The Louis Shotridge Digital Archive is now live at www.penn.museum/collections/shotridge
For the first time, scholars, students, and community leaders interested in learning more about Southeastern Alaskan Native history and culture can explore the remarkable Shotridge collection online. The Shotridge collection is widely acclaimed as one of the finest Tlingit collections in the world because of the kinds of objects represented and their detailed documentation.
This digital archive contains 570 objects, 2,600 written documents, 500 black-and-white photographs, and eight sound recordings. Louis Shotridge's records contextualize Southeast Alaska’s Native American history and art in the first three decades of the 20th century.
Who was Louis Shotridge?
Louis V. Shotridge (Stoowukáa) was a Tlingit ethnologist born in 1882 to an influential Tlingit family in Klukwan, Alaska. He and his wife Florence (Kaatxwaantséx) came to the Penn Museum in 1912 at the invitation of the Museum's American Section Curator George Byron Gordon. The first Northwest Coast Indian to receive professional anthropological training and the first to gain employment in a museum, Shotridge worked for Penn for two decades, from 1912-1932. During that time he conducted four collecting expeditions in Southeast Alaska, living 15 of the 20 years in the field. He received a monthly salary and purchased nearly 600 Tlingit objects, recorded hundreds of pages of ethnographic and historical notes about his own people, exposed 500 photographs, made sound and film recordings, and wrote 14 articles for publication in the Museum Journal.
Louis Shotridge’s vision to preserve Tlingit history, coupled with his indigenous knowledge and attention to detail, inspired him to collect, record and safeguard Tlingit histories, genealogies, language and art during a transformative era. By making these collections available on line, the Penn Museum intends to promote and extend Louis Shotridge’s legacy to preserve and share Native American history for future generations of Native American communities and throughout the world.
This project was supported by a major grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and a grant from Penn’s Center for Native American Studies. Project partners include the Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text and Image of the Penn Library (SCETI), the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (CCTHITA), the Alaska State Library, and consulting Tlingit scholars.