Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Exploring Juneau's Evergreen Cemetery

We help people from around the world find information about their Alaskan ancestors, so we're always looking for tools for genealogy searches. One new resource that we're really excited about is the Evergreen Cemetery digital map.
A frosty morning at Evergreen Cemetery. Many of the headstones have sunk into the ground and are difficult to decipher.

Evergreen Cemetery is the final resting place of 8,000 Juneau residents, including notables like founders Richard Harris and Joe Juneau, civil rights activist Elizabeth Peratrovich, baker China Joe, and photographers Lloyd Winter and Percy Pond. Until now, finding a grave in Evergreen Cemetery meant wandering around the grassy hillside, hoping that the grave you were looking for actually had a headstone. I recently spent the better part of an hour squinting at the old 1986 cemetery survey, trying to help a patron find the grave of one of Juneau's first pharmacists, William Britt, and wishing for a resource like the Evergreen Cemetery digital map.

The new map allows you to type in a name and view the grave's location, as well as surrounding graves and other landmarks to help you find it in the cemetery. Although some of the names are still being reviewed, the majority are easily searchable by first or last name. The software includes a feature to show photos of the grave, the person, and the funeral record. Although these images are not currently available, they may be added in the future. Some images are available on findagrave.com, a crowd-sourced headstone photo website.
Screenshot from the Evergreen Cemetery online map
The site of Elizabeth Peratrovich's grave in Evergreen Cemetery. The colored zones show the different sections of the cemetery.

We're happy to add this resource to our genealogy toolkit and hope it helps genealogists fill in pieces of their family trees!

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Friday, November 6, 2015

Women Veterans Day in Alaska

Although November 11 is the Veterans Day that many Alaskans will have off next week, November 9 is Women Veterans Day in Alaska, by order of Alaska Statute 44.12.078. Established in 2000, Women Veterans Day was created to "acknowledge and commemorate the sacrifices endured and valor displayed by American women veterans and to recognize their increasing role in the military."

Even before Alaska was a state, women were serving in the United States military. From 1942 to 1944, more than a thousand women served as Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), playing an important role testing aircraft and ferrying planes and supplies to bases around the country, including in Alaska. When the WASPs were recognized for their service with a Congressional Gold Medal in 2010, three Alaska women veterans were among them: Ellen Campbell of Juneau and Virginia Wood and Nancy Baker of Fairbanks.
Congressional Gold Medal ceremony in honor of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, March 10, 2010. Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony by Nancy Pelosi, CC BY

Today, Alaska is the U.S. state with the highest concentration of women veterans in its population (Source: U.S. Department of Labor). There are more than 11,000 women veterans living in Alaska (Source: U.S. Department of Labor). Nearly half of Alaskan vets of both genders served in the Gulf War era and 17% of Alaska's veterans are 20-34 years old (Source: Washington Post). Young women in the military are changing the face of Alaska's veteran population.
Pictured from left to right: Brig. Gen. Deborah McManus, Capt. Allison Snow, Staff Sgt. Christina Cordes, Capt. Laura Grossman, and Maj. Krista Staff. Alaska Guard forms first all-female aircrew by The National Guard.

This Women Veterans Day, we thank Alaska's women veterans for their service and recognize their essential contributions to Alaskan and U.S. military history.

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