The William L. Paul, Sr. Archives
SHI's Archives and Art/Ethnographic Collections are stored deep in a large, climate-controlled and protected room at our headquarters in Juneau. Our archives, named in honor of the late Tlingit lawyer and activist William L. Paul, Sr., houses 3,100 linear feet of historical and cultural material documenting the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian language, culture and history. It contains historical documents, manuscripts, personal papers, and more. It also includes 60,000 photographs and 5,000 audio and audiovisual recordings, most of which cannot be found in other libraries or archives. We also care for more than 900 art and ethnographic objects both ancient and modern. SHI also serves as a repository on behalf of clans and tribes for cultural objects repatriated under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) for Native people of Southeast Alaska.
SHI’s collections are searchable in our online database. Our database is similar to a regular library catalog in some regards, but it is specifically designed to be user-friendly for archival research by allowing you to find materials by creator, subject, type of record, or keyword search. For more information on using the database, this video series goes over the different elements of global searching, exploring the archives directory, and exploring the art and ethnographic directory.
Once a desired item is found, please write down the details of the materials you would like to research and make an appointment to visit our facility by contacting archives staff at the email address listed below. Patrons unable to visit our onsite facility should contact the Archives for information about obtaining digital reproductions or photocopies. Please note that while Sealaska Heritage Institute is closed to the public due to COVID-19, in-person reference appointments are suspended. However, the Archives will continue to respond to remote reference requests as best as we can. Thank you for your patience and support.
Many of SHI's holdings are available to the public for educational and research purposes. For more information, please contact our archivist at SHIArchives@sealaska.com.
Our archives is named for William L. Paul, Sr., who was Alaska’s first Native attorney, the state’s first Native legislator, a gifted orator, and a formidable warrior who fought on the front line of many legal and political battles. His achievements, however, are not as well known outside of Alaska Native circles. Our Board of Trustees named our archives after him to honor his accomplishments and to publicly recognize him for his life’s work.
Because William Paul was one of the first to initiate formal legal and political action to resolve Native land claims in the early 1900s, and because of his extensive work on land claims from Southeast Alaska to the North Slope, he is considered the father of Alaska Native land claims. William Paul worked closely with his brother, Louis Paul, and his sons William L. Paul, Jr., and Fred Paul, who were also attorneys. William L. Paul, Sr., died in 1977. For more on William Paul, read the resolution passed by SHI's Board of Trustees in 2014 naming the archives for him.