Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Curry-Weissbrodt Papers at SHI

For this post I wanted to briefly highlight one of our best and most important collections at SHI Special Collections, the Curry-Weissbrodt Collection. This 50+ transfer case/box collection (boxes are sized 16” long x 13” wide x 10” tall) contains papers gathered and saved by law firms representing the Tlingit and Haida from 1930s to the 1970s. These firms were primarily led by attorneys James E. Curry and I. S. Weissbrodt, who were first hired by the Alaska Native Brotherhood to fight for Native rights and land claims. The collection contains materials relating to the administration of the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, lawsuits undertaken by the attorneys on behalf of the Tlingit and Haida, lobbying efforts leading to the enactment of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971, the role of the Alaska Native Brotherhood in Native history, general Alaska Native history, and reference materials such as books, clippings, and government reports. The collection documents the high level of interest and participation in the claims movement by tribal members, the growing sophistication and changing activities of various individuals, and political, legal, and legislative tactics indicated or employed by the Tlingit and Haida Indians.

The Curry-Weissbrodt Papers really are one of the most important collections available for studies on Southeast Alaska Natives. The collection contains correspondence and depositions from Native people all across Southeast Alaska and documents their way of life in many aspects. While the collection is available for ILL in microform format from a few libraries, we would love to have people view the collection first hand. We’d really like to see the collection used by scholars, students (one could easily write a thesis or dissertation from these papers), and the general public. SHI is proud to have the papers of the Curry and Weissbrodt firms. The collection was donated to SHI in 1981 by I. S. Weissbrodt. For any additional information or if you have any papers you would like to donate to SHI please contact the archivist.

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