About Us

The Cook Inlet Historical Society (CIHS) is the private, non-profit historical society for the Anchorage area, and has been instrumental since its founding in 1955 in fostering discussion, research and publication of the history and ethnography of the Anchorage and Cook Inlet regions of Alaska as well as our state and its place in the Circumpolar North.  In that regard, CIHS was the principal organization responsible for the establishment of the Anchorage Museum in 1968.

CIHS is the prime sponsor of Legends & Legacies, a project initiated by the late John Bagoy, long time member of the Society, which features the people who lived and settled in Anchorage in the early 20th century.  This presentation is not a treatise on the history of Anchorage, nor a collection of self-told stories, escapades and personal accomplishments by Anchorage residents.  Instead, it is biographies of people who lived in Anchorage for an extended period of time during Alaska’s formative years.  They were from all walks of life:  old timers and immigrants, Natives and non-Natives, crusty sourdoughs, and brash newcomers.  Whoever they were, each made an important contribution to the founding and prosperity of our vibrant and diverse community.  This project is intended to celebrate them and their accomplishments.

The Legends & Legacies project was updated and expanded as part of the Society’s contribution to the Anchorage Centennial, 2014-2015.  This could not have been accomplished without the generous and continuing support of the Rasmuson Foundation, Atwood Foundation, and the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center.  We will continue to update this site with new information over time, and we encourage your suggestions or corrections (use the “Contact Us”  link) as the database expands to include the full range of people who helped give Anchorage its start and made it the community we know today.  In this way, our database will tell an even more complete and robust story of the hardy individuals and families who lived here or put down their roots, built their homes and worked together to establish and build Alaska’s largest community.

Legends & Legacies Project (2012-2016)

Except in a few instances, the biographical entries on the Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940, website were written by archivists, historians, librarians, and museum curators under contract with CIHS, or by CIHS Board members and volunteers.  Many of the subjects of these entries were originally listed and described in John P. Bagoy’s Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935 (Anchorage:  Publications Consultants, 2001).  In 2012-2013, Mina Jacobs, former Assistant Archivist at the Anchorage Museum, performed initial work by posting 110 of the 175 entries on the Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935, website.

As part of the Municipality of Anchorage’s Anchorage Centennial Celebration (2014-2015), CIHS obtained generous grant support from the Atwood Foundation, Rasmuson Foundation, and major support from the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center to expand this project.  In addition, CIHS used privately donated funds from its Bagoy Memorial Cemetery Fund in support of this project. The contractors were Bruce Parham, former Archivist and Director, National Archives at Anchorage, and Walter Van Horn, former Collections Registrar at the Anchorage Museum.  Under the direction of Bruce Parham, research was undertaken on all 175 biographical entries and accompanying photographs for historical and factual accuracy, with editing, and expansion of many entries.  Full source endnotes were added.  The project's staff owe many thanks to the following professionals for their assistance:  Douglas McAllister, Alaska Bibliographer, and staff of the Alaska Collection, Z.J. Loussac Library, Anchorage Public Library; Sara Piasecki, Zane Treesh, and Teressa Williams of the Atwood Resource Center, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center; and Arlene Schmuland, Veronica Denison, and Gwen Siega of the Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage.  Other institutions who contributed staff and time were the Wells Fargo Heritage Library & Museum, Anchorage; Alaska & Polar Regions Collections & Archives, Elmer E. Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks; Alaska State Archives, Juneau; and the National Archives at Seattle, Seattle, WA.  Whenever possible, the contractors endeavored to maintain the spirit of  John P. Bagoy, whom we regard as the guiding light of this project.