Skip to main content Smithsonian Institution

Additional Online Media

Catalog Data

Speck, Frank G. (Frank Gouldsmith), 1881-1950  Search this
Former owner:
Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation  Search this
1428 Negatives (photographic)
40 Photographic prints (black & white)
Mushuaunnuat (Barren Ground Naskapi)  Search this
Mistassini Cree  Search this
Lorette Huron  Search this
Mohawk  Search this
Montagnais Innu  Search this
Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg (Maniwaki Algonquin) [River Desert]  Search this
Maliseet (Malecite)  Search this
Mi'kmaq (Micmac)  Search this
Iroquois [Six Nations/Grand River (Brantford, Ontario)]  Search this
Penobscot  Search this
Passamaquoddy  Search this
Abenaki (Abnaki)  Search this
Wampanoag  Search this
Nauset  Search this
Mohegan  Search this
Niantic  Search this
Pequot  Search this
Nanticoke  Search this
Rappahannock  Search this
Chickahominy  Search this
Pamunkey  Search this
Mattaponi  Search this
Nansemond  Search this
Catawba  Search this
Eastern Band of Cherokee  Search this
Machapunga (Pungo River)  Search this
Innu  Search this
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Negatives (photographic)
Photographic prints
North Carolina
The Frank Gouldsmith Speck photograph collection includes portraits of individuals and families, as well as scenic shots and landscape views made between 1909 and 1937. Speck was an anthropologist and ethnographer, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and worked on behalf of the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation collecting ethnographic materials across the Eastern United States and Canada. His collection of photographs includes materials from native communities ranging from Newfoundland to Ontario in Canada and from Maine to South Carolina in the United States.
Scope and Contents:
The Frank Gouldsmith Speck photograph collection includes negatives and a small amount of prints made by Speck throughout the course of his career as an anthropologist and ethnographer. The majority of the photographs in this collection were made while Speck conducted field trips on behalf of the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation between 1924 and 1932, though there are photographs from before and after this time. This collection has been arranged into Series by geographical location and then into subseries by culture group or community. Series 1: Newfoundland and Labrador: Innu, Mushuaunnuat, 1916-1935; Series 2: Quebec: Innu, Mistassini Cree, Lorette Huron, Wawenock, Mohawk, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, 1910-1937; Series 3: New Brunswick and Nova Scotia: Maliseet, Mi'kmaq, 1909-1917; Series 4: Ontario: Six Nations/Grand River (Naticoke, Mohawk, Cayuga, Mahican, Tutelo), Oneida Nation, 1914-1937; Series 5: Maine and New Hampshire: Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Abenaki, 1910-1924; Series 6: Massachussets and Rhode Island: Wampanoag, Nauset, 1914-1931; Series 7: Connecticut: Mohegan, Niantic, Schaghticoke, Pequot, 1912-1931; Series 8: Delaware: Nanticoke and Rappahanock, 1911-1925; Series 9: Virginia and Maryland: Rappahanock, Chickahominy, Pamunkey, Mattaponi, Nansemond, Potomac, Accomac, Powhatan, 1915-1924; Series 10: North Carolina and South Carolina: Catawba, Eastern Band of Cherokee, 1915-1930. Many of Frank Speck's photographs are individual and family portraits of community members, many identified, posed outdoors in front of homes and community buildings. There are also landscape views as well as photographs taken during community events. There are a small amount of photographs that have now been restricted due to cultural sensitivity though for the most part Speck did not photograph culturally sensitive activities.
The collection is intellectually arranged in 10 Series by geographic region and within each series by culture group. The negatives are physically arranged by catalog number.
Biographical / Historical:
Frank Gouldsmith Speck was born on November 8, 1881 in Brooklyn, New York. He studied under the prominent linguist John Dyneley Prince and anthropologist Franz Boas at Columbia University, receiving his BA in 1904 and MA in 1905. He received his Ph.D. in 1908 from the University of Pennsylvania. His doctoral dissertation on the ethnography of the Yuchi became a basis for an article which later appeared in the Handbook of American Indians. That same year Speck became an assistant in the University of Pennsylvania Museum and an instructor in anthropology at the University. He was made assistant professor in 1911, and professor and chairperson of the department in 1925, a position which he held until his death in 1950. Speck was the founder of the Philadelphia Anthropological Society, and was vice-president of the American Anthropological Association from 1945-46. Speck's research concentration was on the Algonkian speaking peoples. Speck studied every aspect of a culture: language, ethnobiology, technology, decorative art, myths, religion, ceremonialism, social organization, and music. Collecting material culture was also an integral part of Speck's fieldwork. His collections can be found in museums around the world, one of which is the National Museum of the American Indian. He is the author of numerous books and articles. Frank G. Speck died February 6, 1950. (A. Irving Hallowell, American Anthropologist, Vol. 53, No. 1, 1951)
Related Materials:
The Frank G. Speck Papers can be found at the American Philosophical Society (Mss.Ms.Coll.126) along with additional photographic materials by Speck.
Frank Speck published extensively in the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation publications; "Indian Notes" and "Indian Notes and Monographs." These publications are avialable through the Smithsonian Institution Libraries or online on the Internet Archive.
Separated Materials:
A small amount of notes from Speck's field work can be found in the Museum of the American Indian/Heye Foundation records (NMAI.AC.001) in Box 273, Folder 18 through Box 274 Folder 2. Close to 4000 ethnographic and archeological items were collected by Speck for the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation (MAI) and are now in the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) collection. For more information about these objects contact the NMAI Collections Department.
The majority of the negatives were gifted to the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation (MAI) by Frank Speck in 1927. The group of Nanticoke photographs were purchased by the MAI in 1915 and smaller amounts of photographs were gifted and purchased by the MAI between 1923 and 1942.
Access to NMAI Archive Center collections is by appointment only, Monday - Friday, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm. Please contact the archives to make an appointment (phone: 301-238-1400, email:
Permission to publish materials from the collection must be requested from National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center. Please submit a written request to For personal or classroom use, users are invited to download, print, photocopy, and distribute the images that are available online without prior written permission, provided that the files are not modified in any way, the Smithsonian Institution copyright notice (where applicable) is included, and the source of the image is identified as the National Museum of the American Indian. For more information please see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use and NMAI Archive Center's Digital Image request website.
Indians of North America -- Maine  Search this
Indians of North America -- Northeast  Search this
Indians of North America -- Maryland  Search this
Indians of North America -- Massachusetts  Search this
Indians of North America -- Canada  Search this
Indians of North America -- Delaware  Search this
Indians of North America -- Midwest  Search this
Indians of North America -- Virginia  Search this
Indians of North America -- North Carolina  Search this
Indians of North America -- Southeast  Search this
Photographic prints
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Frank Speck photograph collection, Photo Number; National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
Frank Gouldsmith Speck photograph collection
Archival Repository:
National Museum of the American Indian