Have you searched our Online Collections yet?

by Mary Beth Rosebrough, Research Coordinator

Cataloging is a major activity here in the Collections Division of the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum. We do it almost all day, every day.  Cataloging means we record in our database, PastPerfect, all the information we have on the item in hand.  Who donated that newspaper clipping? Oh, it was William Boehmer of Brighton Reservation fame!  Did anything else come with it? Yes, as a matter of fact, it came with some black and white photos.  Right – all noted in the record. Recording the information keeps our accreditation with the American Alliance of Museums current and makes those materials available for research.  To access this blog page you clicked on a button at the top of our web page. But did you know you can access much of our collection from our website?  You can! – if you go to the dropdown menu under the Collections tab (right under the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki  logo), click on Online Collections, and then scroll down the page to “Online Collections connection”.   I’ve made it easy for you today:  our “Online Collections” search page is here:


Because of the diligent work done daily you have access to a large percentage of our collection and can research or “visit” our collection from your favorite comfy chair.  I hope you are sitting in it right now with your laptop and perusing a bit.  Try searching “patchwork” and you will get over 1300 hits.


That ought to keep you or any student, maybe a homeschooled high schooler? – busy for most of the afternoon.  Not only are you able to view a very good scan of the object BUT you can also read the information that accompanies it in the database – the description, the size and what it is made of.  Have a look:


Interested in document research? How about this historic newspaper dated August 18, 1921?



Not only can you read the synopsis to determine the article is about a scouting expedition for the building of the Tamiami Trial, but you can actually read the clipping itself.  Great, right?  And you find out it was part of a notebook belonging to Francis Frost White, a BIA employee in Dania (Hollywood) in the 1930s and 40s. Our collections assistant, Tennile Jackson, very carefully took apart that notebook, page by painstaking page, wearing purple latex gloves, and cataloged each one, recording all the important details.


And so, because of that attention to detail, we deduce that Francis can provide us with some interesting history. We can use Francis Frost White as our search term and find what else she collected.  Let’s try it and see what comes up:

http://semtribe.pastperfect-online.com/34687cgi/mweb.exe?request=keyword;keyword=francis frost white;dtype=d;subset=300

What we get is 145 hits providing an interesting walk through time and the history of the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Now you try it!  What are you interested in – guns, the War, beadwork, bandolier bags, baskets, dolls?   All are major holdings that can be searched and researched.  When you put in your search term, look to the right and see the different modules available:  All content (for searching all the modules), Objects (artifacts, not paper), Library (books, journals, and periodicals), Archives (paper documents), Photos, and People.  To refine your search check the most applicable one(s) so you aren’t having to wade through pages of items that don’t suit your purpose.

Goal 4_Collections

I hope you have enjoyed our walk through the online collections on the Museum’s website.  And hopefully you will enjoy the collection from the convenience of your own home – in preparation for your visit to the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki  Museum!  Our exhibits highlight collection pieces to tell the story of the Seminole Tribe of Florida you won’t find in history books.  This month we have an exquisite exhibit, Struggle for Survival, on Seminole removal and survival in the Everglades being installed in the Museum.  It tells a story that has not been told before in this way.  Come and see how our Exhibits team has used our collection to tell the Seminole side of the constant conflict of the 1800s and learn the real story of the Unconquered!



Attending the Grand Opening of the New Hollywood Gym

By Tennile Jackson, Collections Assistant

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of joining fellow Seminole Tribe of Florida staff, and members of the Tribal community, to celebrate the grand opening of the Howard Tiger Recreation Center in Hollywood. Described as a historic day for the Tribe, the inaguration provided attendees with a firsthand look at the gym’s amenities and enlightened many about the history of the Recreation Department.


The new Center was constructed over the past year and was built to replace the original gym established over 40 years ago. The two-story facility features a full size basketball court, fitness center, Boys and Girls Club, and culture department. The Center is also home to the Seminole Sports Hall of Fame collection consisting of several trophies, photographs and plaques honoring Seminole athletes. During the construction of the new gym, the items were temporarily housed at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum for safekeeping. As many may recall, selections from the collection formed a popular exhibit during their stay at the Museum. The items are now back at the gym and currently on display in the Center’s lobby.

The event began with a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by a large crowd gathered outside the building eagerly awaiting entry. As we made our way through the doors, many bypassed the lobby and headed straight into the brightly lit gym whose entrance was off to the side. Upon entering, we were greeted by colorful banners, basketball hoops suspended from high ceilings, and a glossy hardwood floor emblazoned with symbols representative of the Tribe.

Members of the Tribal Council and the family of Howard Tiger sat at center court as Moses Jumper Jr. stood between them and acted as the emcee. Throughout the ceremony, many individuals shared sports related stories from their youth while others expressed their gratitude to the Tribal Council who made the construction possible. Several of the speakers also paid tribute to the late Howard Tiger, who established the Tribe’s Recreation Department and mentored a number of the people who took part in the ceremony. The decorated military veteran and gifted athlete was honored with a bronze bust, unveiled at the dedication, to be permanently displayed in the Center’s lobby (pictured above).

The inauguration of this new gym is a testament to the Tribe’s ongoing commitment to serve the Tribal community and impact the lives of future generations.  I was thrilled to be a part of this momentous occasion.


Seminole artists featured in new exhibit at FGCU


James Powell, Registrar


Tennile Jackson, Collections Assistant

A new exhibit at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) features the art of several Seminole artists.  The exhibit is called, Long, Long River: Tradition and Expansion in Native Art, and it is co-curated by FGCU Gallery Coordinator Anica Sturdivant and Seminole artist Jessica Osceola.  The exhibit explores the pull between tradition and contemporary for Native American artists.

FGCU Arts Complex
FGCU Arts Complex
FGCU Gallery Coordinator Anica Sturdivant
FGCU Gallery Coordinator Anica Sturdivant

Seminole artists featured in the exhibit include Noah Billie, Elgin Jumper, Jessica Osceola, Jimmy Osceola, LeRoy Osceola, Samuel Tommie, and Oliver Wareham.  The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum was pleased to loan to FGCU two artworks for this exhibit.  From the permanent collection, the Museum loaned two painted cow skulls by Noah Billie.

FGCU exhibit "Long, Long River"
FGCU exhibit “Long, Long River”
FGCU exhibit "Long, Long River"
FGCU exhibit “Long, Long River”
Painted cow skull by Seminole artist Noah Billie loaned from the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum to FGCU Gallery.  Accession number 1997.61.2
Painted cow skull by Seminole artist Noah Billie loaned from the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum to FGCU Gallery. Accession number 1997.61.2

On January 9th, several of us from the Museum had the opportunity to travel over to FGCU to attend the exhibit opening.  The well-attended reception included artist introductions, performances, refreshments, and the opportunity to view this excellent exhibit.  The performances included an enjoyable story by Oliver Wareham, and an emotional performance piece by Elgin Jumper.  It was an enjoyable and memorable evening.

Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum Collections Manager Tara Backhouse and Museum Director Paul Backhouse
Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum Collections Manager Tara Backhouse and Museum Director Paul Backhouse

If you can, be sure to make arrangements to go to the exhibit soon, this short exhibit will run only through January 30, 2014.  For more information on the exhibit, visit FGCU Main Gallery’s webpage online at http://artgallery.fgcu.edu/Welcome_to_FGCU_Art_Galleries.html or phone the Gallery at 239.590.7199.

(Posted by James Powell on behalf of Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum’s Exhibits Preparator Nora Pinell-Hernandez.)

Otter, Coffee and Sand – Bringing an Interactive Exhibit to Life

by Nora Pinell-Hernandez, Exhibits Preparator

Hi Friends!
With every exhibit there exists an immense amount of research and consideration involved to make the experience informative and engaging. The Education and Exhibits departments have been working hard to create an interactive activity at the Stranahan Trading Post located in the From the Land gallery of the museum. Visitors, especially students, will have the opportunity to trade deer, alligator, and otter pelts for supplies such as flour, sugar, soap, and fabric-much like what the Seminoles would have traded in the late 1800’s. The activity reinforces the concepts of trade, bartering and basic mathematics to students. As Exhibits Preparator, I oversee the production of props, signage, and display elements that make the space look and function as a trading post. This process requires technical drawings and many test pilots that will inform how the props will be constructed and displayed.
Lucky for me, the façade of the Stranahan Trading Post was constructed in 2007. The crate-like exhibit cases were modified into tables and shelves were constructed to go onto the larger crate. The technical drawing drafted by Rebecca Fell, Curator of Exhibits, was helpful to imagine where the tables will be positioned.

Technical Drawing of the Stranahan Trading Post Facade by Rebecca Fell, Curator of Exhibits
Technical Drawing of the Stranahan Trading Post Facade by Rebecca Fell, Curator of Exhibits

Flour, coffee and sugar sacks were bought with the intention to display them upright. I constructed eye shaped towers to stand the sack upright and created a shallow shelf that will support at least 40lbs of weight.

Sack frame made out of foam board. This shape gives the sack the appearance of being full.
Sack frame made out of foam board. This shape gives the sack the appearance of being full.

The sack frame made out of foam board was later dressed with cotton batting. Each sack was topped with a fabric that matched the color of the item: brown painted faux suede was used for sugar, muslin for unbleached flour and a dark cocoa sheer-weave for coffee.

Foam frame dressed with cotton batting and topped with faux suede.
Foam frame dressed with cotton batting and topped with faux suede.

To make the trading post look from the 1800s certain objects needed to be artificially aged. Small pieces from the sack were applied different stains to determine which method would be best to stain all sacks.

Samples: A.Coffee and green tea B. Coffee C. Swamp water and dirt D. Red clay smear
A.Coffee and green tea B. Coffee C. Swamp water and dirt D. Red clay smear

We decided to stain all the sacks using method A, which is a concoction of brewed coffee and green tea. The fabric was then dunked in a vat of this concoction 3 times in two hour intervals. This method is easier to manipulate and offers a more natural aged look.
Considering that the public will be interacting with the sacks, a weighted custom crate was constructed to go inside the foam shape – making the sacks less probable to knock over.

Crate that will hold a sand bag to go inside of the foam frame.
Crate that will hold a sand bag to go inside of the foam frame.

Another concern was the material that will be used to weigh down the crates inside of the foam frame and the filler for the brown bags on top of the sacks. Dirt and sand typically found outside may contain bugs, eggs and larvae which can cause severe damage to the collection. To combat the possibility of pest infestation, we decided to use “clean” sand which is sand that has been filtered multiple times.

Bag of sand in freezer.

Our bags of clean sand have been in our Back Bay Area for quite some time which is why we decided to err on the side of caution. We placed our sand in the freezer for over 96 hours in a freezing temperature of -18 degree Fahrenheit. Freezing objects is a preventative technique used to reduce the chances of pest infestation because it can kill insects that cannot adapt quickly to low temperatures.

Faux alligator skin, suede, and fur were purchased to mimic the animal hides that will be used to trade items. A pattern was created to make the process of making multiple alligators easier. Even the feet of the alligators where considered when making the pattern. My favorite part of the entire interactive are the googly eyes on the otter pelts.

The cutest otter pelts you will ever see.

Alligator pattern with optional stuffed feet.

The element that brings the entire exhibit together, and makes the interactive feel more authentic is the replica of a receipt sheet that would have been used at the Stranahan Trading Post. The original sheet was scanned and digitally edited by Rebecca Fell. The edited image was then printed on stacks of paper, cut to its original sized, and glued into booklets. Every visitor can now write and take with them a replica of a receipt sheet.

Original receipt sheet used at the Stranahan Trading Post.
Replica of the receipt book without the writing.

The Stranahan Trading Post took a lot of brainstorming, planning and painstaking labor. Though I truly enjoyed working on this project, nothing felt more satisfying than seeing all of the elements combined together to make an immersive space.



I hope you make a trip over to the museum and make use of our interactive. We otter see you there!

Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki staff attend opening reception for Museum of Florida History’s Seminole exhibit

Museum of Florida History
located in the R. A. Gray Building
Tallahassee, Florida

A couple of Thursdays ago, May 16, I had the privilege of attending the opening reception of the new exhibit, Seminole People of Florida:  Survival to Success, at the Museum of Florida History (MoFH) in Tallahassee.

Just before the reception, I joined up with Paul Backhouse, Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum Director and Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, and Annette Snapp, Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum Operations Manager, for the short walk from the hotel over to the MoFH.

“Hey, wait fo me!”

Once there, and after the initial hellos, the staff of the MoFH gave us a fantastic tour of the exhibit.  The exhibit documents the history of the Seminoles, and highlights the past and continuing accomplishments of the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

MoFH sign located at the start of the exhibit
Just one of many cases and displays of Seminole artwork and artifacts from the holdings of the MoFH

The exhibit is comprised of artwork and artifacts from the MoFH’s extensive Seminole related holdings, and from thirteen items loaned from the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum to the MoFH.  Nine of these loaned items are paintings by Seminole artist Noah Billie.  These paintings are accompanied by a video on which Noah Billie discusses his paintings and artwork.

The other loaned items include a beautiful bandolier bag, historic and contemporary dolls, and printed copies of the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s 1957 Constitution and corporate charter.

Seminole artist Noah Billie paintings loaned from the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum to the MoFH
Bandolier bag loaned from the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum to the MoFH

After our tour, the reception continued with music and food in the lobby.  The Kenney Hill Band provided the music, both music and food were excellent.

Next, everyone gathered in an adjoining room to hear Seminole Tribal member, historian, and Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum Community Outreach Specialist Willie Johns speak about the Seminole Tribe of Florida.  Extra chairs were brought in for the overflow audience.  Willie Johns’ talk was followed by an enthusiastic and extended question and answer period, that ended only when MoFH staff gently reminded the audience of the late hour.

Thank you Museum of Florida History for a very enjoyable reception and evening!

Seminole People of Florida:  Survival to Success will be on display until August 18, 2013.  If you find yourself in the Tallahassee area, be sure to visit this excellent exhibit.

For more information, visit the MoFH’s website at, www.museumoffloridahistory.com/exhibits/current.cfm  Here, you will find information on the exhibit and upcoming scheduled talks related to the exhibit.