Clay and Relta Cooke photograph and film collection, 1903-1964  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Clay and Relta Cooke photograph and film collection
1903-1964 (inclusive)
1918-1920 (bulk)
20 photographic prints (1 folder) ; various sizes
1 reel of film (100 feet) : silent, color ; 8 mm
Collection Number
Views of Afognak, Alaska and vicinity including Clay and Relta Cooke and the Afognak school and a film of Indian women weaving in Mrs. Barber's weaving shop near Lummi Island in Washington State
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 206-543-1929
Fax: 206-543-1931
Access Restrictions

Access to original photographs and film restricted. Contact Special Collections for more informaiton. Permission of curator required for viewing.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Clay Cooke, born in 1893, and Relta Nichols Cooke, born in 1894, spent their early years in Bellingham, Washington. Following their marriage, the Cookes spent several years teaching for the Bureau of Indian Affairs on the island of Afognak, Alaska.

Historical BackgroundReturn to Top

Afognak was an Alutiiq village on the southwest coast of Afognak Island in the Kodiak Island Borough, Alaska. The village was established sometime before 1839 by Russian and Alutiiq settlers, but was destroyed by a tsunami following the Good Friday earthquake in 1964. The Afognak survivors left the island following the tsunami and settled in the new village of Port Lions on Kodiak Island, Alaska. Currently, Afognak Island is listed as having no established communities.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The photographs depict natives and landscapes in Alaska, mainly in Afognak, including scenes of Clay and Relta Cook at the Afognak school. The film depicts Ethel Barber's weaving shop near the ferry to Lummi Island, Washington, showing Indian women taught by Mrs. Barber weaving in the shop.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Alternative Forms Available

View selections from the collection in digital format

Restrictions on Use

Restrictions may exist on reproduction, quotation, or publication. Contact Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries for details.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top


Afognak, AlaskaReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
  Afognak viewed from the water
On verso: "The village is divided into three parts: 'Aleut Town,' 'Russian-town' and 'Creole-town'. This is a view of 'Russian-town' from the water. We live in the third building from the left."
circa 1910
2 circa 1919
 Native wedding in Afognak
Information from verso: The bride and groom are in the center of the photograph. Clay Cooke is at the center back and Father Gerasin in the back right.
4 1918
5 1919
6 1918
7a 1920
 Mr. and Mrs. Cooke standing in front of staff and school children, Afognak
On verso: "I ask you in all fairness!! Can you beat it?"
8 circa 1918-1920

AlaskaReturn to Top

These photos may be from Afognak

Container(s) Description Dates
9 circa 1918-1920
10 circa 1918-1920
11 circa 1918-1920
12 circa 1918-1920
 Relta Cooke and a man standing outside a small building
On verso: "An Alaskan native barabara where we stayed all night while duck hunting. It is made of straw and drift wood."
circa 1918-1920
14 1919
15 circa 1918-1920
16 circa 1919
17 1919
18 1903
19 1964
Container(s) Description Dates
viewcopy item
VC93 1
 Barber Hand Weaving Shop on Lummi Island
Young women model skirts and dresses of various patterns and designs outside. Young boy plays with a water bucket next to a tall woven basket. Sunset over Lummi Island. Ducks swimming. Same young boy plays with a stick in the sand. Fabric is displayed outside on a line.
From note with film: This color film was taken during the summer of 1948 (1949?) at Ethyl Barber's weaving shop near the ferry to Lummi Island. None of the Indian girls that appear in the film are identifiable, although one of them was proclaimed to be a princess in the Lummi Tribe.Four other persons appear in the film, the older lady is Mrs. Barber, the other two ladies are Mary Jeanne Durfy and Donna Swangerg (of the darker hair), the man appearing is C. W. Swanberg, a commercial artist residing on Vashon island. Mrs. Barber designed the patterns in the cloth and taught the girls to do the weaving. During the period we were at the shop, she had about 6 looms. Mrs. Barber's husband built the looms. Making the films was an exceptional opportunity since the designs and patterns were quite well protected, and Mrs. Barber was very careful of whom she let see the unsold work. February 27, 1986, Mrs. H.A. Durfy
Original 1 reel (100 feet) : silent, color ; 8mm
circa 1949

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Off-reservation boarding schools--Photographs
  • Students--Alaska--Afognak--Photographs
  • Teachers--Alaska--Afognak--Photographs
  • Personal Names :
  • Cooke, Clay--Photographs
  • Cooke, Relta--Photographs
  • Geographical Names :
  • Afognak (Alaska)--Buildings, structures, etc.--Photographs

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Visual Materials Collections (University of Washington)