6831 Viburnum Drive
Anchorage, AK 99507
Cellular (907) 230-7903
Review by Michael Leppert
Phyllis Downing Carlson was an award-winning Alaskan historian who chronicled this mysterious and romantic region’s past throughout her lifetime. Her niece, Laurel Downing Bill, inherited Phyllis’ (Aunt Phil) notes, clippings and other source materials in 1993, at her passing. Aunt Phil’s work was of the highest quality and Laurel set herself the task of bringing all of Phyllis’ history to the rest of us! To accomplish this, she returned to college and ultimately graduated with honors and a degree in journalism and minor in history.
If your children enjoy the Unit Study approach, Aunt Phil’s Trunk makes the perfect hub for teaching a curriculum about Alaska. Its Native American cultures, proximity to Russia, Midnight Sun phenomenon, Gold Fever period and much more rich historical and cultural data, lends itself to a Unit Study of many months and Laurel Downing Bill has created the source material you need in these volumes!
The series Aunt Phil’s Trunk consists of 5 volumes of fascinating short stories, photos and illustrations:
Vol 1 – up to 1900 – from the arrival of Native peoples to the Gold Rush of 1898
Vol 2 – 1900 to 1912 – Crooks and con men, Wyatt Earp’s bar to the largest volcanic eruption in US History
Vol 3 – 1912 to 1935 – Building of the Alaska Railroad to Will Rogers’ death in a plane crash
Vol 4 – 1935 to 1960 – WWII Japanese bombing of two Aleutian islands to Eskimos volunteering to guard the coast
Vol 5 – 1960 to 1984 – Highlights of statehood in 1960 to the 1964 massive earthquake and tsunamis and much more!
There is also a volume of Alaska Trivia and puzzles – what is the weight of the largest gold nugget found in Alaska? What glacier is larger than Rhode Island? The series of Aunt Phil’s Trunk makes the perfect Unit Study for homeschoolers.
To top off all of this Alaska culture, Laurel has written a Sourdough Cookery book, featuring recipes from Alaska’s traditions. She offers the recipes as “heart healthy” using substitutes for eggs, sugar and sodium – but also includes the “real” ingredients and amounts for those who prefer the full-on flavor experience! A few of the items are Cranberry-Chocolate Cake, White Chocolate Cherry Muffins and Apple Pumpkin Bread. And, as a bonus, while supplies last, with each autographed copy of the Sourdough Cookery from Laurel, she will include a packet of dried sourdough starter that began in 1896 in Hope, Alaska! Visit Laurel’s website today and explore this vast and mysterious region for yourself! MjL