SHI President Rosita Worl and the late Cyril George’s daughter, Roberta Jack, sign a deed of gift at a transfer ceremony last week with the photo collection visible in the background. (Courtesy Photo / Lyndsey Brollini, Sealaska Heritage)

SHI President Rosita Worl and the late Cyril George’s daughter, Roberta Jack, sign a deed of gift at a transfer ceremony last week with the photo collection visible in the background. (Courtesy Photo / Lyndsey Brollini, Sealaska Heritage)

Angoon family donates vast photo collection to Sealaska Heritage

The photos span 75 years.

The family of the late Tlingit traditional scholar and master storyteller Cyril George, Sr. has donated a vast photo collection to Sealaska Heritage Institute that documents 75 years of Alaska Native life and history, SHI announced.

Most of the images were taken by George, a prolific photographer for most of his life.

The gift includes an estimated 4,000 images, and it is thought to be the largest collection of photographs made by a Tlingit person, SHI said in a news release. The donation was made official at a transfer ceremony last week at SHI’s clan house, where his granddaughter, Lillian Woodbury, spoke on behalf of Goerge’s family.

This photo shows Cyril George Sr. at Sealaska Heritage recording stories in 2013. (Courtesy Photo / Christy Eriksen, Sealaska Heritage)

This photo shows Cyril George Sr. at Sealaska Heritage recording stories in 2013. (Courtesy Photo / Christy Eriksen, Sealaska Heritage)

“Cyril had a love of people and enjoyed capturing special moments. Had a knack for it. He was a natural. That love has carried over onto me and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” Woodbury said. “We recently learned how big the collection was and that it spanned over 75 years. What a gift for not just ourselves but for others as well. His passion will live on and benefit generations to come.”

[Planet Alaska: harvesting devil’s club is a big responsibility]

SHI President Rosita Worl echoed that statement during the ceremony.

“Our people will be thanking Cyril George for recording our history through photographs for many, many generations,” Worl said. “Cyril George is going to live on through the centuries. He will be with us through his work.”

The donation was facilitated by Kathy Kolkhorst Ruddy, a longtime friend of the family and the attorney who executed George’s estate. Most of the photos depict people, boats, meetings and basketball games, and the collection includes many images that document meetings of the Alaska Native Brotherhood, through which people championed Native civil rights, she said in the release.

The collection, which dates to the 1920s, remained small over the years, then “exploded” from the 1960s through the 1990s, she said. It took five years to settle the estate, Kolkhorst Ruddy said in the release, and she called the photo collection the jewel of George’s Western possessions.

About five years ago, the photos were laid out at the annual Sharing Our Knowledge conference, where hundreds of people helped to identify the individuals depicted in the images, Kolkhorst Ruddy said in the release. That work will greatly enhance the public’s ability to find photos of specific people.

SHI staff is currently cataloging the collection, according to SHI, and it will be made available to the public.

More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of April 15

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, April 17, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Newly elected tribal leaders are sworn in during the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska’s 89th annual Tribal Assembly on Thursday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Photo courtesy of the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska)
New council leaders, citizen of year, emerging leader elected at 89th Tribal Assembly

Tlingit and Haida President Chalyee Éesh Richard Peterson elected unopposed to sixth two-year term.

A waterfront view of Marine Parking Garage with the windows of the Juneau Public Library visible on the top floor. “Welcome” signs in several languages greet ships on the dock pilings below. (Laurie Craig / For the Juneau Empire)
The story of the Marine Parking Garage: Saved by the library

After surviving lawsuit by Gold Rush-era persona, building is a modern landmark of art and function.

A troller plies the waters of Sitka Sound in 2023. (Photo by Max Graham)
Alaska Senate proposes $7.5 million aid package for struggling fish processors

The Alaska Senate has proposed a new aid package for the state’s… Continue reading

Current facilities operated by the private nonprofit Gastineau Human Services Corp. include a halfway house for just-released prisoners, a residential substance abuse treatment program and a 20-bed transitional living facility. (Gastineau Human Services Corp. photo)
Proposed 51-unit low-income, long-term housing project for people in recovery gets big boost from Assembly

Members vote 6-2 to declare intent to provide $2M in budget to help secure $9.5M more for project.

Members of the Alaska House of Representatives watch as votes are tallied on House Bill 50, the carbon storage legislation, on Wednesday. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska House, seeking to boost oil and gas business, approves carbon storage bill

Story votes yes, Hannan votes no as governor-backed HB 50 sent to the state Senate for further work.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Tuesday, April 16, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read