Monday, January 12, 2009


Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) has posted a searchable catalog of its archival collections on the Internet, a major breakthrough that will help researchers easily sort out what types of materials the institute houses.

The institute also has just started to add its book collection to the local library consortium’s searchable database, making it the only private library to do so.

The projects are part of an effort to foster greater scholarship on the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska, said SHI Archivist Zachary Jones.

“There’s a lot of opportunity for study because some aspects are unstudied. I think there are a lot of dated studies that need to be revised, and it’s only by looking at these fresh sources that people can get the information to rewrite history,” Jones said.

Before the archival catalog went online, people had to physically go to the institute’s Special Collections Research Center in Juneau to peruse it. The change allows people to search and view the catalog on the Internet.

“People can do a keyword search, they can search by topic, they can browse search, they can do a handful of things, they can just look at things by genre, say they wanted to look at what recordings we had, they could look at all the recordings in a list,” said Jones.

The holdings include approximately 25,000 photographs, roughly 1,000 cultural objects, nearly 2,500 media items, thousands of books and more than 1,000 linear feet of manuscript material that document the history, culture, heritage and language of the Tlignit, Haida and Tsimshian.

The institute also is adding a catalog of its book collection to the Capital Cities Library Information Center (CCLIC), so Sealaska Heritage Institute will show up as a facility that has particular books when people search the CCLIC system.

“We have around 3,000 publications. They date from the late 1800s to the present and they all focus on Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian or Northwest Coast studies in general,” said Jones.

The catalogs will produce lists of the institute’s holdings. Patrons still will have to go the Special Collections Research Center to view the materials and books. The center is located at Sealaska Heritage Institute at Sealaska Plaza. The center is open 8:15 am-4:15 pm weekdays (closed from noon-1pm). The database links are posted at

This undertaking is two-year project funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Sealaska Heritage Institute, and Sealaska Corporation.

SHI is a Native nonprofit 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. Language revitalization is a priority of SHI.

CONTACT: Zachary Jones, SHI Archivist, 907-586-9261

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