Friday, January 22, 2016

New resource for Alaska territorial vital records

After three years, thousands of hours, and millions of images, the Alaska territorial vital records are now available online through a partnership between the Alaska State Archives and FamilySearch.org.

The Alaska, Vital Records, 1816-1959 collection includes birth, marriage, death, and probate records from Alaska's territorial days. If you've ever used Ancestry.com, then you'll be comfortable searching for your Alaskan ancestor, limiting the type of records you want, and viewing images of the original records.

To try it out, I searched for Andrew Kashevaroff, first curator and librarian of the Alaska Territorial Museum and Library. I found his death certificate from April 3, 1940. The search tool is user-friendly, and I can find this result even if I search for variants on his name like "Kashevarof" or "Kashevarov".
A portion of Andrew Petrovich Kashevaroff's death certificate.
This record alone would be a huge find for a genealogist. It includes a wealth of information, including his birthplace, his parents' names and birthplaces, his occupation, place and cause of death, place and date of burial, and names of his living children and other relatives.

I noticed that Kashevaroff was buried in Juneau, which took me to the Evergreen Cemetery map. Searching it showed where Kashevaroff is buried in the cemetery, but there was a discrepancy between the death record and the cemetery record. The death record says he died on April 3, and the cemetery website says he died on April 6.
Using the Evergreen Cemetery map, I could easily find Kashevaroff's grave to see what's actually printed on the headstone.

The headstone of Kashevaroff's grave shows that he died on April 3, 1940, not April 6. One possible explanation is that the cemetery recorded the burial date, since that would have been when his body came to the cemetery. This slight discrepancy highlights the importance of primary source material like the vital records from the Alaska State Archives.
Next, I looked for Kashevaroff's obituary in the Daily Alaska Empire newspaper microfilm for early April 1940. This was published in the April 3 issue.
Clicking on this image will open a larger image.
As any genealogist or researcher knows, the research process can be long and winding, branching out in many directions and doubling back. I'm thrilled that in the past three months, we've gained three incredible tools, including the Evergreen Cemetery map and Betty Miller's Vital Records that make Juneau history research easier. If you'd like guidance on using any of these resources, we're happy to help.

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