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Shotridge Research and Stewardship Project

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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.

Time Period Studied

19th century to the present

Location Information

Tlingit homeland of Southeast Alaska

  • Dr. Lucy Fowler Williams, Associate Curator and Jeremy A. Sabloff Senior Keeper, American Section, Penn Museum
Project Description

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

Related Projects

Native American Voices – The People Here and Now

Louis Shotridge Digital Archive

NAGPRA and the Penn Museum

People Associations

Black and white photo of Louis Shotridge in clan regalia holding a dagger
Louis Shotridge in clan regalia at the Penn Museum, 1912. Photo by William Witte.
Architectural model made by Louis Shotridge
Louis Shotridge made this architectural model of Klukwan, his home village, in 1913. Photo Fran Sarin.
This wolf image detail from a wooden house post tells a story of Shotridge’s clan (30-29-13). Photo Fran Sarin
Man with object
Objects from Hoonah were resituated in 2018 and welcomed by clan members at the Alaska State Museum. Photo Lucy Fowler Williams.
Spruce root basket, ca. 1928 (30-11-1). Photo Fran Sarin.

Research Access to the Collections

The Penn Museum welcomes and encourages researchers to make use of its collections, including objects from all over the world, as well as extensive photographic, film, and document archives.

Find Out How