Alaska's Digital Archives
Sheldon Jackson Museum was founded in 1888 to house an exceptional collection of Alaska Native ethnographic material, most of which had been gathered by Presbyterian missionary and General Agent of Education for Alaska, the Rev. Dr. Sheldon Jackson. In 1985, the state purchased the Sheldon Jackson Museum and now administers its collection of 6,000 objects. In 1972, the Museum's unique building -- the first concrete structure built in Alaska -- was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Until it was sold to the state, the Sheldon Jackson College in Sitka operated this facility.
The Reverend Dr. Sheldon Jackson, in two separate items of correspondence, stated his philosophy for founding the museum which bears his name:
"...to provide and have on hand for study by the students the best specimens of the old work of their ancestors" (1887); "... otherwise, in a few years there would be nothing left to show the coming generations of Natives how their fathers lived." (1893). Although his references were to the students of the school he founded in Sitka (now Sheldon Jackson College), his intent has expanded to mean "student" in its broadest terms.
The Sheldon Jackson Museum and its collection were purchased by the State of Alaska to inspire human thought and artistic endeavor, to stimulate ethnographic research and to foster an awareness of, and an appreciation for, the enriching qualities of a multi-cultural existence.
The Alaska State Museums (a state educational agency comprised of the Alaska State Museum and the Sheldon Jackson Museum) identify, collect, preserve and exhibit Alaska's material and natural history and provide public access to services and collections of the Museums. The Alaska State Museums interpret and disseminate knowledge of the history of the state, its people, and its resources, and support others in these efforts. The Museums also assist and advise in the growth, development, and excellence of other museums within Alaska.