Hardscratch Press

Jackie Pels,
658 Francisco Ct.
Walnut Creek, CA

email: jrbpels@


you've asked:

Hardscratch Press is named for an early-1900s family codfishing station on Unga Island in the Shumagins, easternmost group in the Aleutian Islands. The first author we published was Ralph Soberg, who wrote about his life on the island, about his roots in Norway, about his brief career as a bootlegger and his lifelong passion, building bridges and roads for the Alaska Road Commission ...  and who was the publisher's dear stepfather. "We" refers to editor-publisher-sometimes writer Jackie Pels and designer David R. Johnson, whose work has won awards and applause since Ralph Soberg's first book in 1990.


(not entirely in alphabetical order)

Click on each cover for a larger image and more information, including ISBN.
(You are welcome to use these images for review purposes; please credit Hardscratch Press.)

Ralph Soberg. author of our first books, is also, through no coincidence at all, the publisher's much-missed stepfather. Alaska Journey 1919-1934 reprints three of his early books (Captain Hardscratch & Others, Survival on Montague Island and Confessions of an Alaska Bootlegger). Bridging Alaska is this adventurous Norwegian's look back at 30 pioneering years with the Alaska Road Commission.   Any Tonnage, Any Ocean: Conversations with a resolute Alaskan is featured on our home page. The epic life of Captain Walter Jackinsky of Ninilchik was named "Best Memoir" by the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association in 2008.
Kachemak Bay Years, the late Elsa Pedersen's homesteading memoir, is illustrated with fine wood engravings by Sitka artist Rebecca Poulson.   From Southeast Alaska: Miner, Preacher, Doctor, Teacher, stories of turn-of-the-20th-century Prince of Wales Island by hard-rock miner/obstetrician Dr. Frederic Loomis, as compiled by his grandson Lee Sims; and Gilbert Said: An oldtimer's tales of the Haida-Tlingit waterways of Alaska, by the late Marian L. Swain.
Our roots are in Alaska but our appreciation of "real people's history" knows no geographic bounds, witness these three New England collections: Circuses & Sailing Ships / Recollections of a Runaway New England Boy / Norman C. Getchell, 1880-1976, as told to his son, Nelson F. Getchell; and MCML / Mary Cole Mason Lord , 1887-1988 / A sampler of stories from a turn-of-the-century girlhood in Marblehead, Mass., gathered by her daughter, Martha Getchell ...  

... and, with an affectionate look back at his New England forebears, Nelson F. Getchell's own wide-ranging and wry memoir follows his professional life as textile scientist and art and antiques dealer. But there's a reason "Fin" gets top billing. (Click on the image to learn why.)


Family After All: Alaska's Jesse Lee Home, Vol. I (Unalaska 1889-1925), tells of the people who established the Home and persevered there, of the neighbors who saw that perseverance as a threat, and of the children, whose well-being--however defined--was everyone's aim.


Family After All: Alaska's Jesse Lee Home, Vol. II (Seward 1925-1965), draws on the writings and reminiscences (and photographs) of former "Jesse Lee kids" and staff members for a frank, often poignant, occasionally comical account of life in remarkable surroundings


Homesteaders in the Headlights: One family's journey from a Depression-era New Jersey farm to a new life in Wasilla, Alaska, by George Harbeson Jr. with an Introduction by legendary Alaskan Katie Hurley, presents the recollections and ruminations, by turns tender and hilarious, of a grateful son and perceptive Alaskan.



.In Umnak: The People Remember, the Aleut elders of the last village on Umnak Island tell stories tragic and joyous of life on the edge of the Bering Sea. We're grateful that the children of Nikolski, population 34, helped collect these tales.


Unga Island Girl [out of print for now] is a daughter's account of the life of Ruth Lauritzen Benson Soberg, from her girlhood on what is now a ghost island through 80+ years in and out of her beloved Alaska.


 In Spanish rhyme with direct English translation,
on 20 colorful pages from the imagination of Seattle artist Laura Healy Engelstad, this librito tells of
el nieto nuevo
the new grandson and his brave big sister, la valiente hermana mayor.
With mailing envelope.


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