The Beatrice Medicine papers, 1913-2003 (bulk 1945-2003), document the professional life of Dr. Beatrice "Bea" Medicine (1923-2005), a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, anthropologist, scholar, educator, and Native rights activist. The collection also contains material collected by or given to Medicine to further her research and activism interests. Medicine, whose Lakota name was Hinsha Waste Agli Win, or "Returns Victorious with a Red Horse Woman," focused her research on a variety of topics affecting the Native American community: 1) mental health, 2) women's issues, 3) bilingual education, 4) alcohol and drug use, 5) ethno-methodologies and research needs of Native Americans, and 6) Children and identity issues. The collection represents Medicine's work as an educator for universities and colleges in the United States and in Canada, for which she taught Native American Studies courses. Additionally, because of the large amount of research material and Medicine's correspondence with elected U.S. officials and Native American leaders, and records from Medicine's involvement in Native American organizations, the collection serves to represent issues affecting Native Americans during the second half of the 20th century, and reflects what Native American leaders and organizations did to navigate and mitigate those issues. Collection materials include correspondence; committee, conference, and teaching material; ephemera; manuscripts and poetry; maps; notes; periodicals; photographs; training material; and transcripts.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of Beatrice Medicine reflect Medicine's interests as an academic and an activist, and contain correspondence, committee, conference, and teaching material, ephemera, manuscripts and poetry, maps, notes, periodicals, photographs, and training material (see series scope notes for further details on contents). The majority of the material is printed matter that Medicine collected, with less of her own work included. Taken together, the collection reflects issues affecting Native Americans during the second half of the 20th century, as well as the network of Native American leaders and organizations that navigated these issues. Student papers, letters of recommendation, evaluations, and documents containing personally identifiable information are restricted.
The collection is divided into 24 series:
Series 1: Native American Culture and History, 1954-1962, 1967-1975, 1978-1989, 1991-1997, 1999-2002
Series 2: Appropriations, Economics, and Labor, 1955, circa 1970-1980, 1988, 1993, circa 1995-2000
Series 3: Archaeology, 1935-1950, 1952-1973, 1987-1995
Series 4: Native American Artists, Authors, Crafts, Film, and Poets, 1951-1969, 1972-2002
Series 5: Census, Demographic, and Poll Data, 1974, 1984-1986
Series 6: Civil Rights, 1972, 1980, 1983-1997
Series 7: Committee Material: Correspondence, Meeting Minutes, and Memos, 1985-1995
Series 8: Conference Material, 1955-1962, 1965, 1968-1974, 1976-2002
Series 9: Correspondence, 1952, 1959, 1962, 1966-2000
Series 10: Education: Native American Institutions and Teaching Material, 1948-2002
Series 11: Ephemera: Campaign, Pow-Wow, and Other Event Buttons, and Calendars, 1973, 1976, circa 1980-2000
Series 12: Health: Alcohol and Drug Addiction and Recovery, Disabilities, Healthcare, Mental Health, Nutrition, and Wellness, 1955, 1965, 1969-1999, 2004
Series 13: Historic Preservation, 1942, 1956, 1960-1969, 1979, circa 1985-1998
Series 14: Invitations, 1966-1979, 1982, 1991-2002
Series 15: Linguistics: Native American Languages, 1961, 1963, 1975, 1978-1981, 1987-1995
Series 16: Manuscripts, 1964-2003
Series 17: Maps, 1982-1991
Series 18: Museum Material: Native American Museums, Exhibit Preparation, and the National Museum of the American Indian, 1949, 1962, circa 1976-1998
Series 19: Oversized Material, 1962, circa 1965-1996, 1999
Series 20: Published material: Journals, Magazines, Monographs, and Newsletters, 1914, 1932, 1944, 1946-1947, 1952-2003
Series 21: Reports, 1947-1949, 1956-1998
Series 22: Training Material, 1968, 1988-2000
Series 23: Women and Gender, 1962, 1965, circa 1970-1997
Series 24: Restricted Material, 1972, 1978, 1987-1999
Biographical / Historical:
A member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, Beatrice "Bea" Medicine—also known by her Lakota name Hinsha Waste Agli Win, or "Returns Victorious with a Red Horse Woman"—was born on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in Wakpala, South Dakota on August 1, 1923.
As a young adult, she studied at the South Dakota State University on the Laverne Noyes Scholarship, where she attained her B.A. in Anthropology in 1945. Between 1945 and 1951, Medicine worked a variety of teaching positions, including for three American Indian institutions (see Chronology for Medicine's complete work history). In 1951, Medicine went back to school and worked as a research assistant until she earned her master's degree in Sociology and Anthropology from Michigan State University in 1954. For the remainder of her life, Medicine served as faculty, visiting professor, and scholar-in-residence at thirty-one universities and colleges in the United States and Canada, teaching cultural and educational anthropology courses, as well as Native American Studies. As an educator, Medicine carried out her research on a variety of issues affecting Native American and First Nation communities, including: 1) mental health issues, 2) women's issues—professionalization, sterilization, socialization, and aging, 3) bilingual education, 4) alcohol and drug use and abuse, 5) ethno-methodologies and research needs, and 6) socialization of children and identity needs. Medicine's research in American Indian women's and children's issues, as well as her research in gender identity among the LGBT community was among the first to document the narratives of the members of these groups.
In 1974, Medicine testified alongside her cousin, Vine Deloria, Jr., as an expert witness in the Wounded Knee trial (United States v. Banks and Means). Following this, Medicine returned to school to pursue her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology, which she completed in 1983 at the University of Wisconsin. With her experience as a researcher, educator, activist, and Lakota woman, medicine sought to create more opportunities for multicultural and bilingual education for minority students, especially those of Native American descent. Such education, she believed, provided students a means to preserve and legitimize their own cultural identity, debase negative stereotyes, and be recognized as individuals who are capable of academic and economic achievement.
Medicine was an active member of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) and pursued her educational agenda further through the establishment of the Committee of Anthropologists in Primarily Minority Institutions (CAPMI) (1987-1995), which brought anthropologists out of retirement to teach at minority institutions. (See Chronology for a complete list of organizations and committees in which Medicine was involved.) The program was short-lived but provided a space for minority students to confront a field that historically misrepresented them, reclaim their narratives and languages, and instigate positive change as potential future anthropologists.
Medicine officially retired on August 1, 1989, but continued to be active in AAA and was honored many times for her contributions to the field of anthropology. Some of her recognitions include the Distinguished Service Award from AAA (1991) and the Bronislaw Malinowski Award from the Society for Applied Anthropology (1996). One of Medicine's highest honors, however, was serving as the Sacred Pipe Woman at the 1977 Sun Dance. Medicine continued her research into retirement, and went on to publish her first book in 2001, Learning to Be an Anthropologist and Remaining "Native": Selected Writings. Medicine died in Bismarck, North Dakota on December 19, 2005. Medicine's final work, Drinking and Sobriety Among the Lakota Sioux was published posthumously in 2006. In honor of her life's work and dedication to education, the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) created the Bea Medicine Award, a scholarship travel grant for students to attend the Annual Meeting of the SfAA.
Chronology: Beatrice Medicine
1923 August 1 -- Beatrice Medicine (also known by her Lakota name, Hinsha Waste Agli Win, or "Returns Victorious with a Red Horse Woman") is born on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in Wakpala, South Dakota.
1941-1945 -- Receives scholarship: Laverne Noyes Scholarship, South Dakota State University
1945 -- Receives Bachelor of Arts, Anthropology, South Dakota State University.
1945-1946 -- Teacher, Home Economics, Haskell Indian Institute (B.I.A.)
1947-1948 -- Health Education Lecturer, Michigan Tuberculosis Association
1948-1949 -- Teacher, Santo Domingo Pueblo, United Pueblos Agency, Albuquerque, New Mexico
1949-1950 -- Teacher, Navajo Adult Beginner's Program, Albuquerque Indian School
1950-1951 -- Teacher, Home Economics, Flandreau Indian School
1950-1954 -- Fellowship: Illinois Federation of Women's Clubs Fellowships
1951-1954 -- Research Assistant, Sociology and Anthropology, Michigan State University
1953-1954 -- Fellowship: John Hay Whitney Foundation Fellowship
1954 -- Receives Master of Arts, Sociology and Anthropology, Michigan State University. Fellowship: American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship
1954- -- Charter Member, American Indian Women's Service League
1955-1958 -- Teaching and Research Assistant, University of Washington
1956 -- Honor: Outstanding Alumna, South Dakota State University
1960 -- Mentioned as "Who's Who Among American Indians"
circa 1960 -- Alpha Kappa Delta, Sociology Hononary Phi Upsilon Omicron, Home Economic Honorary
1960-1963 -- Lecturer, Anthropology, University of British Columbia
1960-1964 -- Board of Directors, Native Urban Indian Centers in Vancouver, British Columbia and Calgary, Alberta
1963-1964 -- Lecturer/Sociology and Teacher/Counselor, Mount Royal College, Indian Affairs Branch Receives grant: American Council of Learned Societies Research Grant
1965 -- Lecturer, Social Science, Michigan State University
1966 -- Psychiatric Social Worker, Provincial Guidance Centre, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
1966-1967 -- Receives grant: Career Development Grant, National Institute of Mental Health
1966- -- Member, National Congress of American Indians (Education Issues)
1967 -- Receives grant: Ethnological Research Grant, National Museum of Canada
1967-1968 -- Lecturer, Sociology and Anthropology, University of Montana
1968 -- Teacher, "Cultural Enrichment Program," Standing Rock Indian Reservation, South Dakota Cited in "The Role of Racial Minorities in the United States," Seattle, Washington
1968 March -- Speaker: "The Pow-Wow as a Social Factor in the Northern Plains Ceremonialism," Montana Academy of Sciences
1968 May -- Speaker: "Patterns and Periphery of Plains Indian Pow-Wows," Central States Anthropological Society
1968 June -- Speaker: "Magic Among the Stoney Indians," Canadian Sociology and Anthropological Association, Calgary, Alberta
1968 August -- Speaker: "Magic Among the Stoney Indians," International Congress of Americanists, Stuttgart, German Speaker: "The Dynamics of a Dakota Indian Giveaway," International Congress of Americanists, Stuttgart, German
1968-1969 -- Director, American Indian Research, Oral History Project and Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of South Dakota
1968-1970 -- Consultant, Text Book Evaluation Committee, American Indians United
1969 -- Assistant Professor, Teacher Corps, University of Nebraska
1969 September -- Speaker: "The Red Man Yesterday," Governor's Interstate Indian Council, Wichita, Kansas
1969 December -- Speaker: "The Native American in Modern Society," Northwestern State College
1969-1970 -- Assistant Professor, San Francisco State University Speaker: "The Indian in Institutions of Higher Learning," Annual Conference, National Indian Education Association
1969-1975 -- Member, Editorial Board, American Indian Historical Society
1970 -- Mentioned for second time as "Who's Who Among American Indians" Steering Committee Member, Indian Ecumenical Convocation of North America Member, Planning Committee Indian Alcoholism and Drug Use
1970 August -- Speaker: "The Role of the White Indian Expert," 2nd Annual Conference, National Indian Education Association
1970 October -- Speaker: "The Ethnographic Study of Indian Women," Annual Convention, American Ethnohistorical Soceity
1970 November -- Speaker: "The Anthropologists as the Indian's Image Maker," Annual Meeting, American Anthropological Association Speaker: "The Anthropologist and Ethnic Studies Programs," Annual Meeting, American Anthropological Association
1970-1971 -- Associate Professor, Anthropology, San Francisco State University Member, Mayor's Committee on the Status of Women, San Francisco, California
1971 -- Member, Native American Scholars Board, Steering and Selection, American Indian Historical Society
1971 May -- Speaker: "Ethnic Studies and Native Americans," National Education Association
1971-1973 -- Pre-Doctoral Lecturer, Anthropology, University of Washington Consultant, American Indian Heritage Program
1972 -- Honored in "Potlatch" ceremony by Makah Tribal people at the National Indian Education Conference for contributions to Indian education Receives grant: American Council of Learned Societies Travel Grant, Americanist Annual Meeting, Rome, Italy Curriculum Advisor, Lakota Higher Education Center, Prine Ridge, South Dakota
1972 March -- Speaker: "Warrior Women Societies," Northwest Anthropological Conference
1972 April -- Chairperson and Speaker: "Racism and Ethnic Relations," Society for Applied Anthropology
1972 June -- Chairperson, Native American Studies Symposium, International Congress of Americanists, Mexico
1972 August -- Speaker: "Warrior Women of the Plains," International Congress of Americanists, Rome, Italy
1972 November -- Speaker: "Native Americans in the Modern World," Southwest Minnesota State College
1973 -- Expert Witness, Yvonne Wanro Trial, Spokane, Washington Member, Organization of American States, First Congress of Indigenous Women, Chiapas, Mexico Speaker: "Self-Direction in Sioux Education," American Anthropological Association Speaker: "North American Native Women: The Aspirations and Their Associations," presented as a Delegate to the Inter-American Commission on Indigenous Women, Chiapas, Mexico
1973-1974 -- Visiting Professor, Anthropology, Native American Studies Program, Dartmouth College
1973-1976 -- Member, Committee on Minorities in Anthropology, American Anthropological Association
1973- -- Consultant, Human Services Department, Sinte Gleska Community College
1974 -- Expert Witness, Wounded Knee Trial, Lincoln, Nebraska Speaker: "Indian Women's Roles: Traditional and Contemporary," Annual Meeting, American Anthropological Association
1974-1975 -- Visiting Professor, Anthropology, Colorado College
1975-1976 -- Visiting Associate Professor, Anthropology, Stanford University
1975-1977 -- Member, Steering Committee, Council of Anthropology and Education, American Anthropological Association
1976 -- Visiting Professor, Educational Anthropology, University of New Brunswick Expert Witness, Topsky Eagle Feathers Trial, Pocatello, Idaho Panelist, White House Conference on Ethnic Studies, Washington, D.C.
1977 -- Expert Witness, Greybull Grandchildren Custody Case, Portland, Oregon American Indian representative to the World Conference on Indigenous People, Geneva, Switzerland Honor: Outstanding Alumna, South Dakota State University
1977 August 18 -- Medicine serves as Sacred Pipe Woman at the Sun Dance, Green Grass, South Dakota
1977-1980 -- Education Consultant, National Congress of American Indians, Washington, D.C.
1978 -- Cited in the Directory of Significant 20th Century American Minority Women, Gaylord Professional Publications Biographical Sketch in "Moving Forward" of the Bookmark Reading Program, Third Edition
1978 August -- Speaker: "Issues in the Professionalization of Native American Women," Annual Meeting, American Psychological Association
1978-1982 -- Advanced Opportunity Fellow, Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
1979 -- Visiting Professor, Department of Education Policy Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison
1979 August -- Honorary Doctorate of Human Letters, Northern Michigan University Speaker: "The Dakota Indian Memorial Feast: Reservation and Urban Manifestations," International Congress of Americanists, Lima, Peru
1980 -- Member, Nominations Committee, American Anthropological Association Biographical Sketch in "Native American Indian Personalities, Historical and Contemporary," Dansville, New York: The Instructor Publications, Inc.
1981 -- Visiting Professor, Graduate School of Public Affairs, University of Washington-Seattle Speaker: "Linguistically Marginated: The Transformation of Dominated Speech Varieties," American Anthropological Association
1982 -- School of Social and Behavioral Science Academic Planning, California State University Speaker: "Policy Decisions: Federal Regulations and American Indian Identity Issues," Annual Meeting, American Anthropological Association
1982-1983 -- Anthropology Department Curriculum Committee, California State University
1982-1985 -- Associate Professor of Anthropology, Coordinator, Interdisciplinary Program in American Indian Studies, California State University Coordinator, Interdisciplinary Program in American Studies Program, California State University
1982- -- President, Assembly of California Indian Women
1983 -- Receives Ph.D., Cultural Anthropology, University of Wisconsin Expert Witness, Fortunate Eagle Trial, Reno, Nevada Award: Outstanding Woman of Color, National Institute of Women of Color, Washingtonton, D.C. (for anthropological contributions) Award: Outstanding Minority Researcher, American Educational Research Association Publishes book with Patricia Albers: The Hidden Half: Indian Women of the Northern Plains Honor: Significant Academic Book (The Hidden Half), Choice, Association of Colleges and Research Libraries, American Library Association
1983-1984 -- Student Affirmative Action Coordinating Council, California State University
1983-1986 -- Member, Executive Board, Southwest Anthropological Association Member, Governing Board, Common Cause
1984 -- Member, Advisory Board of National Research for Handicapped Native Americans, North Arizona University Scholarly Publications Award Selection Committee, California State University Award: Faculty Award for Meritorious Service, California State University Speaker: Field Work Methods: "Ties That Bond," Committee on the Status of Women in Anthropology," Annual Meeting, American Anthropological Association Speaker: "Career Patterns of American Indian Women," Council of Education and Anthropology, Annual Meeting, American Anthropological Association
1984 November -- Faculty Award for Meritorious Service, California State University
1984-1985 -- Participant, Chancellor's Office Grant to "Cross-Cultural Perspectives in the Social Sciences," California State University
1985 November -- Speaker: Conference on "The Native American: His Arts, His Culture, and His History," West Virginia State College
1985-1986 -- Board of Directors, Naechi Institute on Alcohol and Drug Education
1985-1988 -- Professor, Department of Anthropology and Director, Native Centre, University of Calgary
1985-1989 -- Member, Malinowski Awards Committee, Society for Applied Anthropology
1987 -- Honor: Outstanding Minority Professorship Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks Visiting Professor, University of Michigan
1987-1995 -- Member, Committee of Anthropologists in Primarily Minority Institutions, American Anthropological Association
1988 August 1 -- Medicine officially retires.
1989 -- Volunteer (Committee of Anthropologists in Primarily Minority Institutions, American Anthropological Association), Standing Rock College Honor (twice): Outstanding Minority Professorship Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks Visiting Professor, Wayne State University.
1990 -- Honor: "Outstanding Contributions for the promotion of sex equity in Education," Illinois State Board of Education Honor: Outstanding Lakota Woman, Standing Rock College
1991 -- Honor: Distinguished Service Award, American Anthropological Association. Medicine was the first American Indian to receive this award.
1991 -- Visiting Professor, Saskatchewan Indian Federal College Visiting Professor, Colorado College Visiting Professor, Anthropology, Humboldt State University
1992 -- Visiting Distinguished Professor, Women's Studies, University of Toronto
1993 -- Visiting Professor, Rural Sociology, South Dakota State University Award: Distinguished Native American Alumna Award, South Dakota State University
1993-1994 December -- Research Co-ordinator, Women's Perspectives, Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples
1994- -- Adjunct Professor, University of Alberta
1995 -- Scholar in Residence, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul Visiting Scholar, Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia Award: Ohana Award, Multi-Cultural Counseling Excellence, American Association of Counselors
1996 -- Award: Bronislaw Malinowski Award, Society for Applied Anthropology. Buckman Professor, Department of Human Ecology, University of Minnesota
circa 1997- -- Associate Professor of Anthropology Emeritus, Department of Anthropology, California State University
2001 -- Publishes book: Learning to Be an Anthropologist and Remaining "Native": Selected Writings.
2005 -- Award: George and Louise Spindler Award, Council on Anthropology and Education, American Anthropological Association.
2005 December 19 -- Medicine dies during emergency surgery in Bismarck, North Dakota.
2006 -- Book: Drinking and Sobriety Among the Lakota Sioux is published posthumously.
2008 -- The Society for Applied Anthropology creates the Bea Medicine Award.
The papers were donated to the National Anthropological Archives by Beatrice Medicine between 1997 and 2003, and by Ted Garner in 2006.
Materials relating to student grades, letters of recommendation, and evaluations have been restricted.
The Center for the Study of Man (CSM) was a bureau level division of the Smithsonian Institution. These records were maintained by the Program Coordinator, Samuel L. Stanley, and include correspondence, scholarly papers, transcripts, administrative materials, photgraphs, and audio recordings. The materials relate to conferences and programs in which CSM took part.
Scope and Contents:
The records are mainly those of by Program Coordinator Samuel L. Stanley, the CSM administrative officer, and the Institute for Immigration and Ethnic Studies. Especially well documented are several international CSM-sponsored conferences, including a planning meeting in Cairo in 1972, several pre-session conferences (on cannabis, alcohol, population, and the transmission of culture) at the Ninth International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences at Chicago in 1973, and a 1974 meeting at Bucharest on the cultural implications of population change. Other records relating to cross-cultural studies include those concerning an abortive attempt to issue a series of monographs and the organization of special task forces concerned with questions of human fertility and the environment. The records also include material about the action anthropology projects with Native Americans with which Stanley was directly concerned. These focused on economic development and include material relating to the coordination of studies of specific tribes carried out with funds from the Economic Development Administration and on Stanley's economic development consulting for the American Indian Policy Review Commission. In addition, there are a few files that Stanley created for general information and material relating to his earlier teaching career.
Although some materials concerning these programs are housekeeping records, many letters, notes, and statements concern policy and procedure. For some conferences, there are scholarly papers and transcripts. Many files, especially those of an informational nature, include considerable amounts of printed and processed material. The collection also contains the papers of Wesley White.
With some CSM programs, Stanley's relationship was apparently formal instead of directly active. There is, for example, little documentation among his records that relates to the CSM's film center and less about the immigration and ethnic studies among his materials. Most material pertinent to these units are among the administrative officer's records.
This collection is arranged in 39 series: (1) Ninth International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences; (2) Cannabis Project, 1973; (3) Cannabis Conference; (4) International Congress on Cultural Transmission; (5) Alcohol Conference, 1973; (6) Population Project; (7) Cross Cultural Monograph Project; (8) American Indians General; (9) Cairo Conference; (10) Folklife; (11) General Correspondence; (12) American Indian Policy Review Commission; (13) Meetings; (14) Census Materials; (15) EDA Grant; (16) Panajachel Conference; (17) Wes White Papers; (18) National Study of American Indian Education; (19) CA Teaching Cooperative; (20) Washington Conference, April 10-12, 1966 (urgent anthropology); (21) Electronic Data Processing Files; (22) Indian Voices; (23) Current Anthropology; (24) General Anthropology; (25) Action Anthropology / Film Archives; (26) Foxfire; (27) Monographs; (28) Cairo Conference - Anthropology Public Policy/Indians Tourism; (29) Smithsonian Office of Anthropology; (30) Correspondence/Job Applications/Resumes; (31) Indian Draft Reports; (32) Population Conference; (33) 1970 Census 20% Sample of Indian Population by County; (34) Index Cards; (35) Sam Stanley Papers; (36) Research Institute for Immigration and Ethnic Studies; (37) Administrative Officer Records; (38) Miscellaneous Correspondence, Reports, Publications; (39) Sound Recordings
The Center for the Study of Man (CSM) was established on July 1, 1968, as a bureau-level organization of the Smithsonian Institution. Its beginning was preluded by the appointment in 1965 of the Chicago-based anthropologist Sol Tax as special advisor in anthropology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian. Tax was to assist with the reorientation of anthropology at the Smithsonian and cooperation between him and the staff of the Smithsonian Office of Anthropology (now the Department of Anthropology) created several special programs, some of which were transferred to the center upon its inception.
Tax was CSM's first director. Samuel Leonard Stanley, formerly project coordinator for the Office of Anthropology, became the program coordinator for the center and was in charge of day-to-day operations. Priscilla Reining was appointed coordinator for urgent anthropology. In addition to such staff, CSM consisted of an advisory board (sometimes referred to as "members") drawn from the international community of anthropologists.
Essentially, CSM's concern was the application of anthropological knowledge to phenomena conceived as problems that confront mankind as a whole. It aimed to promote and coordinate study of these, mainly through the organization of special programs for meetings of established anthropological groups and by bringing together into special task forces researchers interested in the problems.
CSM also included several special programs. Although each of these had considerable independence, all can be seen as subsumed under its broad and ultimate purposes. Thus, the compilation of a computer-based directory of anthropologists and the compilation of bibliographies of anthropological literature were facilitative efforts.
An Urgent Anthropology Program, originally initiated in the Office of Anthropology following an international conference in Washington, D. C., in 1966, served to gather data essential to the more practical main purposes of the program as well as to produce studies of general anthropological interest. The support given such studies was in the form of small grants to allow field work in cultures that were rapidly changing under the pressure of modernization. Similarly, data were gathered and special studies carried out by the Research Institute on Immigration and Ethnic Studies (RIIES), added to the center in 1974 under the direction of Roy S. Bryce LaPorte, and the National Anthropological Film Center (NAFC), which was opened in 1975 and was incorporated in the center in 1977. An American Indian Program consisted of two parts: first, the compilation of a new multivolume Handbook of North American Indians under the general editorship of William C. Sturtevant was taken over from the Office of Anthropology and second, action anthropology projects were undertaken with various Native American groups.
Another goal of CSM was the establishment of a Museum of Man, which would host exhibits devoted to anthropology and ecology. However, due to internal disagreements over the aims of this museum, the project was never approved and fizzled out entirely in 1980.
CSM was one of several efforts of the Smithsonian to create research units to deal with broad problems of contemporary interest. Their success depended on two contingencies: first, funding would become available once the units were launched and, second, the traditional individualistic research of the Smithsonian staff could be continued or redirected--but somehow incorporated under the broad goals of the new units. When both assumptions proved difficult to realize, the new programs were terminated or limited. Thus, beginning in 1976, the center was slowly phased out.
In that year, Stanley was transferred from the center to the staff of the director of the National Museum of Natural History. In 1978, the Handbook of North American Indians was published, and the Handbook and Urgent Anthropology Programs were transferred to the museum's Department of Anthropology. CSM thus became composed only of RIIES and NAFC. In 1981, NAFC was divided: research, designated the Third World Film Center (or Research Film Center) was placed under one director and remained within CSM, and the archives, designated the Human Studies Film Archives (HSFA), was placed under another and was transferred to the Department of Anthropology. In 1982, HSFA was incorporated as a sibling of the National Anthropological Archives. The Third World Film Center was phased out in 1983.
Link, Adrianna Halina. "Salvaging a Record for Humankind: Urgent Anthropology at the Smithsonian Institution, 1964-1984." PhD diss., Johns Hopkins University, 2016.
1965 -- Sol Tax is appointed special advisor in anthropology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian
1966 -- The Urgent Anthropology Program is initiated by the Office of Anthropology
1968 -- The Center for the Study of Man (CSM) is established on July 1 The Urgent Anthropology Program is transferred to CSM The Handbook of North American Indians project is transferred to CSM CSM begins plans to build a Museum of Man
1973 -- The Research Institute on Immigration and Ethnic Studies (RIIES) is established within CSM
1975 -- The Smithsonian Institution receives funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) to create a film center for human behavior The National Anthropological Film Center (NAFC) opens on May 1 under the CSM umbrella
1976 -- The position of program coordinator of CSM is removed in January and Samuel Stanley is transferred to the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) CSM is placed under the authority of NMNH CSM devotes the bulk of its resources to completing the Handbook of North American Indians
1977 -- NAFC is incorporated in CSM
1978 -- The Handbook of North American Indians is published and the program is transferred back to the Department of Anthropology at NMNH Urgent Anthropology Program is transferred to the Department of Anthropology at NMNH
1980 -- The final attempt to create a Museum of Man fails
1981 -- NAFC is divided into the Human Studies Film Archive (HSFA) and the Third World Film Center (or Research Film Center) on October 1 The HSFA is joined with the National Anthropological Archives (NAA) The Third World Film Center remains within CSM
1982 -- RIIES is transferred to the Department of Anthropology at NMNH
1983 -- The Third World Film Center is phased out
The Center for the Study of Man records are open for research.
Access to the Center for the Study of Man records requires an appointment.
The papers of Aleš Hrdlička, curator in the Division of Physical Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, United States National Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, offer considerable insight into the development of physical anthropology in the first half of this century. The papers include honors bestowed on Hrdlička, autobiographical notes, correspondence with many of the leading anthropologists of the day, anthropometric and osteometric measurements and observations (forming most of the collection), extensive photographs of Hrdlička's field work, manuscripts, research materials, and "My Journeys" (essentially a diary Hrdlička kept of his field work). In addition, there is material of a personal nature. The papers date from 1875 to 1966, but the bulk of the materials date from 1903 to 1943, the time of Hrdlička's career at the USNM.
Scope and Contents:
This collection is comprised of both professional and personal materials. The professional material includes honors bestowed on Hrdlička, autobiographical notes, correspondence with many of the leading anthropologists of the day, anthropometric and osteometric measurements and observations (forming most of the collection), extensive photographs of Hrdlička's field work, manuscripts, research materials, and "My Journeys" (essentially a diary Hrdlička kept of his field work). The personal material primarily consists of correspondence with his first wife (Marie Dieudonnée Strickler) and other family members, but there are also financial records. The papers date from 1875 to 1966, but the bulk of the materials date from 1903 to 1943, the time of Hrdlička's career at the United States National Museum of the Smithsonian Institution. Hrdlička investigated all major questions confronting physical anthropologists of his day (the fossil record of early humans, the arrival of humans in the Americas, human variation, and evolution) and made valuable contributions in all these areas. Hrdlička's interests in the establishment of physical anthropology as a distinct and important field, the welfare of the Czech people, early hominids, and variation within the human species are all documented in the collection as are the services he performed for various United States government agencies. He pursued field studies in many different parts of the world, but there are relatively few field notes as such among his papers. There is instead the edited journal "My Journeys," photographs, and physical anthropological forms. There is also relatively little material on his administrative involvement in the USNM. There is no material from Hrdlička's time at the Pathological Institution of the New York State Hospitals; after he resigned, fire destroyed the anthropological records Hrdlička collected as a member of the staff. There are materials in the collection which contradict, or at least complicate, many long-held criticisms of Hrdlička, particularly claims that he was racist and opposed feminist ideas. The collection contains materials of interest to genetic research, including anthropometric measurements, hair clippings and fingerprints.
There are a few items in the collection which are dated earlier than the collection's date span. These are publication dates, and the folders containing the items have been dated accordingly, but they have not affected the dates of the series or collection. There are also a few items which are dated after Hrdlička's death. These dates reflect the fact that the collection was added to by the Department of Physical Anthropology after Hrdlička's death and have been taken into account when formulating dates for the series and collection.
Please note that the language and terminology used in this collection reflects the context and culture of the time of its creation. 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 in 37 series:
(1) Miscellaneous Personal Papers, 1875-1940
(2) Early Personal Correspondence, 1883-1919
(3) Correspondence, 1885-1953
(4) News Clippings and Printed Matter, 1893-1953
(5) Financial Papers, 1910-1943
(6) Journeys to the Southwestern United States and Mexican Indians, 1898-1919
(7) Journeys to the Dakota, Chippewa, Kickapoo, and Shawnee, 1916-1917
(11) Journey to Egypt, Europe, and Russia, 1908-1909
(12) Journey to South America, 1910, 1910-1912
(13) Journey to the Far East, 1920, 1900-1930
(14) Journey to Australia, Java, India, South Africa, and Europe, 1924-1925
(15) Anthropometric Measurements of Indians Taken at the United States National Museum, 1904-1905, most undated
(16) Bone Studies, 1893-1929, most undated
(17) Old Americans, 1914-1930
(18) Children Who Run on All Fours, 1928-1936
(19) Early Man Studies, 1906-1930
(20) European Ethnic History, 1908-1938
(21) Miscellaneous Research Notes, 1887-1930
(22) Manuscripts of Writings, 1901-1944, most undated
(23) Writings by Other Authors, 1877-1942
(24) Anthropometry, undated
(25) "From My Journeys", 1898-1938
(26) -- American Journal of Physical Anthropology -- , 1918-1931
(27) American Association of Physical Anthropologists, 1924-1931
(28) International Congress of Americanists, 1900-1928
(29) Institute of Population, 1942
(30) Department of Anthropology, 1914-1943
(31) Lecture Notes, 1920-1932
(32) Maps and Charts, 1900-1932
(33) Miscellany, 1895-1954
(34) Index Cards, 1899-1948
(35) Bibliographic Index, undated
(36) Physical Anthropology Folios, undated
(37) Photographs, 1887-1944
Aleš Hrdlička was born in Bohemia in 1869 and came to America when he was thirteen. As a young man, he was trained in medicine at New York's Eclectic Medical College and the New York Homeopathic Medical College, receiving degrees from each. His first professional work was as a private practitioner, but he gave that up in 1894 when he joined the staff of the New York State Hospital for the Insane at Middletown. There, in addition to other duties, he began studies of the physical characteristics of inmates. This set in motion developments that would eventually lead him to become one of the world's most prominent anthropologists who has sometimes been referred to as "the founder of physical anthropology in America."
In 1896, in preparation for a research appointment with the Department of Anthropology in the Pathological Institute of the New York State Hospitals, Hrdlička went to Paris and studied with Leon Manouvrier. After his return to America, he worked for a short period with the Pathological Institute and came into contact with G.S. Huntington of the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. Hrdlička arranged and studied Huntington's large collection of skeletal material, thus gaining knowledge of a well-documented collection representing largely normal persons of European ancestry. He came to the attention of Frederic Ward Putnam, of the American Museum of Natural History, who arranged for his first anthropological field studies.
It was thus that Hrdlička became a member of the Hyde Expeditions to the American Southwest and northern Mexico. In 1898, he traveled to Mexico with Carl Lumholtz to study the Tarahumaras, Huichols, and neighboring tribes. In subsequent years, he returned to Mexico and the Southwest alone and studied physical characteristics and medical conditions of several American Indian tribes. With this experience and examinations of the Trenton and Lansing skeletal material for Putnam, Hrdlička came fully into the world of anthropology. In 1903, he was appointed head of the newly formed Division of Physical Anthropology in the United States National Museum.
While in his position at the Smithsonian, Hrdlička returned to the Southwest for studies of Pima and Apache children in 1905 and, in the following year, traveled to Florida to examine allegedly ancient remains of man. In 1908, he worked among a number of Indian tribes, including the Menominee, Oglala Dakota, Quinailt, Hupa, and Mohave, in a study of tuberculosis among them. In 1909, he traveled to Egypt with an expedition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in order to study living Egyptians and to examine remains of Egypt's past population. The following year took him to Argentina, Peru, and Mexico. In the first of these, he again examined allegedly ancient remains of man. In Peru, he made a large collection of skeletal material near Trujillo, at Pachamac, and in the Chicama Valley.
From 1912-1914, Hrdlicka undertook a physical anthropological exhibit for the Panama-California Exposition in San Diego and, for this, traveled to eastern Siberia, Mongolia, Peru, and Florida. He also examined fossil remains of man in Europe and directed field work of other anthropologists in South and East Africa, St. Lawrence Island in Alaska, the Philippines, eastern Siberia, and the Ukraine. In 1915, for the Department of Justice, he assessed the racial makeup of Chippewas on the Leech Lake and White Earth reservations in Minnesota and also studied Dakota Indians. In 1917, his field work was directed toward white American families with longtime residence in the United States. In 1918, he carried out a survey of ancient sites in eastern Florida for the Bureau of American Ethnology. In 1920, he traveled to Hawaii, Japan, Korea, and Manchuria in connection with an appointment to lecture at the Peking Union Medical College. As director of the American School for Prehistoric Studies in France, he again studied fossil remains of man in Europe in 1922 and 1923. In 1925, he carried out work in India, Ceylon, Java, Australia, South Africa, and Europe. In 1927, he was again in Europe to deliver the Huxley Memorial Lecture before the Royal Anthropological Society in Great Britain. Between 1929 and 1938, he traveled frequently to Alaska to carry on an anthropological survey. In 1939, he traveled to Russia and Siberia.
Beginning with much of the skeletal collection of the Army Medical Museum, which had been transferred to the Smithsonian in 1898 before he was appointed there, Hrdlička amassed a bone collection that included, among many other specimens, the Huntington collection, casts of fossil remains of man, and a large and diverse North American collection. He also gathered a large collection of human brains. Over three hundred publications resulted from his study of this material, his field work, and his study of specimens in other museums. In addition, he was involved in many other activities. For United States government agencies, he provided services ranging from examinations of human remains for law enforcement officials to providing information and opinions concerning national origins and traits that were needed to interpret laws and form foreign policy. During World War II, he also advised government officials on policies to be pursued with certain national groups following the war.
In 1918, Hrdlička founded the American Journal of Physical Anthropology and remained its editor until 1942. In 1928, he was the major force behind the organization of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists and served as its president from 1928 to 1932. He was also president of the Anthropological Society of Washington in 1907, the American Anthroplogical Association from 1925 to 1927, and the Washington Academy of Sciences from 1928 to 1929. He was chairman of Section H of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1918 and secretary of the Committee on Anthropology of the National Research Council in 1917. In addition, Hrdlička was a member of the American Philosophical Society and the National Academy of Sciences. He represented the Smithsonian at several international gatherings of scholars, including meetings of the International Congress of Americanists.
1869 March 29 -- Alois Ferdinand Hrdlička (Aleš Hrdlička) born in Humpolec, Bohemia
1882 September -- Emigrated to New York City
1888 -- While stricken with typhoid, met M. Rosenbleuth, a physician who arranged for Hrdlička to enroll at the Eclectic Medical College of New York City
1892 -- Enrolled in the New York Homeopathic Medical College and Hospital Published first article, "Scheme of Examination (Medical)," Publications of the Eclectic Medical College Graduated first in his class from the Eclectic Medical College
1894 -- Graduated first from his class from the Homeopathic Medical College Became research intern at the State Homeopathic Hospital for the Insane in Middletown, New York, where he began his studies in physical anthropology Passed state board examination (allopathic)
1895 -- Joined staff of the Pathological Institute of the New York State Hospitals as associate in anthropology
1896 -- Studied anthropology under Leon Manouvrier in Paris
1896 August 6 -- Married Marie Stickler (Dieudonnée)
1898 March-July(?) -- Accompanied Carl Lumholtz on his expedition to northern Mexico, sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), and visited the Tarahumara, Huichol, and Tepecan Indians
1899 Spring -- Resigned from the Pathological Institute to take charge of physical and medical anthropological research on the Hyde Expeditions of the AMNH to the southwestern United States
1899 August -- Hyde expedition for the AMNH to Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, to excavate the site of Pueblo Bonito and to conduct somatological surveys among the Indians; visited Grand Gulch caves in southern Utah; included visits to the Navahos and southern Utes
1900 -- Hyde expedition for the AMNH to New Mexico, Arizona, and southern Colorado to conduct somatological surveys among the Indians; included visits to the Apaches, Yumas, and Pueblo Indians
1902 January-September -- Hyde expeditions for AMNH to southwestern Arizona, New Mexico, and northern Mexico to conduct somatological surveys; included visits to the Tepecanos, Papagos, Opatas, Pimas, Yaquis, Mayos, Huichols, Otomis, Tepehuanes, Maricopas, Yumas, Yavapais, Paiutes, Walapais, and Havasupais
1902 October-December -- Hyde expedition for the AMNH to Mexico for Hrdlička to complete his somatological investigations; included visits to the Tepehuanes, Coras, Huichols, "Nahuas," "Aztecs," and Tarascans
1903 May 1 -- Became assistant curator in charge of the new Division of Physical Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, at the United States National Museum, Smithsonian Institution
1905 -- Expedition under the auspices of the Bureau of American Ethnology to Arizona and New Mexico to complete the observations on the tribes of this region; Hrdlička especially studied Apache and Pima Indian children
1906 February -- Expedition to western Florida to investigate remains of alleged ancient man
1907 -- President of the Anthropological Society of Washington
1908 -- Expedition to Indian schools and reservations in Wisconsin, Washington, California, Arizona, and South Dakota to study tuberculosis for a report to the International Congress of Tuberculosis
1908 December - 1909 May -- Traveled to Egypt, Greece, Turkey, Hungary, Bohemia, Russia, Poland, and Germany to examine human skeletal remains from an excavation in Egypt by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and to study peoples of the Near East
1910 March 28 -- Promoted to curator in the Division of Physical Anthropology
1910 April-September -- Attended the 17th International Congress of Americanists in Buenos Aires and Mexico City Traveled to Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, and Panama
1912 -- Planned and directed seven expeditions for the physical anthropology exhibit at the Panama-California Exposition held at San Diego in 1915; expeditions included Hrdlička to Siberia and Mongolia and later to Peru; Riley D. Moore to St. Lawrence Island, Alaska; Philip Newton to the Philippine Islands; Vojtech Suk to Africa; Stanislaw Poniatowski to eastern Siberia; Kazimir Stolyhwo to the Birusa caves in Siberia and to the Ukraine; and Jindřich Matiegka to Bohemia
1912 May-Summer -- Traveled to London to attend 18th International Congress of Americanists Traveled to Siberia and Mongolia for the Panama-California Exposition
1912 September -- Traveled to Geneva for the 14th International Congress of Prehistoric Anthropology and Archaeology
1913 January-April -- Expedition to Peru as part the effort for the Panama-California Exposition
1914 November 18 - 1915 January 18 -- Attended Panama-California Exposition
1915 May -- Research for the Department of Justice at the White Earth and Leech Lake reservations in Minnesota to determine non-Indian mixture among Chippewas
1915 December -- Served as General Secretary for the 19th International Congress of Americanists held in Washington
1916 Fall -- Traveled to Florida to examine remains of supposed ancient man
1917 March-July -- Served as Secretary on the Committee on Anthropology of the National Research Council
1917 Summer -- "Old American" research at Yale University, Harvard University, and the University of Virginia and in Tennessee
1917 August -- Sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, traveled to Oklahoma to visit the Shawnee Agency in eastern Oklahoma and the Kickapoo Indians in McCloud to search for adequate samples of pure blood Indians
1918 -- Elected to the American Philosophical Society Served as Chairman of Section H of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Founded the American Journal of Physical Anthropology and became its long-time editor Surveyed prehistoric sites on the southwest coast of Florida
1918 October 8 -- Death of his wife Marie
1920 -- Anthropometry published by the Wistar Institute Elected an honorary fellow of the Royal Anthropological Society of Great Britain
1920 Summer -- Married Mina (Vilemina) Mansfield
1920 January-May -- Visited Japan, Korea, Manchuria, northern China, Mongolia, and Hawaii Lectured at Peking Union Medical College in China
1920 Fall -- Visited Minnesota Chippewa (at the White Earth Reservation?) to help the Department of Justice setter the question of mixed and pure bloods among the Chippewa
1921 -- Elected to the National Academy of Sciences
1922 -- Visited Spain, France, Germany, Moravia, and England Awarded honorary Sc.D. degree from the University of Prague Chairman of the American delegation to the 20th International Congress of Americanists in Rio de Janiero
1923 -- Served three and one-half months as Director of the American School in France for Prehistoric Studies Visited England, Holland, Belgium, France, Germany, Bohemia, Austria, Croatia, and Italy
1925 -- The Old Americans published by Williams and Wilkins Co.
1925 March-October -- Traveled to Australia, Java, India, South Africa, and Europe on a trip sponsored by the Buffalo [New York] Society of Natural Science to obtain cranial measurements of Australian aborigines and Tasmanians, to investigate the Rhodesian Man site in South Africa, to survey the field of early man, and to collect data to support his hypothesis about the peopling of the Earth
1925-1926 -- President of the American Anthropological Association
1926 -- Awarded honorary Sc.D. degree from University of Brno and D.Nat.Sc. degree from Brunn University
1926 May-September -- First fieldwork in Alaska: reconnaissance down the Yukon River to its mouth, around the Bering Sea and through the Bering Strait along the Alaskan coast to Point Barrow
1927 -- Received Huxley Memorial Medal and gave Huxley Lecture on "the Neanderthal Phase of Man" before the Royal Anthropological Society of Great Britain
1928 -- Helped found the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA)
1928-1929 -- President of the Washington Academy of Sciences
1928-1932 -- Served as first president of the AAPA
1929 -- Fieldwork in Alaska: surveyed the Yukon River from Tanana to its mouth, to St. Lawrence and the Diomede Islands, to Cape Prince of Wales, up to Point Barrow and back to Unalaska Awarded honorary Sc.D. degree from Charles University, Prague
1930 -- Published The Skeletal Remains of Early Man, Vol. 83 Smithsonian Miscellaneous collections Published "Anthropological Survey in Alaska," Forty-sixth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, pp. 21-374
1930 Summer -- Fieldwork in Alaska: surveyed the Kuskokwim River from Bethel down river to Apogak and up river to Stony River
1931 -- Children Who Run on All Fours published by McGraw-Hill Book Co.
1931 Summer -- Fieldwork in Alaska: excavated at Our (Jones) point site, trial excavations at Chief's Point and other sites, and a survey of Kodiak Island
1932 -- Kober Foundation lecturer of Georgetown University
1932 Summer -- Fieldwork in Alaska: excavated at Our (Jones) Point site, trial excavations at Chief's Point and other sites, and a survey of Kodiak Island
1934 Summer -- Fieldwork in Alaska: excavated at Our (Jones) Point site and surveyed Cooks Inlet sites and the mainland opposite the Our Point site
1935 Summer -- Fieldwork in Alaska: excavated at Our (Jones) Point site
1936 Summer -- Fieldwork in Alaska: excavated at Our (Jones) Point site and surveyed the Dutch Harbor caves, some of the Aleutian Islands, and the mummy cave on Kagamil Island
1937 Summer -- Fieldwork in Alaska: surveyed the Aleutian Islands and Commander Islands
1938 Summer -- Fieldwork in Alaska: surveyed the Aleutian Islands, Dutch Harbor caves, and Commander Islands
1939 April 4 -- Testimonial dinner given by the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in honor of his 70th birthday
1939 April-June -- Recuperated in London hospital after suffering a coronary occlusion
1942 March 31 -- Retired from curatorship at United States National Museum, becoming an associate in anthropology
1942 December -- Resigned as editor of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology
1943 -- Alaska Diary published by Cattell Press
1943 September 5 -- Died of heart attack
1944 -- Anthropology of Kodiak Island published by Wistar Institute
1945 -- The Aleutian and Commander Islands and Their Inhabitants published by Wistar Institute
1969 -- Tenth Anthropological Congress of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences dedicated to Hrdlička in the 100th anniversary year of his birth
1908 -- Hrdlička, Aleš. Physiological and Medical Observations Among the Indians of Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico. Bulletin 34, Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1908.
1912 -- Hrdlička, Aleš. Early Man in South America. Bulletin 52, Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1912.
1919 -- Hrdlička, Aleš. Physical Anthropology: Its Scope and Aims. Philadelphia: The Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology, 1919.
1920 -- Hrdlička, Aleš. Anthropometry. Philadelphia: The Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology, 1920.
1925 -- Hrdlička, Aleš. The Old Americans. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins Co., 1925.
1930 -- Hrdlička, Aleš. The Skeletal Remains of Early Man. Vol. 83, Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections. City of Washington: The Smithsonian Institution, 1930. Hrdlička, Aleš. Anthropological Survey in Alaska. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1930.
1931 -- Hrdlička, Aleš. Children Who Run on All Fours, and Other Animal-like Behaviors in the Human Child. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1931.
1943 -- Hrdlička, Aleš. Alaska Diary, 1926-1931. Lancaster, PA: The Jacques Cattell Press, 1943.
1944 -- Hrdlička, Aleš. Anthropology of Kodiak Island. Philadelphia: The Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology, 1944.
1945 -- Hrdlička, Aleš. The Aleutian and Commander Islands and Their Inhabitants. Philadelphia: The Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology, 1945.
Additional material in the National Anthropological Archives relating to Aleš Hrdlička can be found in the papers of William Louis Abbott, Henry Bascom Collins, Herbert William Krieger, and Frank Spencer; records of the American Anthropological Association, Bureau of American Ethnology, Department of Anthropology of the United States National Museum (National Museum of Natural History), Science Service, Anthropological Society of Washington, and the United States Army Medical Museum (anatomical section, records relating to specimens transferred to the Smithsonian Institution); and glass negatives of Indians collected by the Bureau of American Ethnology, Smithsonian Institution illustrations.
Additional related photographs can be found in Photo Lot 8, Division of Physical Anthropology collection; Photo Lot 9, Photographs of Indians for the Panama-California Exposition, San Diego; Photo Lot 24, Bureau of American Ethnology, United States National Museum photographs of American Indians; Photo Lot 70, Department of Anthropology portrait file; Photo Lot 78, Miscellaneous negatives; Photo Lot 97, Division of Ethnology collection ("USNM" Collection); Photo Lot 73-26B, Aleš Hrdlička photographs relating to the Panama-California Exhibition; Photo Lot 73-26G, Miscellany; Photo Lot 77-48, Group portraits of International Congress; Photo Lot 79-38, Division of World Archeology collection; Photo Lot 83-41, Division of Physical Anthropology collection of photographs of human bones; and Photo Lot 92-46, Anthropology lantern slides.
Related films can be found in the Human Studies Film Archive under the accession numbers HSFA 1982.2.1, 1982.2.2, 1986.12.1, and 2015.13.1.
Hrdlička's extensive collection of reprints is maintained in the Division of Physical Anthropology.
Frank Spencer's doctoral dissertation "Aleš Hrdlička, M.D., 1869-1943: A Chronicle of the Life and Work of an American Physical Anthropologist" (1979) is the only book length biography of Hrdlička. The Frank Spencer papers, 1836-1999, are available at the NAA and contain original correspondence between Hrdlička and his first wife, Marie Strickler; his childhood report card from 1869; copies of family photos obtained from Lucy Miller, Hrdlička's niece; and an audio recording of Hrdlička speaking at Wistar Institute.
Further material may be found in the Smithsonian Institution Archives.
Hrdlička bequeathed his papers to the Smithsonian Institution. The Division of Physical Anthropology maintained them until they were deposited in the National Anthropological Archives in the 1960s. Some papers have come into the collection since then, most recently in 2018. These new accretions came to the collection through Donald Ortner, David Hunt, T. Dale Stewart, the Department of Anthropology, and the University of Alaska.
The Aleš Hrdlička papers are open for research.
Access to the Aleš Hrdlička papers requires an appointment.
Records of the Mississippi Freedmen's Department ("Pre–Bureau Records"), Office of the Assistant Commissioner, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1863–1865
This collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on five rolls of microfilm described in the NARA publication M1914. These digital surrogates reproduced the records of the Freedmen's Department (Precursor to the Office of the Assistant Commissioner in the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands) for the period 1863–1865. These records consist of bound volumes and unbound records, containing materials that include letters sent and received, operations and ration reports, registers of freedmen, labor contracts, and other records relating to orders issued and received, hospitals, and schools.
These records consist of volumes and unbound records. The volumes reproduced in this publication were originally arranged by the Freedmen's Bureau by type of record and thereunder by volume number. No numbers were assigned to series consisting of single volumes. Years later, all volumes were assigned numbers by the Adjutant General's Office (AGO) of the War Department after the records came into its custody. In this publication, AGO numbers are shown in parentheses to aid in identifying the volumes. The National Archives assigned the volume numbers that are not in parentheses. In some volumes, particularly in indexes and alphabetical headings of registers, there are blank numbered pages that have not been filmed.
The volumes consist of letters sent and received, special orders issued and received, registers of freedmen contracts and rations issued, school lists, registers of patients, and hospital reports. The unbound documents consist of letters and circulars issued and received, oaths of allegiance and evidence of amnesty, reports of operations and abandoned property, and reports of teachers and missionaries serving in the areas.
Some of the volumes contain more than one type of record, reflecting a common recording practice of clerks and staff officers of that period. In Series 1 (1.6), for example, the volumes of registers of rations issued to freedmen and planters also contain a few special orders issued by the provost marshal general of freedmen. Another example of additional series within volumes can be found in the volumes of registers of patients on Series 2 (2.2.3). Researchers should read carefully the records descriptions and arrangements in the table of contents to make full use of these documents.
Biographical / Historical:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M1914.]
THE FREEDMEN'S BUREAU
The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, also known as the Freedmen's Bureau, was established in the War Department by an act of Congress on March 3, 1865 (13 Stat. 507). The life of the Bureau was extended twice by acts of July 16, 1866 (14 Stat. 173), and July 6, 1868 (15 Stat. 83). The Bureau was responsible for the supervision and management of all matters relating to refugees and freedmen, and of lands abandoned or seized during the Civil War. In May 1865, President Andrew Johnson appointed Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard as Commissioner of the Bureau, and Howard served in that position until June 30, 1872, when activities of the Bureau were terminated in accordance with an act of June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366). While a major part of the Bureau's early activities involved the supervision of abandoned and confiscated property, its mission was to provide relief and help freedmen become self–sufficient. Bureau officials issued rations and clothing, operated hospitals and refugee camps, and supervised labor contracts. In addition, the Bureau managed apprenticeship disputes and complaints, assisted benevolent societies in the establishment of schools, helped freedmen in legalizing marriages entered into during slavery, and provided transportation to refugees and freedmen who were attempting to reunite with their family or relocate to other parts of the country. The Bureau also helped black soldiers, sailors, and their heirs collect bounty claims, pensions, and back pay.
The act of March 3, 1865, authorized the appointment of Assistant Commissioners to aid the Commissioner in supervising the work of the Bureau in the former Confederate states, the border states, and the District of Columbia. While the work performed by Assistant Commissioners in each state was similar, the organizational structure of staff officers varied from state to state. At various times, the staff could consist of a superintendent of education, an assistant adjutant general, an assistant inspector general, a disbursing officer, a chief medical officer, a chief quartermaster, and a commissary of subsistence. Subordinate to these officers were the assistant superintendents or subassistant commissioners as they later became known, who commanded the subdistricts.
The Assistant Commissioner corresponded extensively with both his superior in the Washington Bureau headquarters and his subordinate officers in the subdistricts. Based upon reports submitted to him by the subassistant commissioners and other subordinate staff officers, he prepared reports that he sent to the Commissioner concerning Bureau activities in areas under his jurisdiction. The Assistant Commissioner also received letters from freedmen, local white citizens, state officials, and other non–Bureau personnel. These letters varied in nature from complaints to applications for jobs in the Bureau. Because the assistant adjutant general handled much of the mail for the Assistant Commissioner's office, it was often addressed to him instead of to the Assistant Commissioner.
In a circular issued by Commissioner Howard in July 1865, the Assistant Commissioners were instructed to designate one officer in each state to serve as "General Superintendents of Schools." These officials were to "take cognizance of all that is being done to educate refugees and freedmen, secure proper protection to schools and teachers, promote method and efficiency, correspond with the benevolent agencies which are supplying his field, and aid the Assistant Commissioner in making his required reports." In October 1865, a degree of centralized control was established over Bureau educational activities in the states when Rev. John W. Alvord was appointed Inspector of Finances and Schools. In January 1867, Alvord was divested of his financial responsibilities, and he was appointed General Superintendent of Education.
An act of Congress, approved July 25, 1868 (15 Stat. 193), ordered that the Commissioner of the Bureau "shall, on the first day of January next, cause the said bureau to be withdrawn from the several States within which said bureau has acted and its operation shall be discontinued." Consequently, in early 1869, with the exception of the superintendents of education and the claims agents, the Assistant Commissioners and their subordinate officers were withdrawn from the states.
For the next year and a half, the Bureau continued to pursue its education work and to process claims. In the summer of 1870, the superintendents of education were withdrawn from the states, and the headquarters staff was greatly reduced. From that time until the Bureau was abolished by an act of Congress approved June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366), effective June 30, 1872, the Bureau's functions related almost exclusively to the disposition of claims. The Bureau's records and remaining functions were then transferred to the Freedmen's Branch in the office of the Adjutant General. The records of this branch are among the Bureau's files.
THE FREEDMEN'S DEPARTMENT
In November 1862, the War Department appointed Col. John Eaton as general superintendent of contrabands in the Department of the Tennessee and the State of Arkansas. The Department's territory included the area from Cairo, Illinois, southward to the Mississippi Valley, including the cities of Memphis, Vicksburg, Natchez, and Little Rock, and the military posts of Columbus, Island 10, Corinth, Helena, Du Vall's Bluff, Pine Bluff, Fort Smith, Goodrich Landing, Milliken's Bend, and Davis Bend. In June 1863, Capt. Samuel Thomas was appointed assistant superintendent of contrabands under Colonel Eaton, for the Department in the area of Helena, Arkansas. Eaton's position and title were eventually changed to general superintendent of freedmen, and Thomas became the assistant superintendent of freedmen. When Col. Thomas assumed supervisory responsibilities for the provost marshals in various districts and posts, his title was changed to provost marshal of freedmen. The positions of both Eaton and Thomas, coupled with the office of the medical director, inspector of freedmen, and several freedmen's hospitals and homes, constituted the Freedmen's Department of the Department of the Tennessee. In November 1864, the Freedmen's Department became a part of the Department of Mississippi. By the summer of 1865, the functions and activities of the Freedmen's Department were assumed by the recently formed Freedmen's Bureau, so that the Department was the precursor of the Bureau's Office of the Assistant Commissioner for Mississippi.
The functions and activities in the Freedmen's Department were similar to those of the later Freedmen's Bureau. The Department assisted freedpeople in securing food, clothing, shelter, medicines and medical attention, employment, land, education, and help in a variety of social matters, including legalizing freedmen marriages.
When Col. John Eaton assumed the office of superintendent of contrabands for the Department of Tennessee in 1862, his responsibilities included providing for the physical welfare of freedmen and the supervision of confiscated and abandoned lands under military control. Faced with the enormous challenge of providing relief for the thousands of starved and destitute freedmen who had flocked to Union lines, and to encourage freedmen to become self–supporting, Eaton established "contraband" camps and put freedmen to work cutting wood, hauling, erecting cabins, and gathering crops from the abandoned fields. While freedmen in most cases were not paid directly for their labor, proceeds from their labor were used to provide them with food, clothing, shelter, and medicine. In December 1863, the War Department appointed D. O. McCord as medical director of freedmen for the Department of Tennessee and Arkansas. McCord found only eight surgeons and one hospital to care for the medical needs of freedmen. He enlarged the staff to 32 and provided medical services for nearly every camp in the department's jurisdiction.1 Medical assistance was provided for hospitals at Milliken's Bend, Louisiana; and Vicksburg, Goodrich's Landing, Pau Pau, Parks Camp, and Davis Bend, Mississippi.
In March 1863, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton sent Adj. Gen. Lorenzo Thomas to the Mississippi Valley to develop a program that would enable freedmen to become self–sufficient and provide "useful service" as laborers and soldiers. Gen. Thomas instituted a plan that called for the leasing of abandoned and confiscated plantations to private individuals who would agree to hire freedmen. Three commissioners were appointed to supervise the leasing, and with the help of assistant provost marshals, they settled disputes that arose between freedmen and lessees (planters). Contraband camps were to be continued but only as a place for the unemployed and a source for acquiring able–bodied laborers to work on plantations. Planters were responsible for providing food, clothing, and monthly wages for the persons they employed. Male hands were paid $7 per month, women $5, and children between the ages of 12 and 15 received half wages. Instead of paying ordinary rent, planters were required to the pay the Federal Government a produce tax that amounted to "two dollars for each four hundred pounds of cotton produced and five cents for every bushel of corn or potatoes." To protect freedmen and planters from the attacks of "guerillas," Gen. Thomas established a "colored invalid corps." Comprised of black men unsuited for field service but capable of other military duties, the 9th and 7th Regiments, Louisiana Volunteers (later the 63rd and 64th Regiments, U. S. Colored Troops), provided the means for maintaining law and order under martial law. Col. Eaton served as the commander of the 9th regiment, and Samuel Thomas was colonel of the 7th regiment.2
Gen. Thomas's agricultural plan was not without debate and controversy. Questions concerning the benefits of his plan toward the welfare of freedmen and whether the army was the appropriate agency to handle the leasing of plantations caused considerable friction among military and Treasury officials. Nevertheless, by the end of 1863, camps, leasing of plantations, and employment of freedmen was transferred from the army to the Treasury Department. Under Treasury regulations, "home farms" replaced contraband camps as employment centers and homes for those freedmen unsuited for plantation work. Home farms were located at Helena, AR, Goodrich's Landing and Milliken's Bend, LA; and Natchez, Skipwith's Landing, Vicksburg, and Davis Bend, MS. Planter's seeking laborers from home farms had to apply to Treasury officials, and all able–bodied freedmen above the age of 12 were required to work. Freedmen who lived and labored on government home farms and chose not to contract with planters, received food and clothing but were not paid for their labor. Plantation laborers however, received wages according to a classification system based on their value as laborers. For example, first–class males received $25 dollars per month and second– and third–class males received $20 and $15 dollars, respectively. First–, second–, and third–class females received $18, $14, and $13 dollars, respectively. Planters were responsible for providing laborers with sufficient housing, and families with four or more persons were to be provided one–acre plots (without cost) for gardens. Sharecropping contracts were allowed as long as they were approved by Treasury personnel. The Treasury plan also called for the establishment of schools and mandatory attendance of children between the ages of 6 and 12. Despite its reforms, the Treasury plan was short–lived, and by March 1864, Gen. Thomas had regained control of freedmen affairs.3 The issue over the management of freedmen affairs and abandoned lands was not resolved until the establishment of the Freedmen's Bureau.
While most freedmen in the Mississippi Valley worked as laborers in government camps and on privately run plantations, some freedmen managed to lease and rent farms from the Federal Government for their own use. With assistance from leasing officials and Treasury agents, black farmers in the valley increased from 250 in 1864 to nearly 500 by 1865, with the largest contingent in areas around Helena, AR, and Vicksburg, MS. Perhaps the most notable example of black independent farming was at Davis Bend, the home of Jefferson Davis and his brother Joseph. On March 28, 1864, Gen. Lorenzo Thomas, ordered that the three Davis estates "Hurricane," "Palmyra," and "Big Black," were to be "reserved for military purposes, and will exclusively be devoted to the colonization, residence and support of Freedmen." The army supplied mules, wagons, and other farming implements. Black lessees were responsible for paying for items supplied by the government after raising a crop. Gen. Thomas' order also required that all white persons had to leave the area before January 1, 1865, and were only to return with the written permission from government officials. By the end of the 1864 planting season, and despite the destruction caused by the army worm, some 180 black lessees managed to produce nearly 130 bales of cotton and made enough profit from other crops to sustain their operations through the following spring.4
Early efforts by the Freedmen's Department to provide educational assistance to freedmen were limited. Lack of funds, inadequate schoolhouses, and the virtual absence of secure housing for teachers, reduced the Department's role to one of providing advice on the location of schools and where teachers were needed most. The Department relied, for the most part, on the work of army chaplains and teachers and missionaries from such groups as the American Missionary Association, the Western Freedmen's Aid Commission, the Society of Friends, the Board of Missions of the United Presbyterian Church, the Reformed Presbyterians, the United Brethren in Christ, the North Western Freedmen's Aid Commission, and the National Freedmen's Relief Association. To aid their work, the Department supplied teachers with rations, quarters, transportation, and in a few instances, places to teach. Convinced that freedmen education would be more efficient and effective if it were placed under the authority of the Freedmen's Department, General Thomas directed the general superintendent of freedmen to designate "Superintendents of Colored Schools" who were to be responsible for the location and opening of schools, collection of tuition, the occupation of houses and schoolrooms, and other matters relating to the education of freedmen. Industrial schools were established to teach black women how to properly care for their families.5
To assist freedmen in solemnizing slave marriages and to encourage family relations, General Thomas, under Special Order Number 15 (March 28, 1864), announced that "Any ordained Minister of the Gospel, accredited by the General Superintendent of Freedmen, is hereby authorized to solemnize the rite of marriage among Freedmen." Marriage certificates and licenses were produced, and Chaplains and Missionaries were issued detailed instructions on when and how they should be used. Ministers who performed freedmen marriages were required to send "Returns" to post superintendents containing such data as ages of the couples, the color of the couple's parents, the number of years the couple lived with another person, how separated, number of children, and number of children by previous marriage. Marriage registers were maintained to identify couples, resolve matters relating to inheritance, and to assist in the settlement of claims against the Federal Government, especially those involving deceased black soldiers. Many of the freedmen seeking to legalize their unions had lived in long–standing relations.6
1 Paul S. Peirce, The Freedmen's Bureau: A Chapter in the History of Reconstruction (University of Iowa: 1904), p. 9; See also Report of the General Superintendent, Freedmen Department of the Tennessee and State of Arkansas for 1864 (Memphis, Tennessee, 1865), pp. 94 – 95.
2 George R. Bentley, A History of the Freedmen's Bureau (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1944), pp. 22 – 23; see also Louis S. Gerteis, From Contraband to Freedman: Federal Policy Toward Southern Blacks, 1861–1865 (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, Inc. 1973), pp.155 – 156.
3 For a discussion of freedmen's affairs and abandoned lands in the Mississippi Valley, see Gerteis, From Contraband to Freedman, pp. 119 – 181.
4 Ibid., pp. 169 – 181. See also, Report of the General Superintendent, Freedmen Department, pp. 40 – 41.
5 Report of the General Superintendent, Freedmen Department, pp. 80 – 87.
6 Ibid., pp. 88 – 94.
See also Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection
Acquired from FamilySearch International in 2015.
Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection, 1865–1872, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. Copyright for digital images is retained by the donor, FamilySearch International; permission for commercial use of the digital images may be requested from FamilySearch International, Intellectual Property Office, at: email@example.com.
The collection documents in photographs, scrapbooks, notebooks, correspondence, stock ledgers, annual reports, and financial records, the evolution of the telegraph, the development of the Western Union Telegraph Company, and the beginning of the communications revolution. The collection materials describe both the history of the company and of the telegraph industry in general, particularly its importance to the development of the technology in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The collection is useful for researchers interested in the development of technology, economic history, and the impact of technology on American social and cultural life.
Scope and Contents:
The collection is divided into twenty-six (26) series and consists of approximately 400 cubic feet. The collection documents in photographs, scrapbooks, notebooks, correspondence, stock ledgers, annual reports, and financial records, the evolution of the telegraph, the development of the Western Union Telegraph Company, and the beginning of the communications revolution. The collection materials describe both the history of the company and of the telegraph industry in general, particularly its importance to the development of the technology in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The collection is useful for researchers interested in the development of technology, economic history, and the impact of technology on American social and cultural life.
The collection is divided into twenty-six series.
Series 1: Historical and Background Information, 1851-1994
Series 2: Subsidiaries of Western Union, 1844-1986
Series 3: Executive Records, 1848-1987
Series 4: Presidential Letterbooks and Writings, 1865-1911
Series 5: Correspondence, 1837-1985
Series 6: Cyrus W. Field Papers, 1840-1892
Series 7: Secretary's Files, 1844-1987
Series 8: Financial Records, 1859-1995
Series 9: Legal Records, 1867-1968
Series 10: Railroad Records, 1854-1945
Series 11: Law Department Records, 1868-1979
Series 12: Patent Materials, 1840-1970
Series 13: Operating Records, 1868-1970s
Series 14: Westar VI-S, 1974, 1983-1986
Series 15: Engineering Department Records, 1874-1970
Series 16: Plant Department Records, 1867-1937, 1963
Series 17: Superintendent of Supplies Records, 1888-1948
Series 18: Employee/Personnel Records 1852-1985
Series 19: Public Relations Department Records, 1858-1980
Series 20: Western Union Museum, 1913-1971
Series 21: Maps, 1820-1964
Series 22: Telegrams, 1852-1960s
Series 23: Photographs, circa 1870-1980
Series 24: Scrapbooks, 1835-1956
Series 25: Notebooks, 1880-1942
Series 26: Audio Visual Materials, 1925-1994
Series 27: Materials for Interfile (Series 1; Series 3; Series 13; Series 15-23; Series 25-26)
Biographical / Historical:
In 1832 Samuel F. B. Morse, assisted by Alfred Vail, conceived of the idea for an electromechanical telegraph, which he called the "Recording Telegraph." This commercial application of electricity was made tangible by their construction of a crude working model in 1835-36. This instrument probably was never used outside of Professor Morse's rooms where it was, however, operated in a number of demonstrations. This original telegraph instrument was in the hands of the Western Union Telegraph Company and had been kept carefully over the years in a glass case. It was moved several times in New York as the Western Union headquarters building changed location over the years. The company presented it to the Smithsonian Institution in 1950.
The telegraph was further refined by Morse, Vail, and a colleague, Leonard Gale, into working mechanical form in 1837. In this year Morse filed a caveat for it at the U.S. Patent Office. Electricity, provided by Joseph Henry's 1836 "intensity batteries", was sent over a wire. The flow of electricity through the wire was interrupted for shorter or longer periods by holding down the key of the device. The resulting dots or dashes were recorded on a printer or could be interpreted orally. In 1838 Morse perfected his sending and receiving code and organized a corporation, making Vail and Gale his partners.
In 1843 Morse received funds from Congress to set-up a demonstration line between Washington and Baltimore. Unfortunately, Morse was not an astute businessman and had no practical plan for constructing a line. After an unsuccessful attempt at laying underground cables with Ezra Cornell, the inventor of a trench digger, Morse switched to the erection of telegraph poles and was more successful. On May 24, 1844, Morse, in the U.S. Supreme Court Chambers in Washington, sent by telegraph the oft-quoted message to his colleague Vail in Baltimore, "What hath God wrought!"
In 1845 Morse hired Andrew Jackson's former postmaster general, Amos Kendall, as his agent in locating potential buyers of the telegraph. Kendall realized the value of the device, and had little trouble convincing others of its potential for profit. By the spring he had attracted a small group of investors. They subscribed $15,000 and formed the Magnetic Telegraph Company. Many new telegraph companies were formed as Morse sold licenses wherever he could.
The first commercial telegraph line was completed between Washington, D.C., and New York City in the spring of 1846 by the Magnetic Telegraph Company. Shortly thereafter, F. O. J. Smith, one of the patent owners, built a line between New York City and Boston. Most of these early companies were licensed by owners of Samuel Morse patents. The Morse messages were sent and received in a code of dots and dashes.
At this time other telegraph systems based on rival technologies were being built. Some companies used the printing telegraph, a device invented by a Vermonter, Royal E. House, whose messages were printed on paper or tape in Roman letters. In 1848 a Scotch scientist, Alexander Bain, received his patents on a telegraph. These were but two of many competing and incompatible technologies that had developed. The result was confusion, inefficiency, and a rash of suits and counter suits.
By 1851 there were over fifty separate telegraph companies operating in the United States. This corporate cornucopia developed because the owners of the telegraph patents had been unsuccessful in convincing the United States and other governments of the invention's potential usefulness. In the private sector, the owners had difficulty convincing capitalists of the commercial value of the invention. This led to the owners' willingness to sell licenses to many purchasers who organized separate companies and then built independent telegraph lines in various sections of the country.
Hiram Sibley moved to Rochester, New York, in 1838 to pursue banking and real estate. Later he was elected sheriff of Monroe County. In Rochester he was introduced to Judge Samuel L. Selden who held the House Telegraph patent rights. In 1849 Selden and Sibley organized the New York State Printing Telegraph Company, but they found it hard to compete with the existing New York, Albany, and Buffalo Telegraph Company.
After this experience Selden suggested that instead of creating a new line, the two should try to acquire all the companies west of Buffalo and unite them into a single unified system. Selden secured an agency for the extension throughout the United States of the House system. In an effort to expand this line west, Judge Selden called on friends and the people in Rochester. This led, in April 1851, to the organization of a company and the filing in Albany of the Articles of Association for the "New York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company" (NYMVPTC), a company which later evolved into the Western Union Telegraph Company.
In 1854 there were two rival systems of the NYMVPTC in the West. These two systems consisted of thirteen separate companies. All the companies were using Morse patents in the five states north of the Ohio River. This created a struggle between three separate entities, leading to an unreliable and inefficient telegraph service. The owners of these rival companies eventually decided to invest their money elsewhere and arrangements were made for the NYMVPTC to purchase their interests.
Hiram Sibley recapitalized the company in 1854 under the same name and began a program of construction and acquisition. The most important takeover was carried out by Sibley when he negotiated the purchase of the Morse patent rights for the Midwest for $50,000 from Jeptha H. Wade and John J. Speed, without the knowledge of Ezra Cornell, their partner in the Erie and Michigan Telegraph Company (EMTC). With this acquisition Sibley proceeded to switch to the superior Morse system. He also hired Wade, a very capable manager, who became his protege and later his successor. After a bitter struggle Morse and Wade obtained the EMTC from Cornell in 1855, thus assuring dominance by the NYMVPTC in the Midwest. In 1856 the company name was changed to the "Western Union Telegraph Company," indicating the union of the Western lines into one compact system. In December, 1857, the Company paid stockholders their first dividend.
Between 1857 and 1861 similar consolidations of telegraph companies took place in other areas of the country so that most of the telegraph interests of the United States had merged into six systems. These were the American Telegraph Company (covering the Atlantic and some Gulf states), The Western Union Telegraph Company (covering states North of the Ohio River and parts of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Minnesota), the New York Albany and Buffalo Electro-Magnetic Telegraph Company (covering New York State), the Atlantic and Ohio Telegraph Company (covering Pennsylvania), the Illinois & Mississippi Telegraph Company (covering sections of Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois), and the New Orleans & Ohio Telegraph Company (covering the southern Mississippi Valley and the Southwest). All these companies worked together in a mutually friendly alliance, and other small companies cooperated with the six systems, particularly some on the West Coast.
By the time of the Civil War, there was a strong commercial incentive to construct a telegraph line across the western plains to link the two coasts of America. Many companies, however, believed the line would be impossible to build and maintain.
In 1860 Congress passed, and President James Buchanan signed, the Pacific Telegraph Act, which authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to seek bids for a project to construct a transcontinental line. When two bidders dropped out, Hiram Sibley, representing Western Union, was the only bidder left. By default Sibley won the contract. The Pacific Telegraph Company was organized for the purpose of building the eastern section of the line. Sibley sent Wade to California, where he consolidated the small local companies into the California State Telegraph Company. This entity then organized the Overland Telegraph Company, which handled construction eastward from Carson City, Nevada, joining the existing California lines, to Salt Lake City, Utah. Sibley's Pacific Telegraph Company built westward from Omaha, Nebraska. Sibley put most of his resources into the venture. The line was completed in October, 1861. Both companies were soon merged into Western Union. This accomplishment made Hiram Sibley leader of the telegraph industry.
Further consolidations took place over the next several years. Many companies merged into the American Telegraph Company. With the expiration of the Morse patents, several organizations were combined in 1864 under the name of "The U.S. Telegraph Company." In 1866 the final consolidation took place, with Western Union exchanging stock for the stock of the other two organizations. The general office of Western Union moved at this time from Rochester to 145 Broadway, New York City. In 1875 the main office moved to 195 Broadway, where it remained until 1930 when it relocated to 60 Hudson Street.
In 1873 Western Union purchased a majority of shares in the International Ocean Telegraph Company. This was an important move because it marked Western Union's entry into the foreign telegraph market. Having previously worked with foreign companies, Western Union now began competing for overseas business.
In the late 1870s Western Union, led by William H. Vanderbilt, attempted to wrest control of the major telephone patents, and the new telephone industry, away from the Bell Telephone Company. But due to new Bell leadership and a subsequent hostile takeover attempt of Western Union by Jay Gould, Western Union discontinued its fight and Bell Telephone prevailed.
Despite these corporate calisthenics, Western Union remained in the public eye. The sight of a uniformed Western Union messenger boy was familiar in small towns and big cities all over the country for many years. Some of Western Union's top officials in fact began their careers as messenger boys.
Throughout the remainder of the nineteenth century the telegraph became one of the most important factors in the development of social and commercial life of America. In spite of improvements to the telegraph, however, two new inventions--the telephone (nineteenth century) and the radio (twentieth century)--eventually replaced the telegraph as the leaders of the communication revolution for most Americans.
At the turn of the century, Bell abandoned its struggles to maintain a monopoly through patent suits, and entered into direct competition with the many independent telephone companies. Around this time, the company adopted its new name, the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T).
In 1908 AT&T gained control of Western Union. This proved beneficial to Western Union, because the companies were able to share lines when needed, and it became possible to order telegrams by telephone. However, it was only possible to order Western Union telegrams, and this hurt the business of Western Union's main competitor, the Postal Telegraph Company. In 1913, however, as part of a move to prevent the government from invoking antitrust laws, AT&T completely separated itself from Western Union.
Western Union continued to prosper and it received commendations from the U.S. armed forces for service during both world wars. In 1945 Western Union finally merged with its longtime rival, the Postal Telegraph Company. As part of that merger, Western Union agreed to separate domestic and foreign business. In 1963 Western Union International Incorporated, a private company completely separate from the Western Union Telegraph Company, was formed and an agreement with the Postal Telegraph Company was completed. In 1994, Western Union Financial Services, Inc. was acquired by First Financial Management Corporation. In 1995, First Financial Management Corporation merged with First Data Corporation making Western Union a First Data subsidiary.
Many technological advancements followed the telegraph's development. The following are among the more important:
The first advancement of the telegraph occurred around 1850 when operators realized that the clicks of the recording instrument portrayed a sound pattern, understandable by the operators as dots and dashes. This allowed the operator to hear the message by ear and simultaneously write it down. This ability transformed the telegraph into a versatile and speedy system.
Duplex Telegraphy, 1871-72, was invented by the president of the Franklin Telegraph Company. Unable to sell his invention to his own company, he found a willing buyer in Western Union. Utilizing this invention, two messages were sent over the wire simultaneously, one in each direction.
As business blossomed and demand surged, new devices appeared. Thomas Edison's Quadruplex allowed four messages to be sent over the same wire simultaneously, two in one direction and two in the other.
An English automatic signaling arrangement, Wheatstone's Automatic Telegraph, 1883, allowed larger numbers of words to be transmitted over a wire at once. It could only be used advantageously, however, on circuits where there was a heavy volume of business.
Buckingham's Machine Telegraph was an improvement on the House system. It printed received messages in plain Roman letters quickly and legibly on a message blank, ready for delivery.
Vibroplex, c. 1890, a semi-automatic key sometimes called a "bug key," made the dots automatically. This relieved the operator of much physical strain.
Materials in the Archives Center
Additional moving image about Western Union Telegraph Company can be found in the Industry on Parade Collection (AC0507). This includes Cable to Cuba! by Bell Laboratory, AT & T, featuring the cable ship, the C.S. Lord Kelvin, and Communications Centennial! by the Western Union Company.
Materials at Other Organizations
Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, Delaware.
Western Union International Records form part of the MCI International, Inc. Records at the First Data Corporation, Greenwood Village, Colorado.
Records of First Data Corporation and its predecessors, including Western Union, First Financial Management Corporation (Atlanta) and First Data Resources (Omaha). Western Union collection supports research of telegraphy and related technologies, and includes company records, annual reports, photographs, print and broadcast advertising, telegraph equipment, and messenger uniforms.
Smithsonian Institution Archives
Western Union Telegraph Expedition, 1865-1867
This collection includes correspondence, mostly to Spencer F. Baird, from members of the Scientific Corps of the Western Union Telegraph Expedition, including Kennicott, Dall, Bannister, and Elliott; copies of reports submitted to divisional chiefs from expedition staff members; newspaper clippings concerning the expedition; copies of notes on natural history taken by Robert Kennicott; and a journal containing meteorological data recorded by Henry M. Bannister from March to August, 1866.
Artifacts (apparatus and equipment) were donated to the Division of Information Technology and Society, now known as the Division of Work & Industry, National Museum of American History.
The collection was donated by Western Union in September of 1971.
Collection is open for research.
Gloves must be worn when handling unprotected photographs and negatives. Special arrangements must be made to view some of the audio visual materials. Contact the Archives Center at 202-633-3270.
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.