From the founding of Russian America in 174l, sporadic, informal attempts were made to Christianize the Natives. In 1794, 200 years ago, the Russian Orthodox Church established its first mission in North America, at Kodiak Island in southeastern Alaska. and, in 1799, appointed the first American Bishop. By 1808 the capital was moved to Novoarkhangelsk (Sitka), where in 1848 the Cathedral of St. Michael was built, the seat of the Bishop of Kamchatka, the Kurile and Aleutian Islands, and Alaska -- a vast expanse stretching over 2,000 miles. This "Golden Age" of the Orthodox Church in Alaska ended with the sale of Alaska to the United States in 1867.
The story of the many remarkable priests and monks who served the Church in Alaska, recounted in a number of valuable journals in the Church Archives, is one of incredible achievements against often overwhelming odds. They contended daily with bitter cold and deep snows, traveling by dogsled to attend their widely dispersed parishes. The constant lack of essential resources led them to sell candles and books, and to sometimes sacrifice their own salaries to meet parish expenses. Not the least troublesome was the gnawing competition from shamans for the souls of the Natives, exacerbated by the need for Natives to abandon church and school for long periods in order to survive -- by hunting and fishing. Despite the sale of Alaska to the United States, and the incursion of other sectarian groups, Catholic and Protestant, the Russian Orthodox priests continued their mission, leaving an indelible mark upon the culture of the Native Alaskans, visible even today.
Manuscript letter. Archpastoral letter to the pastors and parishoners of the Aleut Diocese on the occasion of the centennial anniversary of the founding of the Orthodox Mission in North America, September 25, 1894, p.1. D34, Alaskan Russian Church Archives, Manuscript Division (17)
Photocopy of a computer-generated map. [Map of the area from Kamchatka, the Kurile and Aleutian Islands, to Alaska, showing principal sites of activity of the Russian Orthodox Church and its priests and of the Russian American Company.] Geography and Map Division (17a)
Wash drawing. Plan and facade for the construction of a wooden church in Novoarkhangelsk for the Kolosh [Tlingits], April 28, 1846. Oversize 5/12 Sitka, Alaskan Russian Church Archives, Manuscript Division (18)
Copyprint photograph. [St. Michael's Cathedral, Novoarkhangelsk [Sitka], ca. 1895. Geographic File, Alaska, Prints and Photographs Division (19)
Photograph copyprint. Facade Greek Church [St. Michael's Cathedral], Sitka [Novoarkhangelsk], Alaska. 1895. Prints and Photographs Division (20)
Copyprint photograph. Interior Greek Church [St. Michael's Cathedral], Sitka [Novoarkhangelsk], Alaska. Alaska: Winter & Pond, 1895. Geographic File, Alaska, Prints and Photographs Division (21)
Pencil and wash drawing. [Iconostasis for St. Michael's Cathedral in Novoarkangelsk], 1847. Oversize 5/13, Alaskan Russian Church Archives, Manuscript Division (22)
Silkscreen image from a photostat of a measured drawing, silhouetted. South elevation, St. Michael's Cathedral, Sitka [Novoarkhangelsk], Alaska. HABS Collection, Prints and Photographs Division (23)
Holograph document. His Eminence, the Bishop [Innokentii], gracious sir and Archpastor, from the colonial governor, December 23, 1844, p.1. D220, Alaska Russian Church Archives (24)
Photograph. Father Iakov Netsvetov. From a mural in the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Nicholas, Washington, D. C. Interpretive Programs Office (25a)
Printed decree. By the Grace of God, Mikhail, Humble Archbishop of Irkutsk, Nerchinsk, and Iakutsk Terr., March 4, 1828. B22, Alaskan Russian Church Archives, Manuscript Division (25b)
Manuscript decree. By the Grace of God, Mikhail, Humble Archbishop of Irkutsk, Nerchinsk, and Iakutsk Terr., April 11, 1828. D34, Alaskan Russian Church Archives, Manuscript Division (26)
Manuscript document. Account of salary payments and listing of sums for Atka St. Nicholas Church for 1844, pp.2,3. D36, Alaskan Russian Church Archives, Manuscript Division (27)
Copyprint photograph. [Alaskan Dogsled]. W. S. Kolleck and T. W. Cooper, 1911. Geographic File, Alaska, Prints and Photographs Division (28)
Copyprint photograph, die cut. Eskimo Methodist Episcopal Church, Nome, Alaska, 1916. Carpenter Collection, Prints and Photographs Division (29)
Printed and inscribed passport for the Reverend Tikhon Shalamov. By the Grace of God, we Alexander the Third, Emperor and Autocrat of All Russia, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, September 27, 1893, pp.l,4. B30, Alaskan Russian Church Archives, Manuscript Division (30)
Holograph letter. Letter to his Eminence the most reverend Innokentii, the Bishop of Alaska and most gracious Archpastor and Father, from the pastor of the Kwikpak Mission, Archmonk Amfilokhii, a most humble report, August 4, 1905, p. 1. D221, Alaskan Russian Church Archives, Manuscript Division (31)
Holograph day book. Journal of service on behalf of the Church for 1910, by the monk Amfilokhii, for 1910-1911, pp. 46-47. D242, Alaskan Russian Church Archives (32)
Holograph diary. Photographs of a Christmas tree (above) and a choir. In, Unalaska Days: August 7, 1910 - August 7, 1912; A Diary, by Clara Ellen Davenport, p. 3. Papers of Noah Cleveland Davenport, Manuscript Division (32a)
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