Thursday, April 10, 2008

A new find of old Tsimshian photographs

SHI was fortunate in recently obtaining two original historic photographs that show views of Tsimshian Natives in the town of Metlakatla, Alaska. This is great for SHI because we have a fair amount of Tlingit and Haida material, but not as much Tsimshian material as we would like. In short, I am working to balance our holdings and seek for more Tsimshian materials. Please contact the archivist if you have any materials you would like to donate. All donations to SHI are tax deductible and photos are available for viewing by the public for research and educational purposes.

Regarding these photos, both date to circa 1890s. The first image, seen on the above right, is a stereoview photo showing a Tsimshian family seated on the front porch of their home (click on the image for a close-up view). The caption refers to “New Metlakatla,” which is interesting because the term ‘New’ was dropped in 1888 (for additional information about the history of Metlakatla click here). While it appears the photographer of the image scratched the year date of ‘1897’ on the image (on the door), it’s possible this image is older since the term ‘New’ was used. The reverse of the stereoview contains a handwritten note that the stereoview was given as a gift to someone during Christmas 1900.

The second image is an 8 x 5 inch cabinet card showing a unique view of students from the Native Girls School in Metlakatla. Taken by Miller-Chase photographers, the image likely also dates to circa 1890s because of the clothing worn and since the photo is in cabinet card format.

All in all, both images are great recent additions to SHI’s Special Collections Research Center. Special Collections staff is pleased to obtain Tsimshian material and we hope to locate more. Special Collections offers its services to anyone interested in the study of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian.