Diaries of Early Missionaries to Alaska Now Available Online

CHICAGO, IL (September 4, 2014) — Anyone interested in the Covenant’s early history in Alaska can now access online the English- and Swedish-language diaries and logbooks kept by the denomination’s missionaries between 1893 to 1915.

The writings are the latest addition to digital documents available through the F. M. Johnson Archives and Special Collections at North Park University, says interim director Anna-Kajsa Anderson. Some of the Swedish-language documents have been translated into English.

The Covenant’s mission work began in Alaska in 1889 through Axel E. Karlson, whose diaries are part of the collection. The mission work began just four years after the denomination was founded in 1885.

“These journals provide a glimpse into the life and work of early missionaries, particularly those in Unalakleet and Golovin Bay,” said Anderson.

Curtis Ivanoff, field director for the Evangelical Covenant Church of Alaska, said he had never seen the documents and was thrilled that they are now available. “This is like saying, ‘Here is a bag of gold, it can be found at the following link….’!”





  • My parents, Helge and Joyce Hamilton, also served at Yakutat. I believe their term was 1949 to 1954 including one furlough. I was born in the mission house in Yakutat. Our family left Alaska to serve the Covenant Mountain Mission in Jonesville, Virginia from 1954 to 1964.

  • “Returning” to Unalakleet and other other “Covenant villages” via the Frisk Collection was a marvelous experience. Standing before Missionary Axel Karlson’s monument near the shore of the Bering Sea during the summer of 1971 and reading the inscription “When he came there were no Christians-When he left there were no heathens” telling a story of hardship and hope will never be forgotten! Many thanks to archivist Anna-Kaisja Anderson and the commitment of NPU and the ECC to invest in life-changing, accessible history.

  • Please be careful to remember the mission in Yakutat that was served by
    Albin Johnson. Jenny Olson Rasmuson arrived in 1901, and Edward Anton Rasmuson in 1904
    Elof Martin Axelson and Nellie Axelson served 1911-1941 in Yakutat with only one break to return to Chicago for a furlough. EB Larson was the interim missionary. During that time, they were offered the opportunity to go to Unalakleet and start the mission there, however the sons prevailed and they returned to “home” at Yakutat. Elof’s obituary says they remained there until 1943 when they retired. As you know, the mission station was eventually traded with the Presbyterian denomination, and neither of the missions flourished with the transition.

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