A Woman in Alaska in the 1930s
Two years ago I was given all the boxes of the family archives from my husband’s family, and I have spent hours sorting and digitizing everything.
My favorite discovery has been a box of photos from his Aunt Millie. She was an only child, born in 1912 in Washington State, where she also spent her childhood, but sometime about 1930, her family moved to Juneau, Alaska. She left us over a thousand photographs, nicely labeled on the album sheets, but unfortunately those albums got flooded, the papers disintegrated, and most of the labels were lost. Thankfully, my mother-in-law peeled all the photos from the albums and dried them out, but they are all mixed up now. I scan and label them, and put them back in albums, trying to figure out which ones go together.
Millie loved to dress up, and she sewed her own clothes, but she definitely had a sense of adventure, and would happily suit up to go hiking or fishing. One of the places she visited a few times was the Salmon Creek Dam. She also took pictures that documented the Alaska way of life.
In the pictures below, if they had dates written on the back, I put them in the caption. A few of them were undated. You can click on any picture and see larger images in a slide show.
I met Millie a few times in the late 1970s, but I never talked to her about her life. I wish I had been able to learn her stories!
What a treasure box that has been.
Yes, in my own life I am not an advocate of keeping things like schoolwork and old letters, but my husband’s family kept all that stuff, and now that it is 90 or 100 years old, I am glad they kept it and I can see a slice of history. 🙂
Just fabulous photos – so much variety of occupation, so much interest. She must have had a very good (and therefore expensive) camera at her disposal to get such good quality images. I wonder if an Alaskan archive would be able to tell you more about the places, people and pursuits?
I think she had an ordinary camera, but I don’t know for sure. The photos are mostly only 1 and a half inches tall; I scan them at 600 dpi, and then I fix the contrast in Photoshop if I can. (Some of them have faded so much it really doesn’t matter.) My dad had photos from when he was stationed in Germany in the 1950s, and they were the same way — once you blew them up you could see great and sharp detail. But that would be something interesting to research — how much you can tell about the camera from the photo.
I know where she worked in Juneau, and where she lived — someday I would love to go back and see if those buildings are still there!