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.
This collection consists of postcards gathered by Dr. Victor A. Blenkle, a twentieth century physician. The postcards primarily concern geographical locations and landmarks in the United States and Western Europe, but also include materials from six other continents.
Scope and Contents:
The Blenkle Collection consists of 29 boxes of postcards, principally about geographical locations, landmarks, monuments and other buildings of interest around the world. The bulk of the cards are about the United States and Western Europe, but countries in 6 continents are represented. The earliest cards included date from the late 1880s and the latest card date from the mid-1970s. The cards are arranged in alphabetical order by state name, name of country, and then specific locations.
The collection is divided into four series:
Series 1 includes 16 boxes of cards about geographical locations within the United States. These cards are organized first by state in alphabetical order, secondly by city or place name (for example, Grand Canyon). Cities or locations with fewer than three postcards are arranged into general categories such as "Cities". Cards with no clear location are grouped by illustrated subject, such as "Winter Scenes."
Series 2 consists of 9 boxes of cards about places outside the United States. These cards are in alphabetical order by name Of country, and then by city, location or geographical name,also in alphabetical order. The names of countries are used as listed on the card. For example, most of the German cards appear to date from before the division into East and West Germany, consequently, the name is listed as Germany, with no regard for the location of a place between 1945 and 1990.
Series 3 consists of 4 boxes of cards organized by subject. These are the only cards without specific geographical locations.
Series 4 consists of 1 box of cards and letters written by Dr. Blenkle or what appear to be members of his family.
Divided into 3 series: (1) U.S.A., (2) Foreign (mostly Europe), (3) Subjects. Arranged geographically and alphabetically.
Biographical / Historical:
The Blenkle Collection of Postcards was collected by Dr. Victor A. Blenkle, who lived in New Jersey. Little was known about Dr. Blenkle until Ms. Lorraine Clemente, his great-niece, supplied biographical information in 2006. All relevant curators involved in this acquisition are now deceased. Through processing, some conclusions were reached based on evidence contained within the collection itself.
Victor A. Blenkle (born December 15, 1900; died April 15, 1978) was one of six children; his siblings were Ferdinand, Herbert, Albert, Helene, and Julius. His parents, Ferdinand and Bertha, probably emigrated to the United States from Germany in the 1890s (his father was born in 1871). Victor Blenkle practiced medicine in Teaneck, N.J., where he was affiliated with Holy Name Hospital; his wife's name was Elsie. Blenkle was active in medical organizations and was a founder of Family Practice of New Jersey. He served in both World Wars, attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel. Many of the postcards in this collection were from Blenkle's patients, as well as family members. (Ms. Lorraine Clemente, great-niece of Victor Blenkle, supplied biographical information in 2006.)
We do not know when Dr. Blenkle began collecting postcards, but cards sent to him or with what appears to be his handwriting begin in the 1920s. It seems as if Blenkle also either purchased or traded for collections that were originally owned by others. For example, within the overall Blenkle collection, there are three smaller groups of cards of earlier origin. Some of these include the earliest materials in the collection, dating from the late 1880s and 1890s. These three smaller groups include a group of cards sent to (and some sent by) a Reverend Leach in Noroton, Connecticut who was a Lutheran minister. He also apparently ran some kind of a Bible study by mail program and so received a number of cards from those interested in the Bible. Another group of cards sent to addresses in Elgin, Illinois and other related Midwestern locations by members of an extended family and some of their friends between about 1895 and 1910. A third set of cards includes smaller group of cards sent by a group of family and friends in Wisconsin, apparently centering on Milwaukee. All of these include messages written on front or back and postmarks.
Bequeathed to the Smithsonian Institution by Victor A. Blankle in 1977.
The collection is open for research use.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Photographs relating to various American Indian tribes and archeological sites in the American Southwest. The lantern slides in the collection appear to have been collected from multiple sources, and include a grouping that largely depicts dwellings (possibly collected by W. C. Peekhaus), another set focused on archeologiy and portraits of American Indians, a hand-colored Besseler slide of an American Indian bust wearing a headress, and a negative and positive transparency depicting Philippine people outside of a dwelling, possibly at the St. Louis exposition in 1904.
Local Call Number(s):
NAA Photo Lot 4995
See others in:
Photographs relating to American Indian dwellings and archeology, circa early 20th century
The collection is open for research.
Access to the collection requires an appointment.
Manuscript 4995, Photographs relating to American Indian dwellings and archeology, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
Restrictions pertaining to the use of these materials may apply (based on contracts/copyright). Access restrictions may also apply if viewing/listening copies are not currently available. Viewing/listening copies can be made for a fee. Contact reference staff for details