Alaska State Library Historical Collections Kelsey, Claudia

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Alaska State Library

Historical Collections

Kelsey, Claudia
Claudia J.D. Kelsey Botanical Illustrations, Circa 1949-1988
MS 240

3 Boxes

Processed By: Anastasia Tarmann

24 ½ x20 ½ x 1 ½

1 Matted B&W photograph

8 Matted drawings

12 Botanical drawings in watercolor or ink

1 Matted B&W photo w/article

1 Illustrated newsletter

12 x15 x5

2 Binders

111 Drawings. 5 color photographs
8x14x 1 ½

6/2008, 3/2011, 2013

ACQUISITION: The collection was transferred to Bea Shepard by Claudia Kelsey and donated on March 13, 2008 by Bea Shepard via Judy Klein, and in person after the initial donation: Accession #2008-013, 2011-007, and Acc. #2013-014.
ACCESS: The collection is available for viewing; materials may not be photocopied.
COPYRIGHT: Requests for permission to publish or reproduce from the collection may be discussed with the Librarian.
PROCESSING: The bulk of the Claudia Kelsey Collection housed at the Alaska State Library Historical Collections consists of botanical illustrations in ink, pencil, and water color. Claudia made notes on the drawings, which were copied verbatim in the inventory below. Photographs and illustrated holiday cards are unnumbered in the original binder. All sketches and drawings are numbered. The collection was separated: 1. Two large drawings are held at State Museum [replicas are at the Historical Collections]. 2. Items that went to the Juneau-Douglas City Museum are listed in an inventory included in the Master File. Tissue separates items in Box one. Items in Box 3 were placed in Mylar sleeves. Some items received conservation treatment, such as double stick tape deposit removal. Intellectual arrangement: Biographical exhibit; matted botanical illustrations; botanical sketches with notes; cards and personal materials, including references to commissioned or volunteer work.

In the summer of 1951, Juneau botanical artist, Claudia Juanita Dona Kelsey packed up her crow quill pens and her India ink and set off on a great adventure. Her assignment: Draw the wild edible plants of interior and arctic Alaska for the first botanical reference of its kind in the Territory. The pen and ink drawings [in this collection are Claudia’s] sketches for the original illustrations for [the publication, Wild Edible Plants of Alaska] …The originals have been lost.
When Wild Edible Plants of Alaska was published in 1953, it was intended for military pilots who might be shot down without food in the northern wilderness…The study was directed by Dr. Christine Heller, territorial Department of Health nutritionist. The book was written under contract with the U.S. Air Force, with support from the Alaska Cooperative Extension Service…
Claudia Kelsey and Christine Heller traveled to villages and fish camps of arctic Alaska by small plane, flat-bottomed whaling boat and umiak, often landing on isolated air strips and beaches in search of the wild plants which Alaska Natives had long ago wisely recognized as indispensable food and medicine. Claudia is a botanist as well as a botanical illustrator. She identified and collected the plants in the field and sketched on the spot, noting color and surroundings. She avoided wind or rain, (but not mosquitoes) by taking her specimens to a shelter and drawing them that day. She never drew from photographs. She often signed her drawings with her initials, CJDK. [Biographical notes were originally written by Bea Shepard?].
According to the program for her wake [see Master File], Claudia Kelsey was born August 8, 1912 and died December 6, 2007. She worked in Los Angeles with immigrant children prior to coming to Alaska in the 1940s. She helped establish the Eagle River Camp, Artists in the Schools program, and Sea Week in Juneau. Claudia and her friend and housemate, Bea Shepard, received the Juneau Chamber’s Lifetime Achievement Award in October 2007.


Inclusive dates: 1949-2003. Bulk dates: 1949-1987. Botanical sketches of Edible and poisonous plants native to Alaska. Drawings in ink, pencil, water color, some with hand written notes. Hand painted or drawn cards (mostly Christmas). Photo subjects: the creator and her paintings, plant specimen. 1 B&W photo, 5 color photos, hand drawn or painted cards (mostly Christmas). Photo subjects: Claudia, Bea and Claudia, paintings, plant specimen. Memorabilia including memorial program and business license.

Kelsey, Claudia J.D, Illustrations.

Edible and poisonous plants, Alaska

Box 1 (Located in MS Oversized): Matted biographical exhibit, sketches
Accession 2008-013:
1 Unmatted sketch of V. Vitisidea

2 Claudia Kelsey, Illustrator

Wild Edible Plants of Alaska. 11.25’ x 21.50

2a Matted photographic portrait of Claudia [Kelsey] wearing

parka, Shismaref, July 1951. Biographical summary (See notes above).

17.75 x 17.50

2b Matted illustrations of Wild Cucumber hand dated Thane April 20, 1949 and V. Membranaceum [?] with handwritten notes describing the qualities of the plants. Biographical summary continued.

3 Matted Western Hemlock pen and ink sketch.

4 Pink Plumes Polygonam bistorta

Matted. Pink, brown, green watercolor.

5 Unnamed (Cloudberries?)

Matted. Pink, yellow, brown, green watercolor.

6 Juniperous Communis

Matted. Black ink.

7 Unnamed (Irises?)

Matted. Purple and green watercolor.


Matted. Black ink.

Accession 2011-007:
9 Biographical: Vitamins in Alaska Plants, article: 3-Woman Team to Study Edible Alaska Plants, B&W Photograph of Christine Heller, Bea Shepard, and Claudia Kelsey (left to right), 1951.

10 Vassinium. [watercolor illustration]

11 Claytonia Tuberose, 7/26/49. [color illustration]

12 Williams, Maxcine. Poisonous Plants of Alaska. Alaska Health. June 1949, No. 6. Drawings by Claudia Kelsey.

13 Unidentified [pen and ink]

14 Saxifraga Punctata [pen and ink]

15 Taraxacum Dandelion [pen and ink]

16 Angelica genuflexa, pen and ink

17 Streptopus Amplexifolius- Wild Cucumber [pen and ink]

18 Angelica Lucida [pen and ink]

19 Fireweed Shoots – Epilobium Angustifolium, May, 1949 [color illustration]

20 Spring Beauty – Claytonia Siberica [color illustration]

21 Nuphar Polysepalum [pen and ink]

22 Salix Pulchra [color illustration]

Accession 2013-014.
23 Young plant. Cicuta mackenziana. Potter Rd., Anchorage. 6, 7, 1951

24 Angelica Lucida

25 Cicuta Douglas II

26 Ligusticum Hultenii

27 Angelical Genuflexa

28 Cicuta Mackenziana

29 Angelica Genuflexa

30 Tayaruk. Goose Grass

31 Polygonum Alaskanum. Wild Rubarb.

32 Pre-run pull. [Red mushrooms]

33 Flowerhead

34 Sambucus Pubens. Elderberry

35 Vaccinium Alaskensis [berries]

36 Poisonous root of Cicuta mackenziana [matted]

Box 2: Cards and drawings

Accession 2008-013:

Binder 1

Botanical Illustrations. Black ink, pencil, photos, plant specimens. Pencil, ink, and color sketches with handwritten notes describing the qualities of the plants and referring infrequently to place names. One color photograph.

1. URTICA LYALLII Young Nettle Shoots

2. Antennaxia Monocephala

2a. Antennaxia Monocephala

3. Bog out highway - c. holostoma?

4. From plant at Nome, I think

5. Cloudberry - Rubus Chamaemorus

6. From: Edible Roots and Berries of Northern Canada by Porsild [three images]

7. Wild Onion

8. [Bulbs of unidentified plant – possibly Chocolate Lily]

9. Three flowerhead

10. Isetusa 1987

11. Start of Seedpod…[Possibly Iris]

12. Malaxis Paludosa

13. Malaxis Monophyllos - Use?

14. Juneau Rumex A ctosella Sour grass sheep sorrel - Same as that sent from Anchorage

15. Cypripedium Guttatum - My copy

16. Orchis Aristata

17. [Unnamed berry]

18. [Unnamed berry]

19. Rumex Arcticus - “Wild Spinach”

20. Rumex arcticus - See watercolor (1951) -CJDK 1988

21. Copy from watercolor-CJDK Rumex Arctic[?]. Bottom.

22. Copy from watercolor-CJDK Rumex Arctic[?]. Top.

23. Polygonum Alaskanum

24. Lambs quarters – chenopodium

25. Fireside cook books also give fiddlehead fern sprouts et. and nasturtum leaves as salad greens. Lambs quarters’?...

26. About 48 stalks in threes

27. from Life Anchorage

28. Montia tuberose (= Claytonia Tuberosa)

29. Claylonia Tuberosa (Potatoes) Keep C.J.D. K. copy

30. Claylonia Tuberosa (Potatoes) Pale Shiny Pink 7/26/49

31. CLAYTONIA SIBERICA Spring Beauty – [ rosy stem almost like a strawberry blossom] [3 images together]

32. Sagina intermedia

33. Cerastrium fischerianum

34. Stellaria ruscifolia

35. Stellaria Alabama

36. [Unnamed plant]

37. Kotsebue [3 images]

38. Beach Greens [2 images]

39. Anemone richardsonii

40. Caltha Natans used, but not good ink lines messy

41. Papaver alboroseum

42. Papaver Alaskanum

43. Papaver Alaskanum = P. radicatum ssp alaskanum

44. Reduce

44a. Reduce

45. Barbarea Orthoceras - cress? - natural size [2 images]


47. Are you sure we have this? Draba Calsin

47a. Are you sure we have this? Draba Calsin

48. ARABUS [Arabis] LYRATA Rock Cress

49. Arabis lyrata Small-Cress(?) 1949 [2 images]

50. Parrya or cardamine?? Signed, 1988

51. Parrya nudicaulis (Parry’s wallflower)[2 images]

52. Drosera angelica - later in year droplets larger


54. Saxifriga tricuspidata

55. Saxifraga Serphyllifolia

56. Saxifraga faliclasa

57. Saxifraga hieracifolia

58. Saxifraga Nivalis

59. Saxifraga reflexa

60. [Unnamed berry, pink and green watercolor]

61. Photo-C. Kelsey enlargement B. Shepard from Auke nu laid

62. White Red Raspberry –

62a. Seed-Nutka rose Natural size

62b. Bog Cranberry seeds - Number of seeds? - Skin flaps together only wire hair coming out

62c. R. Nutkava 1987

62d Like domestic Rasp. - red & green yellow Prickles not too heavy

63. Nagoon [blue ink] Lagoon berry [pencil, same as sketch] - From Kodachrome slides-Maxcene Williams A.D.H. poster-Heller - Salmon Berry - Wild rhubarb Polygonum

64. Epilobium latifolium

65. Anchorage

66. 1987 V. visil.idia[?]

67. Rather stiff firm look - flowers 2-4 together on drooping pedicels most or all (flowers 4 parted and stamens 8) - [Blueberry?]

68. Marsh marigold Catha [2 images]

69. Marsh marigold – dull green

70. Nagoon berry - Rubus Stellatus

71. Nagoon berry - R. acticus Fairbanks 7/10/51

72. R. Hudsonianum - Back of leaf

73. Ribes hudsonianum - Black Currant

74. Growing in yd from brant Rd out by [?] Haines June 1986

75. Potentilla biflora

76. Polentilla hypartica (= p. emargevata)

77. [Unnamed berry?][3 sketches]

78. Thimbleberry Rubus

79. Malus Fusca Crab apple

80. Yukon Strawberry – yellow rose center flower

81. Bog Cranberry

82. Bog Cranberry - nagoonberry

83. V. Ovalifolium

84. Beach pea

85. Viola Selkirkii (Reduce -)

86. V. selkirkii - Viola Selkirkii Redo – also seems large [2 images]

87. Reduce 67% [Viola Selkirkii]

88. Viola biflora

89. Viola Selkirkii [2 images]

90. viola biflora [2 images]

91. Silverberry – keep CJDK copy

92. V. oliginosum-berry light blue

93. Soapberry - don’t make berries too round some longish-[bottom part of plant]

94. Soapberry – warm yellow brown [top part of plant]

95. Young fireweed - willow weed shoots - May 12, 1994 - Life size - Epilobium Angustifolum

96. Young fireweed – Anchorage 1951

97. Epilobium latifolium - glacier flower

98. Seed Stalk - Plantago maretima

99. For Edible Plants 1949 - goose Tongue - Plantago Maritima

100. Hippuris [with dried specimen]

101. Slightly more than life size - Fairbanks 1957 -

101a. Mouse food Elak –

102. Cicuta Dougasii

102a. Angelica Lucida

103. Cow Parsnip

104. Angelica Lucida





109. Ligusticum


111. July, seed pods Labridor tea (Fairbanks) 1951

112. Ledum groenlandicum Labrador Tea

113. Primula cuneifolia – Redo: more pointed ends

114. Primula cuneifolia

115. Dillingham 1951 Bark Bean

116. Fauria cristagalli - June 1987

117. Veronica stelleri

118. Paintbrush – Highway out of Haines-mile

119. C. hyperborea - from Haines ditch June [with dried specimen]

120. Pinguicula villosa

121. Valeriana Capitate

122. Lactuca…Haines - (Rainbow glacier camp) (very late Robust plants) [with dried specimen]

123. Hieraciumtriste

124. Koenigia islandica
Binder 2

Accession 2008-013:

Notebook containing Christmas and other cards (Children, winter scenes, animals, flowers); correspondence; print for Juneau Methodist Church cook book, 1967; photos of four paintings, photo of Bea and Claudia with: “2003 Picture Dick Heacock” on verso.
Box 3: Loose drawings, publications, memorabilia
Folder 1

Accession 2008-013:

Drawings, publications, (one matted); memorial program; letter from Department of

Health and Welfare regarding publication; Sea Week drawings, How to be a pioneer; Business license.

Folder 2

Similar items from Accession 2013-014.

1. Young plant. Cicuta mackenziana. Potter Rd., Anchorage. 6, 7, 1951

2. Angelica Lucida

3. Cicuta Douglas II

4. Ligusticum Hultenii

5. Angelical Genuflexa

6. Cicuta Mackenziana

7. Angelica Genuflexa

8. Tayaruk. Goose Grass

9. Polygonum Alaskanum. Wild Rubarb.

10. Pre-run pull. [Red mushrooms]

11. Flowerhead

12. Sambucus Pubens. Elderberry

13. Vaccinium Alaskensis [berries]

14. Poisonous root of Cicuta mackenziana [matted]

Alaska Department of Education & Early Development

Division of Libraries, Archives & Museums

P.O. Box 110571  Juneau  Alaska 99811-0571  (907) 465-2925  Fax: (907) 465-2990

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