A Schoolteacher in Old Alaska: The Story of Hannah Breece
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2000
Subtitled, 'The Story of Hannah Breece', Jacobs has gathered her aunt's journals and diaries, as well as US government data relating to Alaska during the years 1904-1917 and has written a fascinating history. Hannah Breece served as a US government funded public school teacher in a number of remote sites in the then newly admitted state of Alaska. Her students were Aleuts, Eskimos, Russians, and children of other more obscure nationalities and ethnicities. Although Breece tells her own story in a less passionate, emotional voice, the story itself, is a powerful one. This is a biography of a single woman in her forties and fifties, thousands of miles from her family in Pennsylvania, teaching native peoples, not only English and math and science, but gardening, sewing, cooking, and a variety of other more domestic skills. Her tales of the extreme weather, the isolation, the conflicts and discrimination between the different ethnic groups, and of her travel, which took place from the Kodiak Islands, to Wrangell, to Fort Yukon, are astonishing and provide an illuminating glimpse of life in a different time, and in a far-away place. In the last quarter of the book the author, Breece's niece, brings together some of the historical data that Breece leaves unmentioned in her journals. We learn more about the US government constraints, policies, and employees all functioning or not at the time.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2001
An excellent story with plenty of meat. Hannah Breece is a woman both of her time and ahead of her time. This book, although covering the early 1900's, really tells of a time when the balance and control of Alaska was switching from Russian influenced culture to American influenced culture. It is interesting to see that what was "correct" then is now "incorrect" and reminds the reader that values and judgements are culturally bound.
The action of the book takes place over most of the major regions of the state including the gulf coast, the interior and the southeast.
Jane Jacobs the editor did an excellent job of organizing and illuminating Hannah Breece's story. Without her careful introductions the story would have not had quite the same postive impact.
This book is largely alone in covering the topic of teaching in the early 1900's. For those of you interested in the early history of teaching in English in Alaska then this is your book.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 1998
Hannah's story pictures a woman, no longer young, but wonderfully energetic, enthusiastic about her work as a teacher in a remote and frigid land. Her ingenuity in teaching methods, survival techniques, and inspiring the love and respect of her students and their parents is matchless. Seldom has anyone accomplished so much with so little. An excellent book--an excellent woman who compares quite favorably with two other "amazons"--Eleanor Roosevelt and Isak Dineson who were more or less contemporaries.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2001
A factual memoir that relays much interesting Alaskan history through description of a school teacher's experience in small,remote villages at the turn of the last century(1904). Hannah Breece's motivation is inspirational;the day to day survival and travel challenges are thrillingly refreshing (try to imagine complaining about the hardships of your suburban day after the tales of adversities thanks to very humbling terrain, wildlife and US bureaucracy);the maps, photos, and profiles of the different types of Alaskan people are historic and truly educational.This book was great ...don't miss the forward, the puzzles, and the epilogue!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2004
I fell in love with Alaska as described by Hannah Breece. She told an amazing story of a time that is long gone. She also showed great restraint in not "telling tales" on those who were her contemporaries. Her niece, Jane Jacobs, who compiled and edited her memoirs, fills in the "gaps," after Miss Breece's personal story is complete. I recommend this book to lovers of history, Alaskan history, early American history, education history and those with a romantic notion of how the "good old days," really were.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
In 1904, Hannah Breece (1859-1940), was recruited by the Department of the Interior to teach in Alaska. Alaska at that time was quite different than today. Preferring to work in poorer, more backward areas, she saw a side of Alaska that does not normally appear in the history books. This is Hannah stories, as told by her, and edited by Jane Jacobs.

This is a really great story. I found its depiction of life in 1904+ Alaska to be quite enthralling; Hannah certainly found her way into many fascinating adventures. The book shows life in 1904+ Alaska, as lived by the common people, including dealing with wild animals, sled dogs, fish famines, earthquakes, racism at many levels, and so much more.

All I can say is that Hannah Breece must have been a formidable woman. I have never said this before of a book, but I actually felt honored to be able to look in at Hannah's life. I highly recommend this book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2010
This was a great read. The mind stayed engaged in the circumstance and time of the story. This book communicated very well. It kept you involved with the people as well as the events. Can't go wrong buying this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The book is good once you get further into the story. Might be difficult for some people to hold an interest as it is not written as a story.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2010
I seem to be the fly in the ointment, but I found this book hard to read, and fairly dry. I was impressed with the power and authority teachers seemed to have in her day, but that is just about all I really retained. There were some interesting descriptions of characters, but for the most part I found it to be dated in the writing style, with a huge sense of political correctness which I do not enjoy. As for the adventure, I suppose it was very stimulating if it were happening to you. but the way the events were depicted by the writer were, for me, not able to sweep you into the event. Also, when you consider the amount of adventure available in Alaska at this period, she really had a dull time. I persevered and finished, then gave it away, and I never give books away. thanks
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2010
This book was sent in a timely manner. It was in great condition which was the way it was advertised. Good work.
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