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Eklutna Vocational School photograph album

Guide to the Eklutna Vocational School photograph album
circa 1926-1943
An Alaska Historical Society collection

Collection number: HMC-1385-AHS.
Chandler, Joseph O.
Eklutna Vocational School.
Title: Eklutna Vocational School photograph album.
Dates: circa 1926-1943.
Volume of collection: 0.3 cubic feet.
Language of materials: The materials in this collection are in English.
Collection summary: Photograph album documenting activities at a vocational boarding school for Alaska Native students.

Organizational history:
In 1924, the Department of the Interior established a home for Alaska Native children whose parents had died during the 1918 influenza epidemic. It was later converted to Eklutna Industrial School, a boarding school that provided vocational training to Native high school students. In 1930, the school’s enrollment reached 110 students, and it was the largest of Alaska’s three vocational schools. At some point prior to 1940 the name of the school was changed to Eklutna Vocational School. Between 1940 and 1943, the school was led by principal Joseph O. Chandler, who lived on the school’s campus with his wife, Edna, and their three children. By the early 1940s, the dormitories, which had been built using materials salvaged from Army buildings at the Chickaloon coal mines, were severely deteriorated, and funding was requested to replace them. However, the outbreak of World War II prevented the funds from being appropriated. During a site visit to Alaska, the Appropriations Committee of the seventy-ninth Congress found the condition of the dormitories to be so poor that they ordered the school to be closed immediately. In 1945, the students were transferred to temporary Army Barracks in Seward, and then to Mt. Edgecumbe in Sitka, in 1947.

Collection description:
The collection consists of a photograph album documenting Eklutna Vocational School. The first 10 pages of the album date from the early 1940s, during Joseph Chandler’s time as principal of the school. Subjects of photographs in this section of the album include portraits and group photographs of students and staff; school buildings; students and teachers in instructional settings; Joseph Chandler and his family; gardening; and crafts made by students. The first two pages of the album were replaced with foam core board and typed captions to selected photos, likely by Joseph Chandler’s son, Donald Chandler.

The remaining 25 pages are dated 1926-1928. Subjects of photographs in this part of the album include scenery; school buildings, including construction of the shop building; gardening; students building dogsleds; the Alaska Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station in the Matanuska Valley; staff and students; industrial training in the shop building; and clearing land at the school.

Names of students in the album captions are: Elsie, Lenora, Lottie Audlajsriij, Sassa, Silas, Silas Negavanna, and Virginia Asiksik.

Arrangement: The album remains in the order it was in when it arrived in Archives and Special Collections.

Digitized copies: This collection has not been digitized. For information about obtaining digital copies, please contact Archives and Special Collections.

Rights note: The Alaska Historical Society does not own copyright to the collection.

Preferred citation: Eklutna Vocational School photograph album, Alaska Historical Society collections, Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage.

Works used in preparation of inventory:
Interior Department Appropriations for 1951, Hearings Before 81-2. United States: n.p., 1930. pg. 1247.

Related materials: Additional collections related to education in Alaska are listed in our Education collections topic guide.

Acquisition note: This collection was donated to the Alaska Historical Society in 2021 by Donald Chandler.  The Historical Society retains ownership of the collection and placed it on deposit in Archives and Special Collections in 2021.

Processing information: This collection was described by Gwen Higgins in 2021. The student names were added to the description by Arlene Schmuland in 2023.

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