PIONEERS of ALASKA
Pioneers of Alaska was organized as the first “Igloo” in Nome, Alaska in February 1907. Candle’s Igloo #2 was formed in June 1907 followed by Igloo # 3 at St. Michael. In 1908 they established the “Grand Igloo, Pioneers of Alaska” to unite Alaskan Pioneers through a permanent organization”. The stated object was to “preserve the names of all Alaska’s pioneers on its rolls; to collect and preserve the literature and incidents of Alaska’s history and to promote the best interest of Alaska.”
Fairbanks area men organized in 1909. In addition to helping care for some physical needs of fellow Northerners, the groups offered moral support as well. Sometimes food, housing, or medical assistance were provided. They banded together to overcome natural disasters such as floods, fires, illness or lack of supplies. Pioneers helped bury the dead and notify relatives or friends in distant homelands. The early membership application forms included physical description (color of hair and eyes, height, weight, etc.) which helped identify those who died on the trail on alone in a remote cabin.
Initially, membership was limited to men who had established residency prior to 1900. In 1912, Women’s Igloos were created with the same rigid requirements. Present day requirement for membership is that you must have lived in Alaska 30 years or longer. The application no longer requires physical characteristics but does include birth and marriage dates and information on relatives. Since 1992, members have been asked to fill “Generation forms”, listing all family members who lived in Alaska, ancestors and descendants.
The Pioneers archives are also kept in Fairbanks with the Grand Igloo Recorder residing in Fairbanks. Request for any deceased Pioneer may be directed to: Women's Igloo #8, PO box 70656, Fairbanks, AK 99707-0656.