Jackie Pels to present program

Jackie Pels will be in Seward this week to attend the Joint Annual Conference of Museums Alaska and Alaska Historical Society. She is among the dozens of speakers presenting papers during the Oct. 1-4 conference hosted by Resurrection Bay Historical Society.

Although attendance at the sessions is limited to registered conference participants, Pels knows that many people in her hometown would love to sit in and listen to speakers share their knowledge of Alaska history.

Pels is offering just such an opportunity. She will read her paper in a program starting at 7 p.m. sharp Thursday, Oct. 2 at the K.M. Rae auditorium on UAF’s Seward Marine Center campus on the corner of Third and Railway. Admission to the 30-minute program is free.

Her paper is based on the recently published book, “There’s a Freedom Here: 100 years of Living in Alaska,” by Patricia Ray Williams. Pels operates Hardscratch Press, which published the 360-page book.


Pat Williams died Sept. 18 at 104 years of age, but was able to see the book in print.

A conference abstract describes the session by Pels, who was born in Seward and grew up in a series of Alaska villages:

“The ship carrying 12-year-old Hazel Sheldon and her mother from Seattle sailed triumphantly into Resurrection Bay in autumn 1901, only to sail back out again after the captain’s conversation with the family homesteading the future site of Seward – the Centennial had been headed to Iliamna Bay. In 1908 Hazel returned as the wife of the new town’s future mayor, L.V. Ray; two years later, their infant daughter was brought home to Seward, where she has lived most of her 104 years. Patricia Ray Williams knows her beloved town indoors and out. We’ll share some unexpected stories from her new memoir.”

As owner of Hardscratch Press, Pels has edited and published more than 20 books of “real people’s history,” including her own “Unga Island Girl (Ruth’s Book);” “Any Tonnage, Any Ocean” and “Family After All, Vol. II, the story of the Jesse Lee Home at Seward.”


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