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Catalog Data

Higley, Elmer Ellsworth  Search this
534 Lantern slides
0.2 Linear feet
Pikuni (Piegan) [Blackfeet Nation, Browning, Montana]  Search this
Nooksack  Search this
Tulalip  Search this
Haida  Search this
Tlingit  Search this
Kalispel (Pend d'Oreilles)  Search this
Wasco  Search this
Yakama (Yakima)  Search this
Mohawk  Search this
Niitsitapii (Blackfoot/Blackfeet)  Search this
DinĂ© (Navajo)  Search this
Pueblo  Search this
American Indians  Search this
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Lantern slides
bulk circa 1900-1968
This collection consists of 534 glass lantern slides depicting Indigenous groups throughout North America. It also includes a small number of publications written by Elmer E. Higley and others about Native Americans and missionary work during the early twentieth century.
Scope and Contents:
The Elmer E. Higley collection consists of both Lantern Slides and Printed Materials. Series 1: Lantern Slides, 1900-1924, includes 534 glass lantern slides, many hand-colored. The lantern slides were used by Higley in lectures to promote his missionary and reform work with the Joint Committee on Indian Work of the Methodist Episcopal Church, of which he was the Superintendent from 1919 to 1923. While Higley was the photographer of some of the lantern slide images, specifically those taken in Mesa Verde, the majority of the photographs were not taken by Higley, but rather collected by him for use in his lectures as he traveled around the country. Series 2: Printed Materials, 1914-1968, includes a small number of early twentieth-century publications written by Higley and others about Native Americans and missionary work in the United States during this time.
Please note that the language and terminology used in this collection reflects the context and culture of the time of its creation, and may include culturally sensitive information. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution, but is available in its original form to facilitate research.
This collection is arranged into two series. Series 1: Lantern Slides, 1900-1924 and Series 2: Printed Materials, 1914-1968.
Biographical / Historical:
Elmer Ellsworth Higley was born in Ohio in 1867. He attended high school and college in northwestern Pennsylvania before marrying Alice C. Dowler in 1892. Higley later also attended the Drew Theological Seminary and afterwards worked as a pastor in a number of Methodist churches around the country. In approximately 1919 Higley was appointed Superintendent of the Joint Committee on Indian Work of the Methodist Episcopal Church, with his office based in Chicago, Illinois. Employed in this work until 1923, Higley traveled the United States, visiting Native reservations and promoting Christian reform efforts for American Indian education. While traveling, Higley frequently presented illustrated lectures on his missionary work to audiences, using the glass lantern slides now residing in the collections of the National Museum of the American Indian Archives Center. In the years after 1923, Higley continued as a pastor in both Ames, Iowa, and Evanston, Illinois, the latter where he eventually died in 1931.
Gift of Mrs. R. S. Jensen and Family in 2018 and 2019.
Access to NMAI Archives 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 Archives 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.
Some photographs in this colletion are restricted due to cultural sensitivity.
Missionaries  Search this
cliff dwellings -- Colorado -- Mesa Verde National Park  Search this
Methodist church buildings  Search this
Missions -- Mission School  Search this
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Elmer E. Higley collection, NMAI.AC.228; National Museum of the American Indian Archives Center, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
Elmer E. Higley collection
Archival Repository:
National Museum of the American Indian