Our indexer Dee has finished describing the photos of the Grace O’Keefe Photograph Collection, which we have put online in Alaska’s Digital Archives. Here’s what she has to say:
I am woman, hear me roar.
Twelve Navy nurses. (UAF-1994-23-3, Grace O’Keefe Photograph Collection)
Girl power, all the way. I suppose this is a big reason I enjoyed indexing this collection, as I got a chance to hang out with Grace O’Keefe as a Navy nurse during her stint here in 1945, and again, in 1958, when she returned as a tourist.
As a nurse stationed in Adak during World War II, Grace took many pictures of the naval base and the land around it. My favorite shows waves splashing up onto the rocky shore, mountains peeking out across the water.
Adak shore. (UAF-1994-23-41, Grace O’Keefe Photograph Collection)
Grace also shares photos of the wildflowers and wildlife she saw while stationed here. Many other pictures taken during this time period are of social scenes, parties, and Adak outings where she’s seen smiling broadly in group shots with some of her Navy cronies. She appeared to enjoy herself while here, exploring the city and engaging in social gatherings.
View of Adak harbor. (UAF-1994-23-42, Grace O’Keefe Photograph Collection)
Her first trip to Alaska as a nurse was an assignment she had to fulfill, a job duty. Even so, she did not just work, she played; she appeared to appreciate her surroundings and partake of them. Years later, she chose to return and, this time, saw a lot more of the state from Kotzebue and Nome, to Fairbanks and Nenana, down to Juneau and the Inside Passage.
I am woman, hear me roar. Grace roared; she took the time out of her life to see things, activities, land, and people different than her own. The unusual, the uncommon: dog sledding, panning for gold, attending a festival that included the Eskimo blanket toss. She witnessed subsistence first-hand with Alaska Natives whaling and drying fish at a fish camp. She saw all these things and she roared with great life and appreciation for them.
Old Yukon River boat graveyard. (UAF-1994-23-85, Grace O’Keefe Photograph Collection)