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Alaska-Yukon Pioneers Collection

Identifier: MS 263

Content Description

The items in this collection were saved by Vera Sidars, who was an officer of the Alaska Yukon Pioneers for many years. She maintained detailed ledgers, collected in a three-ring binder, of members who dropped or canceled their membership; a second binder holds ledgers of those who were deceased through 2010. Included among the ledger sheets are original applications for membership, notable for the “Brief History” section in which prospective members describe personal events and highlights of time spent living in Alaska. The collection also consists of AYP newsletters, member memoirs, rosters, correspondence, programs, a small group of photographs, and the constitution and bylaws for the Yukon Order of Pioneers, the Alaska Yukon Pioneers, the Loyal Order of the Golden North, and the Ladies of the Golden North.

This material provides valuable genealogical information through the form of membership applications, dues sheets, and obituary notices. The papers have been organized alphabetically by member. Dues sheets lacking attached obituaries and/or membership applications were accessioned as strips of just the sheet tops. These have been grouped separately and are not alphabetical. Membership applications and dues sheets include member names, dates of birth and death, occupations and whereabouts during the gold rush, and relations names.


  • 1894-2004

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is available for viewing; however, the photographs may not be photocopied.

Biographical / Historical

The origins of the Alaska Yukon Pioneers can be traced back to December 1, 1894, when the Yukon Order of Pioneers was organized at Forty Mile, Yukon Territory. The motto of the Grand Lodge, Y.O.O.P., was to “Do Unto Others as You Would be Done By.” Membership was initially limited to Caucasian men who had been in the North prior to 1897, but the requirements were later changed to include men who had “been within the water-shed of the Yukon River, prior to the first day of July, Eighteen Hundred and Ninety-nine (1899) and must be a man of truth, honor and integrity.” (1912 Constitution and By-Laws) The Order celebrated each anniversary of “Discovery Day” (August 17th) as a holiday, a tradition that continues in the Yukon to this day. It was on August 17, 1886, that George Carmack discovered gold at Bonanza Creek.

In 1899, the Arctic Brotherhood was formed on board the ship City of Seattle as she steamed for Skagway. Eleven men, discovering they were on a return trip to the North, celebrated the occasion by forming an organization of “Arctic Brothers.” When these men and others like them spread throughout Alaska, following the gold to places like Nome, Candle, Teller, and Iditarod, it wasn’t long before every northern frontier town and mining settlement had its own Arctic Brotherhood chapter. Eventually, 32 “Camps” were established; and, at the peak of popularity, they claimed to have 10,000 members. The question of who, exactly, these men were, is answered by W. T. Perkins, as quoted in the first issue of the Boston Alaskan, (August, 1906).

“Who are these men, and whence did they come --these pioneers who are building this mighty Alaskan empire? This question can be best answered by a few figures taken from the membership record of Camp Nome No. 9, of the Arctic Brotherhood, a representative camp of that unique society which joins Alaska and Yukon Territory in the bonds of a fraternal organization. What is true of Camp Nome is also true of the other camps of the order scattered throughout the territory. Of the members composing this camp, 96 were born in New England and the East, 28 in the South, 163 in the Central States, and 89 in the West –making 376 the total of those born in the United States; 32 were born in Canada, 64 in Europe, 10 in Australia, New Zealand and India –making a total of 482; of the 376 born in the United States, more than 80 are college men and 35 are members of Greek letter societies. These are the men, the best blood in the world, who are working to found a new country, are molding themselves into the highest type of bright, energetic, fearless Westerner, the typical American, in fact.”

The group Pioneers of Alaska was organized in 1907, when a number of Alaskans were denied membership in the Yukon Order of Pioneers, due to the residency requirement. The relative newcomers decided they should have their own pioneers group to represent Alaskans to Congress, to support mining programs, and to promote social and business connections among its members. The Nome Igloo was the first, and many others followed, all fraternal organizations under the banner Pioneers of Alaska. In 1908, the various groups gathered in Nome to unite Alaska’s pioneers in a permanent organization: the Grand Igloo. Quoting the organization’s constitution, its purpose is to “preserve the names of all of Alaska’s pioneers on its rolls; to collect and preserve the literature and incidents of Alaska’s history, and to promote the best interests of Alaska.”

As Alaska’s early pioneers moved out of Alaska, social organizations formed in the lower 48 to continue to preserve the records and accomplishments of the Pioneers of Alaska and the Yukon. Among the purposes for which the sister fraternal societies were formed was to “promote sociability and friendship among its members, and to manage and conduct Lodge meetings conventions, entertainments, excursions, and social meetings.” The Alaska Yukon Pioneers formed in Washington State under presiding officer A. J. Goddard. The Cabin Number One group, from whom this collection came, was formed in October, 1923, under the motto “We Blaze the Trail, Civilization Follows.” The Alaska Yukon Pioneers have held annual picnics and gatherings over the years, although their membership has dwindled from the original social clubs established as folks returned home from the gold fields.


6 Volumes (6 boxes and 1 Folder containing three X-Extra-Long Panoramas)

Language of Materials


Related Materials

Some of the original applications went to the Klondike Museum in Seattle, WA.

Processing Information

Photographs were numbered by staff and housed in Mylar; rosters, correspondence, and memoirs were filed in pH-neutral folders; newspaper articles were photocopied. The collection is described at an item level. The cut-off tops of membership dues sheets in Box 3, folder 9 have been photocopied into a PDF document.

Finding Aid for the Alaska-Yukon Pioneers Collection
In Progress
Processed by: Gayle Goedde, June 2011; Additions processed by: Sara Bornstein, January 2013, July 2014, June 2016, January 2017; ArchivesSpace Finding Aid by: Melissa Scriven, April 2019
2011 June
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Alaska State Library - Historical Collections Finding Aids Repository

PO Box 110571
Juneau AK 99811-0571 US
907-465-2151 (Fax)