Clah, Arthur Wellington (1831-1916)

  • Clah, Arthur Wellington, 1831-1916
  • Archives and manuscripts

Collection contents

About this work


Journals, account-books and note-books by a Tsimshian Native American: with reminiscences of his early life; extracts by Sir Henry Wellcome from the journals 1875-1905; and a 'List of journals, account books and other memorandum books of Arthur Wellington Clah', with brief notes by Wellcome on the development of writing and culture.

The journal series was intended to be a history of his people: it includes daily weather-notes, regular pious interjections, and much sporadic material on his life and work, on epidemics, residual potlatch ceremonies, Native American relations with whites, and on land-claims.

Produced at Port Simpson, Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia, Canada; at New Metlakahtla, Alaska, U.S.A.; and at other locations.



Physical description

5 boxes (72 items) Var. sizes. 69 bound and unbound note-books 1859-1910; also typescripts, MS extracts and notes.

Acquisition note

Purchased from Clah's family after his death, 1911.

Biographical note

Arthur Wellington Clah (1831-1916) of the Tsimshian people was one of the earliest converts made by William Duncan (1832-1918) of the Church Missionary Society after the latter's arrival in 1857 at Fort Simpson, B.C., Canada (now named Port Simpson). He became a pupil-teacher, trader and preacher and was closely associated with Duncan; it is said that he saved Duncan's life when the latter was attacked by the unconverted local inhabitants.

In 1862 Duncan set up the Metlakahtla Settlement about 15 miles to the south of Port Simpson; transferring it to New Metlakahtla, Alaska, in 1887. Sir Henry Wellcome (1853-1936) was an outstanding benefactor of the Metlakahtlans. Clah moved north to Alaska when Duncan did, although he was not a member of Metlakatla Settlement or of New Metlakatla; both he and Wellcome were active in pressing land-claims against the Canadian government.

Related material

In Wellcome Library:

See WMS/Amer.141 for material relating to Clah's son Albert Wellington (1881-1914). In Henry Wellcome's own papers WA/HSW/ME deals with his involvement with Metlakatla. In the records of the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum, WA/HMM/CM/Col/71 documents the acquisition of material including Clah personalia. MS.8816 comprises two manuscript lectures, 1882-1884 on "The Mission Field of Metlakaahtla".

Finding aids

Described in: Robin Price, An Annotated Catalogue of Medical Americana in the Library of the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine (London: Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, 1983).

Location of duplicates

Library and Archives Canada (formerly the National Archives of Canada) holds microfilm copies of diaries 1-62, and may lend these; copies were also made for Tsim Shian Tribal Council (dissolved 2005); the Museum Of Northern British Columbia; and the Canadian Museum Of Civilisation (established as no longer held by successor organisation, Canadian Museum of History, 2022).


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Accession number

  • 300700