News Release Archive

N.S. MUSEUM--Mi'kmaq Portraits Collection Website
Maggie Joe, her face etched with lines, her small frame dressed
in a checked shirt and heavy skirt, a bandanna covering her snowy
white hair, sits in a pressed-back rocking-chair in the middle of
a field near Malagawatch.

The mother of Mi'kmaq artist Madeleine Joe Knockwood, Maggie Joe
was one of many people whose portraits were taken by photographer
Clara Dennis, who roamed the province in her Model A in the 1920s
and 1930s, taking pictures wherever she went.

The Nova Scotia Museum received Ms. Dennis's Mi'kmaq photos in
1973, part of the William Dennis Collection. These photos became
the basis for the museum's Mi'kmaq Portraits Collection, which
now numbers 1,118 photographs and images spanning 500 years up to
the present. This database, put together over the past 25 years
by Ruth Whitehead, Nova Scotia Museum ethnologist, includes
images from other institutions and private collections, as well
as the museum's own holdings.

Now, for the first time, part of that collection is available to
Nova Scotians on the Internet. The Mi'kmaq Portraits Collection
website,, consists of
661 images of Mi'kmaq individuals.

The images include early Mi'kmaq rock art, 18th-century
watercolours, 19th-century lithographs, oils and etchings, studio
portraits of families in traditional dress, 20th-century postcard
images, photographs of Mi'kmaq men, women and children, and other
images, including film stills and videoclips from as recently as
the 1980s.

"This collection illustrates the long, rich history of the
Mi'kmaq people," said Dr. Whitehead. "It's important for its
immediacy. Mi'kmaq as individuals, rather than statistics."

For the Mi'kmaq community, the portrait website is a significant
archive of their culture and heritage. The museum consulted with
Mi'kmaq organizations and individuals in the development of this

The Mi'kmaq Portrait Collection website is a tool that allows
educators and students of all ages an opportunity to learn about
Mi'kmaq heritage, while giving researchers ready access to this
comprehensive collection of images. Portraits can be searched by
subject keywords, by time period or by region.

Funding for this project was made available by the Industry
Canada Schoolnet Digital Collections Program.
A public presentation on the website takes place Sunday, Oct. 19,
at 2 p.m., at the Museum of Natural History, 1747 Summer St.,


Contact: Judith Shiers Milne
         Nova Scotia Museum

ngr                 October 14, 1997                   9:25 am