Collections and Fonds – 3685843

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  • Record Information – Brief
    Alika Podolinsky Webber fonds [textual record, graphic material].
    Hierarchical level:
    Fonds / Collection
    Type of material:
    Photographs, Textual material
    Found in:
    Archives / Collections and Fonds
    Item number:
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  • Fonds / Collection includes:
    2 lower level description(s)
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    [ca. 1900]-2006.
    Place of creation:
    67 cm of textual records.
    282 photographs : 134 b&w prints and 148 nitrate negatives.
    Language of material:
    Scope and content:
    The fonds consists of the records of Alika Podolinsky Webber, an anthropologist who specialized in the material culture of the aboriginal peoples of the east and west coasts of Canada. The fonds documents her anthropological research and also includes records of her family, including her father Sergei Podolinsky, secretary to Russian Prime Minister Peter Stolypin, and grandfather, the German chemist and author Karl Bittmann.
    Creator / Provenance:
    Biography/Administrative history:
    Alika Podolinsky was born 13 July 1925, in Baden Baden, Germany, the daughter of Sergei S. Podolinsky, an exiled Russian, and his wife Lisa Bittmann. Alika Podolinsky attended an art school in Freiburg, Germany and emigrated to Canada in 1950 to study at the Ontario College of Art. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Art and Archaeology in 1955 and a Master of Arts in Anthropology in 1957 from the University of Toronto. Her PhD topic, ¿The Art of the Naskapi Indians¿, was accepted in 1959 by the University of Toronto. Though her thesis advisor, T. F. McIlwraith, had accepted her thesis as completed in 1962, his death and the subsequent wrangling of his successors and others in the Department of Anthropology prevented it from being passed. In the end, the anthropology department dropped her in 1967, its chair remarking that ¿art was for rainy Sunday afternoons¿. During this period, she married the photographer Ray Webber in Toronto.

    In the course of her research on the Montagnais-Naskapi Indians between 1959 and 1965 (known today by their own name, the Innu), Alika made seven field trips to northern Labrador and Hudson¿s Bay. In addition to the art of the Montagnais-Naskapi, she also developed expertise in skin clothing and birch bark objects in the subarctic region. During these field trips in northern Quebec and Labrador, she collected hundreds of specimens of Indian and Inuit artifacts for the Museum of Civilization, Royal Ontario Museum, and other museums in Canada, the United States, and Europe. She undertook field research and developed ethnological collections for the Bata Shoe Museum, other museums, and government agencies from the 1970s through to the 1990s. For example, she did extensive field work among the Kootenay, Nootka, and other Indians of British Columbia for the Museum of Civilization between 1976 and 1980, thereby extending her expertise to include west coast Indians. She also colletected and catalogued aboriginal watercraft for the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough, Ontario.

    Because of her expertise in apparel and footwear, Alika was hired by Sonja Bata in 1979 to be the first curator of the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto and held this position until 1985. During the 1980s she also worked on contract for the Provincial Museum of Newfoundland collecting field specimens to develop their collection of Indian artifacts. Alika Podolinsky Webber¿s publications include, "North American Indian and Eskimo footwear: a typology and glossary" (Toronto: Bata Shoe Museum, 1989), and sixteen self-published research reports prepared in the 1980s. In her field work and publishing, she often collaborated with her husband, Ray Webber, who documented photographically the material culture of the peoples she studied.

    Alika Podolinsky Webber died in August 1998 in Victoria, BC.
    Finding aid:
    Textual records & graphic material (Photo) (Electronic) Finding aid is a list of volumes 1 to 5. MSS2461 (90:Open)

    Photographs (Electronic) Partial finding aid is an item list of the b&w photographs in volume 2, file 23 depicting the Innu and Inuit in Labrador (Nunatsiavut). MSS2461 (90:Open)
    Subject heading:
    Related control no.:
    1. 2006-00629-0
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