Featured Artifacts

The Sitka History Museum Collections Revealed…

To earn a place in the Sitka History Museum’s collection, an artifact or archive must embody much more than the materials they are made with.  They must hold the potential to teach us about important people, places, events, and life in the past.  Explore Sitka’s and Southeast Alaska’s stories as told through the artifacts and archives of the Sitka History Museum Collections.

Shaping Alaska

What do a rifle and the shape of Alaska have in common? This Barnett percussion rifle was commonly referred to as an Indian Trade Gun. When the Russians sailed to Alaska, they brought with them trade beads and inexpensive goods to trade with local Native populations for furs. But the Russians were not alone on the Pacific Coast. American and ...
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Billy Basin

Hurdy-gurdy wheels were born of the California gold rush and used hydroelectric power to run small stamp mills. When the wheel proved inefficient for powering large mills, Lester Pelton set out to increase the efficiency and power of the wheel. He developed a jet-splitting wedge. The wedge split the water stream, and the water followed the curve, sweeping upward and ...
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Fit for a King

Fred Bahovec was born in Austria-Hungary in 1889 and traveled to the United States in 1900. At 18, Fred enlisted in the Army where he was a sharpshooter, won a gymnastics pennant for his company, and met Teddy Roosevelt’s son, Kermit. After his discharge, a friendly neighbor said “If I were you, young man, I’d head for Alaska, where you ...
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The Dapper Dentist

Among the young portraits on a 1919 Marquette University Dental School graduation record is the face of H. J. Hodgins. Harry, as Dr. Hodgins was known around town, came from the Wisconsin university to Sitka in 1920, only a short time after graduating. His yearbook entry tells of an energetic young man who, “besides his ability to entertain with weird ...
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Featured Artifact Archives

Many Russian Orthodox communities throughout Alaska celebrate Christmas with a tradition known as Selaviq or Starring. Selaviq celebrates the birth of Christ through the sharing of song and prayer. The tradition began in the 16th Century in the Carpathian Mountains ...
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In March of 1905, Miss Nadja Henrietta Bahrt married Sergeant Luther Irving Rose at St. Michael’s Cathedral in Sitka. At the time of her wedding, Nadja’s family had already lived in Sitka for nearly 50 years, her grandfather, John Kaznakoff, ...
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When you successfully pull off one of the most epic pranks in the history of the United States, the only thing left to do is design commemorative wear like this "Porky's" jacket in the Sitka History Museum's permanent collection. The ...
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The westward expansion of the United States did not just open new lands to eager settlers; it opened new doors of opportunity for women. Nineteenth century social ideals limited a woman’s sphere to home and family, but the demands of ...
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Like a wise and trusted elder, museum artifacts possess knowledge born of their experiences in the world and the meanings attributed to them by the people with whom they have come into contact. They help us to tell stories of ...
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Alaska residents know that in order to live and thrive in this state, one has to wear many hats. The long-time Alaska resident who once owned this hat did just that…he exemplified the notion of a modern Renaissance man. Born ...
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Emily McCorkle Fitzgerald Emily McCorkle Fitzgerald first came to Sitka in 1874 when her husband, Dr. Jenkins A. Fitzgerald- who she affectionately referred to simply as “Doctor”-was stationed here as a military surgeon. Emily documented her experiences in Sitka in ...
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In May of 2015 the Alaska Legislature defied Governor Walker by moving its sessions from the State’s capital to Anchorage, prompting the Governor to declare that, “as long as I’m governor, the capital of the state will be Juneau…” A ...
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China Mary was a common nickname sometimes given to women who emigrated from China to North America in the late-nineteenth and early- twentieth centuries, but China Mary of Sitka was anything but ordinary. She was just fifteen years old in ...
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The history of beer rarely surfaces in conversation when sharing a night out with friends. The contents of this bottle, a part of the Sitka History Museum's collection, came to being in Seattle, Washington at the Bay View Brewery. Here ...
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What tales would our luggage tell if it could speak of our life’s travels? This unassuming box (86.68.1), a part of the Sitka History Museum’s permanent collection, embodies a story which far exceeds its humble form. The container itself, a ...
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