The collection consists of photographs relating to Native Americans, which were submitted to the copyright office of the Library of Congress in and around the early 20th century. Many of the photographs are studio portraits as well as photographs made as part of expeditions and railroad surveys. It includes images of people, dwellings and other structures, agriculture, arts and crafts, burials, ceremonies and dances, games, food preparation, transportation, and scenic views. Some of the photographs were posed to illustrate literary works, including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Hiawatha, while others depict paintings or other artwork.
Collection is organized alphabetically by copyright claimant.
The collection was formed from submissions made to the Library of Congress as part of the copyright registration process. In 1949, arrangements were made to allow the Bureau of American Ethnology to copy the collection and some negatives were made at that time, largely from the Heyn and Matzen photographs. The project was soon abandoned, however, as too large an undertaking for the facilities of the BAE. In 1957-1958, arrangements were begun by William C. Sturtevant of the BAE to transfer a set of the photographs from the Library of Congress to the BAE.
Local Call Number(s):
NAA Photo Lot 59
In 1965, the Bureau merged with the Smithsonian's Department of Anthropology to form the Smithsonian Office of Anthropology, and in 1968 the Office of Anthropology Archives transformed into the National Anthropological Archives.
The collection is open for research.
Access to the collection requires an appointment.
Photo Lot 59, Library of Congress Copyright Office photograph collection of Native Americans, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
Northern Cheyenne Tribe of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, Montana
Rosebud County (Mont.)
Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma
Glacier National Park (Mont.)
Lame Deer (Mont.)
Washita County (Okla.)
The core of this photographic collection (1902-1904) was taken during Grinnell's visits among the Northern (Montana, Rosebud County and Rosebud River, Lame Deer) and Southern (Washita County, Oklahoma) Tsitsistas/Suhtai (Cheyenne). The photographs document domestic and daily life on the reservation (especially activies involving women), religious ceremonies, camps and dwellings, and important officials. The attributions of the photographs in this collection are far from certain. While many of these images appear to have been taken by Grinnell himself, a substantial portion were also taken by his wife Elizabeth Curtis Grinnell (b. 1876) and their friend Julia E. Tuell. A very small subset of these images (3) also depicts mountains and vistas in Glacier National Park (Flathead County, Glacier County) Montana.
negatives: organized in 6 boxes; arranged numerically by image number
George Bird Grinnell, naturalist, conservationist and Indian rights activist, was born into a prominent family in Brooklyn, New York. He attended Yale University, receiving his B.A. in 1870 and a Ph.D. in paleontology in 1880. While at Yale, Grinnell participated in a paleontological expedition to the central Plains, Wyoming and Utah. In 1874 he served as naturalist and paleontologist in Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer's Black Hills expedition and, in 1875, was a member of William Ludlow's expedition surveying the Yellowstone. In 1899 Grinnell was a naturalist on Edward H. Harriman Expedition to Alaska. Grinnell's lifelong interest in the west was well established long before he left Yale. In 1876, four years before he earned his Ph.D., Grinnell became the editor-in-chief and soon-to-be owner of Forest and Stream magazine. Under his leadership, it became the country's foremost natural history magazine. Grinnell was the magazine's editor from 1876 until 1911, and he used its pages to help promote the creation of national parks. Grinnell played a pivotal role in the creation of Glacier National Park in 1910.
Grinnell's interest in the west extended to its native inhabitants. He was deeply interested in Plains Indians and, year after year, spent his summers visiting different reservations. He had befriended Frank North and his Pawnee scouts, and accompanied them on buffalo and elk hunts. Grinnell witnessed the destruction of game animals, brought about by commercial hunters, and was cognizant of its impact on Plains Indians' way of life. Grinnell, a prolific writer, authored several books and many articles on Cheyenne, Blackfoot, and Pawnee Indians, the most well-know of which was the two volume work entitled "The Cheyenne Indians: Their History and Way of Life," first published in 1923. Until his death, he remained a staunch supporter of Cheyenne rights.
Grinnell was a founding member of both the Audubon Society and Boone and Crockett Club (with Theodore Roosevelt). He chaired the Council on National Parks, Forests and Wildlife, and was president of the National Parks Association. He was a trustee of the New York Zoological Society. Grinnell was also a prominent member of many other associations, such as the American Association of the Advancement of Science and New York Academy of Science. Grinnell was 89 years old when he died in New York City.
Location of Other Archival Materials Note:
See manuscript items in the Museum of the American Indian/Heye Foundation records at the NMAI Archive Center. See also the George Bird Grinnell photograph collection at the Braun Research Library, Southwest Museum, Autry National Center in Los Angeles.
Researchers must contact the NMAI Archives for an appointment to access the collection.