift and Craft Ideas
1. Heritage Christmas Stocking
Watch this 2-part video series on my YouTube channel about how I created a homemade stocking that celebrates all the moms who came before me. It’s a crazy quilt design with embroidery and photos I transferred to fabric. Here’s a handout with instructions.
Christmas Heritage Stocking by Lisa Louise Cooke
2 – 4. Heritage-themed jewelry (3 ideas!)
There are SO many wonderful ways to wear our family history. Click below to see examples and instructions for each of these three ideas:
A picture frame ornament has black and white photos inserted in the openings of small wooden craft frames. The frames are painted frames silver and hung with simple metallic twine.
The gorgeous ornament shown here, made by professional genealogist Amy Urman, was featured in Genealogy Gems Premium podcast episode 15 (Premium website membership required to access–but you can look at it here for free!). Amy takes old glass and crystal and scrapbooking paper and solder and creates these one-of-a-kind holiday tributes to her ancestors.
7. Heritage Calendar
Ring in the new year by making a calendar packed with family photos and even birthdays, anniversaries or other family celebrations. This was another great idea sent in by one of our listeners!
8. Holiday Heritage Wreath
You can make a family history-themed wreath with tiny photos of loved ones intertwined in the branches, so that the faces of your loved ones can be part of your holiday celebrations. Click on the link above to see inspiring photos and find a link to a 4-part video tutorial.
More Holiday Heritage Craft Ideas from Genealogy Gems
Boost your Google search skills with this free video class on Google for genealogy, presented at RootsTech 2016 by Google expert Lisa Louise Cooke.
“Everyone should be using Google to search for their family history!” That’s Lisa Louise Cooke’s mantra. Google reaches deep into so many different kinds of content on the internet. Google search tools help us discover ancestors’ names mentioned online; locate records we need; and discover historical details, images and maps that help us better understand their lives. And Google is FREE.
But Google works best when you follow a well-executed search methodology, just like in other aspects of genealogy research. At RootsTech 2016, Lisa taught a powerful and popular Google search for genealogy methodology class to a packed audience in a session that live-streamed around the world. Watch her dynamic, informative class below for free. Kim wrote in to say that the class “was the best one I’ve seen thru the free streaming [RootsTech]….Thanks for sharing free content with those of us who can’t afford to spend any money on genealogy.”
This class content comes from Lisa’s book, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox (2nd edition). In it you’ll find all you need to know to take your hit-and-miss online searches to a powerful, proven search methodology for finding your ancestors online–and everything else you’re looking for! There are step-by-step instructions, screenshots and powerful examples for topics such as basic and advanced Google searching, Google Books, Google Earth, Google Scholar, Google Alerts, Google Translate and even YouTube.
More Google for Genealogy Gems
Keep learning from Lisa! Click below to read more proven Google search methodologies for genealogy.