Evangeline Atwood

Evangeline Atwood (1906–1987) was an American historian, activist, and philanthropist. She was the co-founder of numerous organizations in Alaska, including the Alaska Statehood Association, the Anchorage League of Voters, the Alaska World Affairs Council, Parent-Teacher Council of Anchorage, and the Cook Inlet Historical Society. In 2009, she was named to the Alaska Women's Hall of Fame.[1] Her husband was Robert Atwood and was the co-owner, alongside him, of the Anchorage Times.[2]

Evangeline Atwood
Evangeline Atwood.jpg
Maud Evangeline Rasmuson

Sitka, Alaska, United States
DiedNovember 1987
Known forAuthor of numerous works on contemporary Alaska history, namesake of the concert hall at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts
Home townSkagway and Yakutat, Alaska
Spouse(s)Robert Bruce Atwood (m. 1932)
Parent(s)Edward Anton Rasmuson (1882–1949)
Jenny (Olson) Rasmuson
RelativesElmer E. Rasmuson (brother)

Early life and workEdit

Maud "Evangeline" Rasmuson was born in 1906 in Sitka, Alaska. Her parents were Edward Anton Rasmuson and Jenny Olsen. She had one brother, Elmer. She attended the University of Washington and the University of Chicago, where she received her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts, respectively.[3] After graduation, she worked as a social worker in Springfield, Illinois.[4]

She married Robert Atwood on April 2, 1932, whom she met while working in Springfield.[4][5] They moved to Anchorage, Alaska in 1935.[2] She became a historian focusing on Alaskan history. She would write six books about the history of Alaska and its culture, including one book about James Wickersham.[3][4] She also wrote for the Anchorage Times, in which she had two columns, "Alaska Women in Politics" and "Historically Speaking." She founded the Alaska World Affairs Council. She would serve as a board member and event planner for the organization. In 1935, she gave birth to Marilyn Jeanette Atwood. In 1940, she had another daughter, Sara "Elaine" Atwood. In 1947, she and Robert bought the Anchorage Hotel.[3]

In the mid-1940s, she founded the Alaska Statehood Association, to support Ernest Gruening to gain statehood for Alaska. She became president of the organization, which had representation in ten cities in the state. The organization funded George Sundborg to produce a research study that would be used to explain to voters why they should make Alaska a state. It was used in the Alaska statehood elections of 1946, and the referendum was approved.[4]

Atwood started the Anchorage League of Voters in 1950. Atwood stored the majority of her documents and papers at home, including documents related to her work at the Anchorage Times. The majority of her papers and the family archives were destroyed during the 1964 Alaska earthquake.[3]

Later life and legacyEdit

She was named Alaskan of the Year in 1981.[3] Atwood died in November 1987.[5]

A manuscript about the history of Alaska's newspapers was started by Atwood, and completed by journalist Lew M. Williams, Jr., upon her death.[2] In 2009, Atwood was inaugurated into the Alaska Women's Hall of Fame.[1] The Anchorage Museum named the Bob and Evangeline Atwood Alaska Resource Center after her and her husband.[6] The Atwood family papers are held in the collection of the University of Alaska Anchorage.[3] The Atwood Concert Hall at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts is named after Atwood.[7] The Alaska Historical Society awards the Evangeline Atwood Award for excellence in Alaska history.[5]

Further readingEdit

  • Atwood, Evangeline and Robert N. DeArmond. Who's Who in Alaska Politics. 1977.[3]


  1. ^ a b Pamela. "Evangeline Atwood". Hall of Fame. Alaska Women's Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "Evangeline Atwood and Lew M. Williams, Jr. "Bent Pins to Chains: Alaska and its Newspapers"". Historical Manuscripts Collection List. Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Atwood family papers". Archives and Special Collections. Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d Claus M. Naske (1 March 2009). 49 at Last: The Fight for Alaska Statehood. Epicenter Press. p. 95. ISBN 978-1-935347-02-6.
  5. ^ a b c Brown, Tricia. "Robert Bruce Atwood – 1907–1997". Digital Archives. University of Alaska Anchorage. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  6. ^ "Archives & Collections". Research. Anchorage Museum. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  7. ^ "Atwood Concert Hall". About. Alaska Center for the Performing Arts. Retrieved 27 October 2013.

External linksEdit