Collection 87 - Harlan Smith collection

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Harlan Smith collection

General material designation

  • Graphic material
  • Textual record

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  • Attributions and conjectures: Title taken from the content of the fonds.

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Edition statement

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Statement of scale (architectural)

Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1919-1925, 1999 (Creation)
    Harlan Smith
    Reproduction prints were created in 1999.

Physical description area

Physical description

14 photographs : b&w
8 cm textual records : labels

Publisher's series area

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Harlan Ingersoll Smith was born in 1872 in East Saginaw, Michigan. He joined the Geological Survey of Canada as head of the Archaeology Division (now part of the Canadian Museum of Civilization) in 1911. His early work concentrated on excavating archaeological sites in Eastern Canada, and on Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands. Returning to British Columbia in 1920, Smith began ethnographic fieldwork among the Bella Coola (including the Nuxalk, Carrier and Chilcotin communities), concentrating on their use of plant and animal materials, social organization and ritual traditions. Smith was also a pioneering ethnographic filmmaker and photographer documenting Plains, Plateau and Northwest Coast Aboriginal people. He wrote and published many articles throughout his career. Smith retired from the Canadian Museum of Civilization in 1936 and died in 1940.

Custodial history

The original glass plate negatives were made by Harlan Smith from 1919 – 1925. The reproduction prints were made in 1999.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of photographic prints and text labels used in the “Emergence from the Shadow: First Peoples’ Photographic Perspective” exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, from October 22, 1999 to January 6, 2002. The images depict several different First Nations groups including Haida, Kimsquit, Bella Coola, Ulkatcho-Carrier, Chilcotin, Assiniboine, and Gitksan. The label text incorporates information which Smith recorded at the time of creation. It gives name and age (if known) of the sitters as well as lineage, employment, and style of dress.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Records were donated to the Archives by the Canadian Museum of Civilization.


Language of material

Script of material

Location of originals

Oversize box 34

Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

Consult Archivist for details.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

All rights in the material, and any documentation, image and related text supplied by the Museum, including without limitation any copyrights, other than the non-exclusive permission granted herein, will remain vested in the Museum. If photographic labels are changed or altered, a mandatory credit line must be cited as follows: Courtesy of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, image no… Consult Archivist for details.

For any use other uses than exhibit purposes, including a publication, web site, or a CD-Rom, a written permission must be requested and if granted, licensing fees may then apply. For any request form a third party, individual or institution, that wishes to use or obtain copies of the material, the request must be redirected to the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Consult Archivist and case file for details.

Finding aids

See attached pdf document for full finding aid and file list.

Generated finding aid

Associated materials

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No further accruals are expected.

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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Revised December 8, 2015 (finding aid added)
Updated October 2019

Language of description

Script of description


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physical storage

  • Box: Oversized 34