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Annie Christensen
(University of Aarhus)


In the spring of 1859. Johan Hampus Furuhjelm. thirty-seven-year-old harbour master of Ajan, a small harbour on the coast of Siberia, was appointed governor of the Russian colonies of North America. He was to be the next to last governor because the colonies were sold to USA in 1867. In December of the same year he went to Helsinki to find a wife, and on 2 February 1859 he married Anna von Schulz and later that day they started their journey around the world to Sitka in Alaska. On the first day of the journey she started her first latter to her mother (her father had been dead for many years) and she continued writing letters to her beloved mother until she was told of her death in the fall of 1862. There are approximately 600 pages of letters and these form the basis of my lecture. They are a unique opportunity to look at life in the Russian colonies through the eyes of a European woman (her daughter. Annie Furuhjelm. made use of some of the letters in her book, Manniskoroch Oden, Helsinki 1932). Anna grew up in Germany, first Heidelberg and later Darmstadt. She spoke English, German. French, and Swedish, she was a cosmopolitan and suitable to become the first lady of the colonies even though she was only twenty-three years old. The couple arrived exactly five months after their wedding, on 2 July 1859, and Anna immediately started fixing up the governor's mansion since the former governor's wife appears not to have appreciated cleanliness and fresh air. For both Hampus and Anna, fresh air and cold baths were important to stay healthy and in shape. One had to harden oneself since there were no experienced doctors nor proper medicine anywhere in Sitka. “God save us from serious illness”, writes Anna.
In my lecture I shall discuss the following: everyday life, social life and the celebration of festivals. Anna's opinion of the Russians, her opinion of the natives, the girl's school, the description of Sitka and Kodiak, the mail Hampus s duties as governor.

Источник: Christensen A. Johan Furuhjelm (1821-1909) and Anna Furuhjelm (1836-1894), governor and governor’s wife in Russia’s North American colonies / A. Christensen // Русская Америка, 1799-1999 : материалы междунар. конф. «К 200-летию образования Российско-американской компании. 1799-1999». Москва, 6-10 сент. 1999 г. – М., 1999. – С. 219-220.