The John Canfield Ewers Papers document his wide ranging anthropological interests from early White depictions of Native Americans to the material culture of the Plains tribes through correspondence, exhibit catalogs, field notes, illustrations, lectures, maps, photocopies of archival materials, photographs, and writings. The collection includes materials relating to his numerous research projects and publications such as his books on plains sculpture and Jean Louis Berlandier as well as his field research among the Assiniboin and Blackfoot tribes. Ewers' career as an ethnologist based in a museum is amply documented through correspondence, exhibit plans and scripts, notes, and reports showcasing his work for the National Park Service and his fifty plus years at the Smithsonian. The voluminous correspondence file highlights his close collaboration with individuals such as Stu Conner, Hugh Dempsey, Claude Schaeffer, and Colin Taylor. Ewers' graduate studies and his family are featured in Series XI. One special category of materials in this collection is Series XIV, the card files. Ewers pulled information from his field notes and other sources, classified them, and typed or wrote them up on 3x5 or 5x7 inch index cards. He then organized these files alphabetically by subject within large categories such as "Collecting Alpha by Collectors Name" or "Fur Trade and Trade Goods." The card files include correspondence and photographs and closely relate to materials throughout the rest of the collection. Though Ewers' papers are primarily textual in nature, there are graphic materials throughout his files. Series XIII features the graphic materials that Ewers kept separate from his files such as the contents of his slide cabinets. There is overlap within this series as Ewers kept multiple copies of his slides in various locations. This series also includes audiotapes of conferences and symposia at which Ewers spoke and three scrapbooks. Of note are original pencil and ink drawings from his book, The Horse in Blackfoot Culture, in Series XV. Transcripts of oral history interviews with John Canfield Ewers are also available at the Smithsonian Institution Archives.
This collection was organized into 15 series - Correspondence, Research & Subject Files, Research Projects, Trips and Presentations, Artists of the Old West, North American Indian Art, Plains Sculpture Book, Berlandier Project, Smithsonian Institution, National Park Service, Personal, Writings by Ewers, Audiovisual Materials, Card Files, and Art Work.
John Canfield Ewers (1909-1997) earned a B.A. from Dartmouth College in 1931 and an M.A. in Anthropology from Yale University in 1934. Ewers began his career in museums as a Field Curator for the National Park Service. He helped design exhibits at Vicksburg National Battlefield and Ocmulgee National Monument among others. In 1941, the Bureau of Indian Affairs hired Ewers to design and establish the Museum of the Plains Indian in Browning, Montana. After a short stint in the Navy during World War II, Ewers joined the Department of Anthropology at the Smithsonian Institution. He worked at the Smithsonian for over fifty years in numerous capacities including Director of the National Museum of History and Technology (now called the National Museum of American History). Ewers' research dealt with the Plains Indians and the Blackfoot tribe in particular. Ewers wrote several books on a wide variety of topics including White artists depictions of Native Americans, Plains Indian sculpture, and the horse in Blackfoot Indian culture.
The John Canfield Ewers papers are open for research.
To a considerable degree, the James H. Howard papers consist of manuscript copies of articles, book, speeches, and reviews that document his professional work in anthropology, ethnology, ethnohistory, archeology, linguistics, musicology, and folklore between 1950 and 1982. Among these are a few unpublished items. Notes are relatively scant, there being somewhat appreciable materials for the Chippewa, Choctaw, Creek, Dakota, Omaha, Ponca, Seminole, and Shawnee. The chief field materials represented in the collection are sound recordings and photographs, but many of the latter are yet to be unidentified. A series of color photographs of Indian artifacts in folders are mostly identified and represent the extensive American Indian Cultural collection of costumes and artifacts that Howard acquired and created. Other documents include copies of papers and other research materials of colleagues. There is very little original material related to archeological work in the collection and that which is present concerns contract work for the Lone State Steel Company.
Scope and Contents:
The James Henri Howard papers document his research and professional activities from 1949-1982 and primarily deal with his work as an anthropologist, archeologist, and ethnologist, studying Native American languages & cultures. The collection consists of Series 1 correspondence; Series 2 writings and research, which consists of subject files (language and culture research materials), manuscripts, research proposals, Indian claim case materials, Howard's publications, publications of others, and bibliographical materials; Series 3 sound recordings of Native American music and dance; Series 4 photographs; and Series 5 drawings and artwork.
Howard was also a linguist, musicologist, and folklorist, as well as an informed and able practitioner in the fields of dance and handicrafts. His notable books include Choctaw Music and Dance; Oklahoma Seminoles: Medicines, Magic, and Religion; and Shawnee! The Ceremonialism of a Native American Tribe and its Cultural Backround.
Some materials are oversize, specifcially these three Winter Count items: 1. a Dakota Winter Count made of cloth in 1953 at the request of James H. Howard, 2. a drawing of British Museum Winter Count on 4 sheets of paper, and 3. Photographs of a Winter Count.
This collection is arranged in 5 series: Series 1. Correspondence, 1960-1982, undated; Series 2. Writings and Research, 1824-1992; Series 3. Sound Recordings, 1960-1979; Series 4. Photographs, 1879-1985; Series 5. Drawings and Artwork, 1928-1982.
1925 -- James Henri Howard was born on September 10 in Redfield, South Dakota.
1949 -- Received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Nebraska.
1950 -- Received his Master of Arts from the University of Nebraska and began a prolific record of publishing.
1950-1953 -- Began his first professional employment as an archaeologist and preparator at the North Dakota State Historical Museum in Bismarck.
1955-1957 -- Was a museum lecturer at the Kansas City (Missouri) Museum.
1957 -- James H. Howard received his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan. Joined the staff of the Smithsonian's River Basin Surveys in the summer.
1957-1963 -- Taught anthropology at the University of North Dakota.
1962 -- Chief archeologist at the Fortress of Louisberg Archeological Project in Nova Scotia.
1963-1968 -- Taught anthropology at the University of South Dakota; State Archeologist of South Dakota; Director of the W. H. Over Dakota Museum.
1963-1966 -- Director of the Institute of Indian Studies, University of South Dakota.
1968-1982 -- Associate professor of anthropology at Oklahoma State University at Stillwater (became a full professor in 1971).
1979 -- Consulted for exhibitions at the Western Heritage Museum in Omaha, Nebraska.
1982 -- Died October 1 after a brief illness.
James H. Howard was trained in anthropology at the University of Nebraska (B.A., 1949; M.A., 1950) and the University of Michigan (Ph.D., 1957). In 1950-1953, he served as archeologist and preparator at the North Dakota State Historical Museum; and, in 1955-1957, he was on the staff of the Kansas City (Missouri) Museum. During the summer of 1957, he joined the staff of the Smithsonian's River Basin Surveys. Between 1957 and 1963, he taught anthropology at the Universtity of North Dakota. Between 1963 and 1968, he served in several capacities with the University of South Dakota including assistant and associate professor, director of the Institute of Indian Studies (1963-1966), and Director of the W.H. Over Museum (1963-1968). In 1968, he joined the Department of Sociology at Oklahoma State University, where he achieved the rank of professor in 1970. In 1979, he was a consultant for exhibitions at the Western Heritage Museum in Omaha, Nebraska.
Howard's abiding interest were the people of North America, whom he studied both as an ethnologist and archeologist. Between 1949 and 1982, he worked with the Ponca, Omaha, Yankton and Yaktonai Dakota, Yamasee, Plains Ojibwa (or Bungi), Delaware, Seneca-Cayuga, Prairie Potatwatomi of Kansas, Mississipi and Oklahoma Choctaw, Oklahoma Seminole, and Pawnee. His interest in these people varied from group to group. With some he carried out general culture studies; with other, special studies of such phenomena as ceremonies, art, dance, and music. For some, he was interest in environmental adaptation and land use, the latter particularly for the Pawnee, Yankton Dakota, Plains Ojibwa, Turtle Mountain Chippewa, and Ponca, for which he served as consultant and expert witness in suits brought before the United Stated Indian Claims Commisssion. A long-time museum man, Howard was also interested in items of Indian dress, articles associated with ceremonies, and other artifacts. He was "a thoroughgoing participant-observer and was a member of the Ponca Hethuska Society, a sharer in ceremonial activities of many Plains tribes, and a first-rate 'powwow man'." (American Anthropologist 1986, 88:692).
As an archeologist, Howard worked at Like-a-Fishhook Village in North Dakota, Spawn Mound and other sites in South Dakota, Gavin Point in Nebraska and South Dakota, Weston and Hogshooter sites in Oklahoma, and the Fortess of Louisbourg in Nova Scotia. He also conducted surveys for the Lone Star Steel Company in Haskall, Latimer, Le Flore and Pittsburg counties in Oklahoma.
Howard's American Indian Cultural Collection of Costumes and Artifacts, that he acquired and created during his lifetime, is currently located at the Milwaukee Public Museum. In Boxes 19-21 of the James Henri Howard Papers, there are photographs with accompanying captions and descriptions in binders of his American Indian Cultural Collection of Costumes and Artifacts that his widow, Elfriede Heinze Howard, created in order to sell the collection to a museum.
These papers were donated to the National Anthropological Archives by James Henri Howard's wife,
Elfriede Heinz Howard, in 1988-1990, 1992, & 1994.
The James Henri Howard papers are open for research.
Access to the James Henri Howard papers requires an appointment.