The Shotridge Research and Stewardship Project (SRSP) focuses on the Northwest Coast ethnographic collections made by Penn Museum’s Tlingit Assistant Curator Louis Shotridge. Research involves scholars, specialists, and community members.
19th century to the present
Tlingit homeland of Southeast Alaska
- Dr. Lucy Fowler Williams, Associate Curator and Jeremy A. Sabloff Senior Keeper, American Section, Penn Museum
Louis Shotridge was a Native Tlingit scholar who lived in Southeast Alaska from 1882 to 1935. During this era of assimilation sanctioned by American law, Shotridge found employment making collections for the Penn Museum from 1912 to 1932. Through his collecting efforts, writings, and photographs he recorded detailed clan histories and community practices across two decades.
In the past twenty years Penn Museum has renewed its relationships with some of the Tlingit communities Shotridge participated in. The American Section has loaned objects for use in Tlingit ceremonies, worked with Tlingit community members on Museum exhibitions and publications, and facilitated discussions initiated through the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (NAGPRA). In response to strong Tlingit interest, and with the help of IMLS and the Penn Library, the Alaska State Library, and Tlingit specialists, we created the Louis Shotridge Digital Archive in 2009 to make his collections accessible over the internet. In the past several years, the University has repatriated some objects and developed sharing arrangements for others.
Building on this previous work, the Shotridge Research and Stewardship Project studies the material and immaterial resources Shotridge collected with the goal of a wide-ranging publication. The publication will consider and address several questions such as what traditional knowledges do the collections hold? How can they help and inspire Tlingit communities now and in the future? And what related research questions do Tlingit community members want to explore?
Partners and Collaborators
Hoonah Indian Association
Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska