1917-1951 Harriet Belle Hess

1917-1951 Harriet Belle Hess

Harriet Hess. Photo: UAF Rasmuson Library, Charles Bunnell Collection


Harriet Belle was born in Winfield, Iowa, and received a bachelor's degree from the State University of Minnesota in 1902. She immediately moved to Juneau where she served for five years as supervising principal of the town's first four-year high school. She moved to Fairbanks in 1907, where she was principal of the high school from 1907 to 1910.

She married Luther Hess in 1911, and was active in civic affairs including the American Red Cross, Pioneer Women of Alaska and the American Association of University Women and was the Democratic National Committeewoman for Alaska in 1947.

In June of 1915, Harriet, with a small group of others, including Judge Wickersham, traveled toward the Experiment Station by automobile. The prominent hill just north of the Station captured their attention, so they climbed to the top. It was there that Harriet broke a small tree and tied a handkerchief to mark the spot. Harriet's handkerchief marked the future site of the cornerstone, which was constructed for the 1915 Fourth of July celebration.

She was elected secretary of the Board of Trustees of the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines upon its founding in 1917, and she remained on the board when it became the University of Alaska Board of Regents in 1935. She was still a member of the board when she died in 1951. Essie Dale was appointed to take her place on the board.

Hess Hall as it appeared before it was torn down, to make way for the Gruening Building, in 1970. Hess Hall was the first concrete structure built on the campus.

Hess Village on the UAF campus. UAF photo by Todd Paris

Photograph of Harriet Hess in a classroom. Photo: UAF Rasmuson Library, Charles Bunnell Collection

UA Sites named after Harriet and Luther Hess

The Harriet and Luther Hess Recreation Center
Hess Village

Harriet Belle Hess is also mentioned in these articles:

The Farthest North Collegian, July 1925

Notable People: Luther Hess


Resolution, Board of Regent, May 21, 1951


Cashen, William R. Farthest North College President. Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, 1972

Cole, Terrence. The Cornerstone on College Hill. Fairbanks: University of Alaska Pres, 1994. Print. ISBN: 0912006579