About the Ethnography Collection

Ethnography Collection
Moccasins made of hide, beads and porcupine quills, University of Alberta Art Collection, O. C. Edwards Collection
Artifacts in the Ethnographic Collection provide a window with which to explore the past and examine the foundations of today's world and our societies. Containing artifacts that resonate with the customs and beliefs of different cultures, the Ethnography Collection is used in the study and research in material culture and anthropology. The most notable acquisitions include:
  • The O.C. Edwards Collection of Plains Indian Artifacts: Dr. O. C. Edwards (a medical doctor employed by the federal government), and his wife Henrietta Muir Edwards (a member of The Famous Five) collected First Nations artifacts in Alberta and Saskatchewan in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. The collection was sold to the University in 1920 by Edwards' widow Henrietta Muir Edwards, in memory of their son, William Muir. Muir, one of the first faculty members at the University of Alberta, died in the Spanish flu epidemic in 1919 while tending to sick students.
  • The Douglas B. Lord Collection of Inuit Artifacts, collected in the 1950s for University of Alberta's Art Department by Douglas Lord, a school teacher at Kugluktuk and Fort Simpson in the Northwest Territories.
  • The Molly Cork Congo Collection, artifacts collected between 1890 and 1939 by Cork, the first female missionary in the Belgian Congo. Her collection was given to her nephew, Mr. T.W. Bull of Edmonton, who donated it to the University of Alberta in 1950.

Stay tuned in the future for search capabilities of the Ethnography Collection.


— Collection Highlights —

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Inuit Ulu
Inuit Ulu
Central and eastern Inuit
Northwest Territories, Canada
Muskox horn, steel, brass, iron and resin
14 x 19 cm

The ulu is a traditional, all-purpose knife still used by Inuit women for a variety of tasks, including the preparation of animal skins, eating and chopping ice. The knife is an essential tool in Inuit culture and is often depicted in the artwork of prominent Inuit artist Jessie Oonark.

This ulu is one of the many significant items held in the DB Lord Collection of Inuit Artifacts. The Collection contains a wealth of objects acquired by Douglas Lord, a schoolteacher in the Coppermine area during the 1940s. The Collection is used for teaching, revealing much about the past life of the Inuit.