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
Typed transcript of Gibbs' notes and comments on them by Catherine Callaghan filed with the Manuscript, 6/1962. Notes on the names of the tribes mentioned by Gibbs made by A.R. Pilling and filed with the Manuscript, 8/1970.
NAA MS 857-c
Manuscript 857-c, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
Photograph depicting Laura Fish Somersal, a Wappo basket weaver. The photograph was made in Sonoma County, California, on July 28, 1982.
According to photographer Ralph Shanks, Laura Fish Somersal was the "last Wappo speaker" as well as a basket-maker who used traditional Wappo materials and technique. She was also an informant for Jesse O. Sawyer's English-Wappo dictionary, published by the University of California, Berkeley.
Local Call Number(s):
NAA Photo Lot 82-69
Location of Other Archival Materials:
The Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley holds additional Ralph Shanks photographs, baskets that he collected, and information on Laura Somersal collected by Jesse O. Sawyer.
The Oakland Museum of California holds baskets collected by Shanks.