Sheldon Jackson College

Coordinates: 57°03′03″N 135°19′25″W / 57.05095°N 135.32372°W / 57.05095; -135.32372
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Sheldon Jackson College
Academic staff
Administrative staff
801 Lincoln Street
Sitka, AK 99835
, , ,
Sheldon Jackson School
Alaska Heritage Resources Survey
Richard Allen Memorial Hall on the SJC campus
Sheldon Jackson College is located in Downtown Sitka
Sheldon Jackson College
Sheldon Jackson College is located in Alaska
Sheldon Jackson College
Location801 Lincoln Street, Sitka, Alaska
Coordinates57°03′03″N 135°19′25″W / 57.05095°N 135.32372°W / 57.05095; -135.32372
Area13 acres (5.3 ha)
NRHP reference No.72000193[2][a]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPFebruary 23, 1972
Designated NHLDAugust 7, 2001[3]

Sheldon Jackson College (SJC) was a small private college located on Baranof Island in Sitka, Alaska, United States. Founded in 1878, it was the oldest institution of higher learning in Alaska and maintained a historic relationship with the Presbyterian Church. The college was named in honor of Rev. Sheldon Jackson, an early missionary and educational leader in Alaska.

Due to declining enrollment, the college closed in 2007; four years later, ownership of its campus was transferred to the organization behind the Sitka Fine Arts Camp.[1] In addition to the fine arts camp, the Sheldon Jackson Museum, the Sitka Sound Science Center, the Sitka Summer Music Festival, the Sitka International Hostel, Outer Coast College, and several other organizations are located in buildings on the campus of the former school. The school buildings are part of the Sheldon Jackson School National Historic Landmark District.


Similar to the Carlisle Indian School, Sheldon Jackson College (SJC) was initially formed as a "training" school for Alaska Native boys.[4] The school was founded in 1878 by Fannie Kellogg and future Governor of Alaska John G. Brady for the Tlingit people. Initially known as the Sitka Industrial and Training School, it nearly closed in 1882 after its original facility, located over a military barracks, burned down. The Presbyterian missionary Sheldon Jackson came to the rescue of the school, raising funds through a national campaign, leading to the construction of a new building on the site of the present campus. In 1910,[citation needed] after Rev. Jackson died, the school was renamed in his honor.

The institution added a boarding high school in 1917, and a college program in 1944. The college program gained accreditation in 1966 and the high school was closed the following year.


The school's educational accreditation was reviewed by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and State of Alaska, a process that happens nationally with colleges and universities. About this process, President David Dobler said, "SJC’s current authorization to operate as an Alaska post-secondary institution has been extended until July 2006, and SJC, at that time, will be required to provide the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education (ACPE) with documentation of financial and administrative capacity in order for authorization to be renewed." (Dobler left the office of President in 2002.)[5] Similarly, the college was under a "show cause" order from the Northwest Commission and was required to "show cause" why its regional accreditation should not be revoked.

On June 29, 2007,[citation needed] all academic operations were suspended and all faculty and staff were dismissed due to cash flow shortages. The Board of Trustees gathered all staff and informed them that June 29 would be the final day of employment. They were also informed all health insurance coverage would cease at that time.

On July 17, 2007,[citation needed] the Alaska Commission on Post-secondary Education announced the cancellation of Sheldon Jackson College's authorization to operate a college in Alaska. The college appealed the decision, but was ultimately shut down.

In March 2008,[citation needed] the official website for the school went off-line. In the summer of 2008, the college opened its dorms and facilities for use by local workers and companies.

In 2010 the school library collection of rare books and artwork was boxed and stored.[6]

On February 1, 2011, the Board of Trustees transferred the main campus to Alaska Arts Southeast, Inc., the non-profit parent organization to the Sitka Fine Arts Camp.[1][7]

Beginning in 2018, Outer Coast College students, professors and faculty members have been hosted on the main campus.[8]

Notable alumni[edit]

Architecture and historic designation[edit]

The Sheldon Jackson Museum was the first building in Alaska built with concrete. Its octagonal shape may have been influenced by architectural philosophies of O.S. Fowler.[10]

The main campus buildings were designed by the, then just starting, firm of Ludlow and Peabody of Boston with aspects of western stick style. Beams were of Douglas fir and design was kept simple and exposed for easy construction and to demonstrate "honesty in building".[10]

In 1972, the Sheldon Jackson Museum building was added as a single property to the National Register of Historic Places.[11] The entire school, comprising 18 contributing properties and 3 non-contributing buildings, was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 2001.[3][11]

Campus buildings[edit]

The contributing properties to the historic district, built between 1895 and the 1930s, are:

Map this section's coordinates using: OpenStreetMap

Additional campus buildings are:

  • Stratton Library, built 1974.[12]

Stratton Library[edit]

Stratton Library was an academic library at the college. Prior to the construction of the building the university's collection was held in the Yaw Building. Prior to the 1955 construction of the Yaw Building, the books were held in a prefabricated army building that had been abandoned and moved onto campus in 1947.[13]: 120–3  The Stratton library building contained 48,000 items in its collection with over 10 percent of all material being directly related to Alaska's history, including many first edition books and rare periodicals. In December 2010 the collection was broken up. Rare glass plate photographic negatives were loaned to the National Park Service, other "Alaskana" was split among local public and academic libraries, and the remainder of the collection was offered for sale to the general public. The building itself was sold to the State of Alaska.[14]

Sheldon Jackson Museum[edit]

Sheldon Jackson College in summer 1991.[15]

The Sheldon Jackson Museum is a Native American museum located on the former campus of Sheldon Jackson College. Many of the artifacts were originally collected by Rev. Sheldon Jackson in his travels through rural Alaska. Sheldon Jackson Museum was founded in 1887, making it the oldest museum in the state of Alaska.[16] When it outgrew its temporary quarters, a new specially dedicated concrete structure was constructed between 1895 and 1897 and, upon completion, became the first concrete structure built in Alaska.[17][16]

The museum, collection, and grounds are currently owned and administered by the State of Alaska.[18][16] Organized within the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development, Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums, the Sheldon Jackson Museum was purchased by the State in the mid-1980s during the administration of Governor Bill Sheffield.


Many of the artifacts housed in the museum (over 5,000) were originally collected by Rev. Sheldon Jackson in his travels through rural Alaska. The museum's collection almost exclusively focus on Alaskan Native groups such as the Aleuts, Athabascans, Eskimos, and Tlingit/Tsimshian.

An affiliated advocacy group, Friends of the Sheldon Jackson Museum, sponsors several museum programs including the Alaska Native Artist Demonstrators Program during the summer months.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ While the form 72000193 contains NHLD designation for the entire school, the asset detail page still reference the original Sheldon Jackson Museum 1972 single-property enlistment.


  1. ^ a b c "Help Sitka Fine Arts Camp Return Home". Sitka Fine Arts Camp. Archived from the original on 2011-07-26. Retrieved 2011-07-08.
  2. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Sheldon Jackson School". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on September 29, 2012. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  4. ^ National Native News, 15 April 2010, "On This Day".
  5. ^ "Sheldon Jackson College". Archived from the original on 2007-03-15. Retrieved 2011-07-08.
  6. ^ Uncertain future faces books at Sheldon Jackson College library, Andi McDaniel, KCAW - Sitka (audio file) Archived October 7, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Arts Program To Take Over Sheldon Jackson College"
  8. ^ "Summer Seminar 2018 | Outer Coast". Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  9. ^ Sandra Marbut Profile
  10. ^ a b Poulson, James (18 September 2019). The Architecture of Sheldon Jackson Campus, from Phrenology to Academic Eclecticism (Speech). Sitka, Alaska.
  11. ^ a b Janet Clemens and Patty Henry (February 9, 2001). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Sheldon Jackson School / Sitka Industrial Training School, Sheldon Jackson Institute, Sheldon Jackson College / (AHRS Site No. SIT-026)" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2009-06-27. and Accompanying 19 photos, exterior and interior, from 1935, c.1940, 1998, 2000, and undated. (2.86 MB)
  12. ^ Blackson, Ginny; Olshousen, Mattias (2017), "Saving the Stratton: The Fate of the Sheldon Jackson College Library Collection", PNLA Quarterly, 81 (2): 29–36
  13. ^ Yaw, Leslie (1985). Sixty Years in Sitka. Sheldon Jackson College Press.
  14. ^ Woolsey, Robert (22 December 2010). "Book sale brings end to Stratton Library story". KCAW News. Sitka, Alaska. Retrieved 19 September 2019.
  15. ^ "Sheldon Jackson College, Lincoln Street, Sitka, Sitka Borough, AK". Historic American Buildings Survey. Library of Congress. Retrieved 2011-07-08.
  16. ^ a b c "History of the Sheldon Jackson Museum". Alaska State Museums. State of Alaska. Retrieved 2023-08-25.
  17. ^ Hoagland, Allison K. "Sheldon Jackson Museum". SAH Archipedia. Society of Architectural Historians. Retrieved 2023-08-25.
  18. ^ "Alaska considers selling historic museum to save money". The Seattle Times. March 11, 2019. Retrieved 26 March 2019.

External links[edit]