Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Working on the Curry-Weissbrodt Papers

These past few months Special Collections staff have been working on the Curry-Weissbrodt Papers collection, and we’ve found some real treasures in this large collection. The Curry-Weissbrodt Papers were donated to Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) in 1981 by I. E. Weissbrodt and consist of approximately 50 transfer case-boxes of materials. These materials are comprised of records documenting the work of lawyers James E. Curry and I. E. Weissbrodt from the 1930s to the 1970s while their legal firms were employed by the Tlingit and Haida Indians to fight for fishing rights and regulations, timber development, and possessory rights of Alaska Natives. Overall, the collection contains thousands of documents, reports, publications, a few photographs, and thousands of letters between these lawyers, members of the Alaska Native Brotherhood, and various Tlingit and Haida individuals from villages across Southeast Alaska. The collection significantly documents an important era in twentieth century Tlingit and Haida history. For those interested in viewing a finding aid (a descriptive inventory) of the collection, click here, and a few years ago Special Collections staff and our webmaster created a small online statement and display about the collection, which can be viewed by clicking here.

Of interest, we recently looked at in more detail a few hundred historic photographs embedded in the collection. Since photographs often require special archival care, we recently separated the photos, placed them in new archival folders and sleeves, and created a Curry-Weissbrodt Photograph Collection. A finding aid for this growing collection’s contents can be viewed by clicking here. The photos shown below are from this collection.

This first photograph is a black and white photograph taken on Nov. 11, 1941 at Hydaburg, Alaska where representatives from Southeast Alaska villages and members of the Central Council of Tlingit & Haida Indians of Alaska met to discuss a pending land suit. There are seven other images from this meeting.

This second photograph is one of 107 images taken by William L. Paul, Jr. in 1945 of “cannery housing conditions” in Southeast Alaska. Paul took these photos to document how poor conditions were for cannery workers and fishermen in Southeast Alaska, many of whom were Tlingit and Haida. Most of these photos are sized 8” x 12”. This image was labeled on the reverse, and Mr. Paul stated it was a housing unit of the Superior Packing Co. near Tenakee, Alaska. SHI also has produced a digital display of other photographs taken by Mr. Paul, which can be viewed by clicking here.

SHI is an Alaska Native nonprofit organization established in 1980 to administer educational and cultural programs for Sealaska, a regional Native corporation formed under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. The institute’s mission is to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures. If you would like to donate materials to SHI, or conduct research at our Special Collections Research Center, click here to contact SHI’s archivist.

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