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A Swallow Press Book

Searching for Fannie Quigley
A Wilderness Life in the Shadow of Mount McKinley

By Jane G. Haigh

2008 WILLA Literary Awards finalist

“Over the years, Haigh, author of several popular books about Alaskan history, found much of what previously had been written about Quigley to be wrong. In this work she corrects those accounts and supplements them with new information.... Students of women’s and western history will find this work useful.”

Western Historical Quarterly

“Haigh...leaves us with an appreciation of what it takes to create an accurate and well-written biography. Searching for Fannie Quigley is an excellent one.”

Alaska History

“This book is a fine example of dogged historical digging.”

Anchorage Daily News

“Without doubt, this is the definitive biography of Fannie Quigley, a quintessential Alaskan pioneer. Searching for Fannie Quigley is an important contribution to Alaskan history.”

Sally Zanjani, author of Goldfield: The Last Gold Rush on the Western Frontier

At the age of 27, Fannie Sedlacek left her Bohemian homestead in Nebraska to join the gold rush to the Klondike. From the Klondike to the Tanana, Fannie continued north, finally settling in Katishna near Mount McKinley. This woman, later known as Fannie Quigley, became a prospector who staked her own claims and a cook who ran a roadhouse. She hunted and trapped and thrived for nearly forty years in an environment that others found unbearable.

Her wilderness lifestyle inspired many of those who met her to record their impressions of this self-sufficient woman, who died in 1944. To many of the 700,000 annual visitors to Denali National Park she is a symbol of the enduring spirit of the original pioneers.

Searching for Fannie Quigley: A Wilderness Life in the Shadow of Mount McKinley goes beyond the mere biographical facts of this unique woman’s journey. It also tells historian Jane G. Haigh’s own story of tracking and tracing the many paths that Fannie Quigley’s intriguing life took. Uncovering remote clues, digging through archives, and listening to oral accounts from a wide array of sources, Haigh has fashioned this rich lode into a compelling narrative.

In Searching for Fannie Quigley, Haigh separates fact from fiction to reveal the true story of this highly mythologized pioneer woman.

Jane G. Haigh began her career as a local historian in Fairbanks, Alaska, which she continues to call home. She is the author of a number of books of popular Alaskan history, including Gold Rush Women, Gold Rush Dogs, and King Con: The Story of Soapy Smith.   More info →

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Retail price: $19.95, T.
Release date: June 2007
224 pages · 7 × 10 in.
Rights:  World


Additional Praise for Searching for Fannie Quigley

“Quigley, an uneducated, earthy ex-Nebraskan who embodied to many the very definition of an Alaska pioneer, was a longtime resident of Kantishna, an isolated mining district just outside Mount McKinley National Park. In spite of that isolation—or perhaps because of it—Quigley attained legendary status well before her 1944 death. Haigh, who is well aware of Quigley's mythic status, has done a masterful job of teasing out the woman from the myth. Haigh's biography sheds new light on life in a pioneer Alaska mining district, on the role of women on the frontier, and on the personal qualities that made Quigley unforgettable. Searching for Fannie Quigley is one of the best pioneer biographies to emerge in recent years.”

Frank B. Norris, author of Legacy of the Gold Rush

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