Washington State University Press is pleased to announce that All for the Greed of Gold: Will Woodin’s Klondike Adventure, has won the 2017 Mary Lee Spence Documentary Book Award. The prize was announced at the award banquet at the Mining History Association’s annual meeting held in Fairbanks, Alaska on Friday, June 16, 2017. Winning editor Catherine Spude attended. Established in 2013, the biannual honor recognizes mining history books that are edited works, compilations of documents (letters, previously unpublished manuscript reminiscences, oral histories), or significant photograph histories, or related genres. The winning author/editor receives a $500 cash prize.
William Jay Woodin was on board when the steamship Cleveland left Seattle’s docks on March 1, 1898, traveling with his father and several others. It was the nineteenth century’s last great gold rush, but rather than mine, they planned to earn their fortune by providing supplies. Unlike many stampeders, Will’s party chose to take both the White Pass Trail and the Tutshi Trail, and his story offers a rare glimpse into ordeals suffered along this less common, seldom chronicled route.
Part of an emerging middle class who, with minimal formal education, left farm life to seek urban employment, Will’s experiences epitomize the story of how working-class men endured a grueling Yukon journey. Whether packing tons of goods on their own backs or building boats at the Windy Arm camp, his accounts bring to light the cooperation and camaraderie necessary for survival, and his simple yet perceptive observations reveal much about how the average Klondike stampeder lived, worked, and struggled to overcome hardships.
Enhanced with family photographs and skillfully edited, Will’s writings—including diaries, a short story, and a candid 1910 memoir—record events, emotions, and reflections, as well as his youthful wonder at the beauty surrounding him. He provides specific descriptions of trail conditions, extreme weather, travel hazards, and social relationships as the horde of thousands climbed the White Pass and floated down the Yukon to Dawson. He describes the workings of the gold fields and the economics of minimizing risk.
Spude’s expert integration of the autobiography and selected journal entries places the young stampeder’s views within the context of the era’s value systems, economics and social structures, and illuminates what memoir writers sometimes fail to discuss when crafting personal narratives. A historian and archaeologist, she has written popular history for magazines and newspapers as well as numerous journal articles. Her book about the legend of Soapy Smith was a finalist for a Western Writers of America Spur Award.