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Amos L. Wallace Collection

Overview

Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Amos L. Wallace Papers

Amos L. Wallace Photographs

Amos L. Wallace Associated Art

Amos L. Wallace Recordings



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Amos L. Wallace Collection, 1890-2013 | Sealaska Heritage Institute Archives

By Zachary R. Jones, Archivist

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Collection Overview

Title: Amos L. Wallace Collection, 1890-2013Add to your cart.

ID: MS/041

Primary Creator: Wallace, Amos L. (1920-2004)

Other Creators: Wallace, Brian

Extent: 11.0 Boxes

Date Acquired: 05/02/2012

Subjects: Tlingit art., Tlingit Indians--History.

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

This collection contains the personal papers, photographs, recordings, and art pieces of Tlingit artist Amos L. Wallace (1920-2004). The collection has high research value for understanding the professional and personal life of an accomplished Tlingit artist, as well as the actions of the Tlingit community in regards to culture and political actions. The collection also has high potential for museum exhibition purposes.

The collection has been organized into three Series of materials; Series 1: Amos Wallace Papers; Series 2: Amos Wallace Photographs; and Series 3: Amos Wallace Art.

Series 1 contains Amos Wallace’s papers, including his personal and professional papers. These consist of correspondence, legal papers, clippings about Wallace, interviews of Wallace, and other documents.

Series 2 consists of photographs that concern Amos Wallace, approximately 500 images in total. These photographs capture images of Wallace working on his art, images of his art, photographs from scrapbooks, historic family photographs, and digital photographs of Wallace’s art (most in family possession) taken by his son Brian Wallace.

Series 3 consists of art items created by or associated with Wallace. These include hand drawn art sketches, hand drawn art patterns (such as bracelet patterns) used by Wallace for his work, metal jewelry patterns, reference images of art, unfinished art items, and oversized art drawings, papers, and photographs.

Series 4 consists of recordings collected, made by, or of Amos L. Wallace. These recordings were captured on open reel, mostly all by Wallace, as he was acting as a type of ethnographer/historian among his own community; documenting important events, meetings, and actions of the community. These recordings include content concerning Wallace as an artist, the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood, the Central Council of Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, land claims, land tenure, interactions with the BIA, and other.

Researcher Note: Sealaska Heritage Institute also holds other art items created by Amos Wallace and his brother Lincoln Wallace. Contact the curator for questions. Sealaska Heritage Institute also contains the photographs of Amos Wallace’s son, Brian Wallace, which contain images of Amos and the wider Wallace family.

Biographical Note

Amos L. Wallace (1920-2004) was born in Juneau, Alaska on November 28, 1920, the son of Frank Thomas and Anna Cora Allen Thomas (1902-1970). Amos Wallace was a Tlingit Indian of the Raven Moiety, T’akdeintaan Clan of Hoonah and is often remembered for his art, being widely recognized Tlingit artist. His Tlingit name was Jeet Yaaw Dustaa.

Although Wallace was born in Juneau in 1920, his family then resided in Hoonah, and Wallace’s first six years were spent in Hoonah. Shortly thereafter Wallace’s father died and the family moved to Juneau, and a few years later Wallace’s mother married Frank Wallace in Juneau. Amos Wallace obtained his grade school education at the Indian boarding school in Skagway, a Catholic operated school known is Pius X Mission. He later obtained the remainder of his K-12 education at the Wrangell Institute, a boarding school for Alaska Native youth.

Upon completion of his K-12 education Wallace joined the U.S. Army in 1942 during the Japanese invasion of Alaska, served in Alaska, and according to Wallace’s military documentation his duties were “deck hand, radio operator, wheel watch, and winch operator.” Wallace was honorably discharged in 1945 as a Private First Class, thereafter he returned to Juneau. In 1960 Wallace married widowed Dorothy Wanamaker (1916-2006), Wallace warmly adopted her children, and the couple remained married for forty-four years, until Amos Wallace’s death in 2004. They made Juneau their home and took active roles in civic and community affairs, working to fight for civil rights as members and leaders of the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood.

Earlier in Wallace’s youth, at age seven, he had begun to carve Tlingit art items, including model totem poles. Reportedly, Wallace’s older brother Lincoln Wallace (1919-1981) began teaching Amos to carve, and together the two carved alongside each other during their youth. Amos Wallace continued to develop his artistic talents, which soon attracted national attention beginning 1958. That year he was contracted by a New York City department store, Abraham & Strauss, to carve a totem pole in New York, the pole later being placed at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. A few months later Wallace was asked to be a guest on the Jack Parr Show (later the Tonight Show) to speak about his art and life. Such publicity at a national level garnished Wallace numerous contracted totem carving projects, such as in 1960 being contracted to carve a totem pole at Disneyland’s Indianland. With Alaska obtaining statehood in 1959 and Wallace being a publicly known Alaska Native artist, his art work continued to grow. The Alaska State Museum’s Statehood Exhibit featured a totem pole carved by Wallace, as a centerpiece of the exhibit.

From this point Wallace’s art career continued to grow. He carved totems and large wall-plagues for a number of individuals, parks, entities, and organizations during his life. He also became a master silversmith and jeweler, carving highly artistic formline gold, silver, and copper bracelets and jewelry. Wallace was also contracted by Griffin’s-Alaska of Edmonds, Washington to carve Tlingit art pieces, such as model totem poles, plaques, bowls, and other, which Griffin’s-Alaska sold widely. His art was also sold through the Alaska Native Arts Cooperative Association, where he also became a board of director. During his later years he began teaching and apprenticing other Tlingit artists, sharing his knowledge of Tlingit art.

Amid Wallace’s art career he remained committed to his community and state affairs. He served in various capacities within the Alaska Native Brotherhood, as well as on Juneau’s Housing & Community Development Citizens Committee, the Juneau Community Education Council, and on the state’s Historic Sites Advisory Committee. In 1970 Wallace was the recipient of the Governor’s Award, the highest award given by the state to community members and artists. In 1998 the Juneau Tlingit-Haida Community Council named Wallace a Living Cultural Treasure. Wallace remained in Juneau until his passing in 2004.

Subject/Index Terms

Tlingit art.
Tlingit Indians--History.

Administrative Information

Repository: Sealaska Heritage Institute Archives

Acquisition Source: Brian Wallace

Acquisition Method: The Amos Wallace material in the collection was donated to Sealaska Heritage Institute by Brian Wallace, the son of Amos L. Wallace in various batches between 2012 and 2013, the first donation coming on 5/2/2012.

Processing Information: Processed by Zachary R. Jones, Archivist, in 2012.


Box and Folder Listing


Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Amos L. Wallace Papers],
[Series 2: Amos L. Wallace Photographs],
[Series 3: Amos L. Wallace Associated Art],
[Series 4: Amos L. Wallace Recordings],
[All]

Series 3: Amos L. Wallace Associated ArtAdd to your cart.
Box 1: Amos Wallace Art Sketch CollectionAdd to your cart.

Fd 1:    Sign and card that reads “Amos Wallace, Silver Engraving,” for display while Wallace carved.

Fd 2:    Hand-drawings and collected drawings/images of Tlingit formline bracelets. Most art Wallace’s hand-drawn bracelet patterns.

Fd 3:    Hand-drawings and collected drawings/images of Tlingit art. Most art Wallace’s hand-drawn art patterns.

Fd 4:    Hand-drawings and collected drawings/images of Tlingit art. Most art Wallace’s hand-drawn art patterns.

Fd 5:    Hand-drawings and collected drawings/images of Tlingit art. Most art Wallace’s hand-drawn art patterns.

Box 2: Amos Wallace Bracelet and Jewelry Patterns.Add to your cart.
Box 3: Amos Wallace Bracelet and Jewelry Patterns.Add to your cart.
Box 4: Unfinished bear mask by Amos Wallace, created toward the end of Wallace’s life.Add to your cart.
Box 5: Unfinished thunderbird riding killer whale carving by Amos Wallace, reportedly the last item Wallace ever carved. Note: wing of Thunderbird is broken.Add to your cart.
Box 6: Unfinished bear [?] carved plaque by Amos Wallace, created toward the end of Wallace’s life.Add to your cart.
Box 7: Oversized Amos Wallace Documents, Photographs, and Art Sketch Collection. The bulk are oversized art sketches by Wallace.Add to your cart.

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Amos L. Wallace Papers],
[Series 2: Amos L. Wallace Photographs],
[Series 3: Amos L. Wallace Associated Art],
[Series 4: Amos L. Wallace Recordings],
[All]


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