The bulk of the collection consists of portraits of identified American Indians and some government officials and interpreters. It includes cabinet cards, other mounted prints, newspaper articles, illustrations, and a photographic postcard. Depicted individuals include American Horse, Oglala; Black Hawk, Sauk; Bob Tail, Cheyenne; Crowfoot, Hunkpapa; Gaul, Hunkpapa; Geronimo, Chiricahua; John Grass, Teton; Chief Joseph, Nez Perce; Little Wound, Oglala; Medicine Bull, Hunkpapa; Osceola, Seminole; Ouray, Ute; Litte Raven, Arapaho; Plenty Coups, Crow; Pocahontas, Powhatan; Rain in the Face, Hunkpapa; Red Cloud, Oglala; Red Iron, Dakota; Short Man, Piegan; Sitting Bull, Hunkpapa; Standing On Prairie, Siouan; Thayendanegea (Joseph Brant), Mohawk; Two Guns White Calf, Piegan; Two Moon, Cheyenne; and Washakie, Shoshoni.
Local Call Number(s):
NAA Photo Lot 87-2P
Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology photograph collections, undated
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United States National Museum Department of Anthropology photograph collection of American Indians, undated
The collection is open for research.
Access to the collection requires an appointment.
Photo lot 87-2P, United States National Museum Department of Anthropology photograph collection of American Indians, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
Alexander Gardner (1821-1882) was a photographer best known for his portraits of President Abraham Lincoln, his American Civil War photographs, and his photographs of American Indian delegations. This collection contains 61 albumen prints that were shot by Gardner circa 1866-1868 and held in General William T. Sherman's personal collection. Photographs depict American Indian tribes and Peace Commissioners involved in the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty; photographs shot along the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division in 1867; and photographs of American Indian delegations visiting Washington, D. C. from 1866-1868.
Scope and Contents:
This collection contains 61 albumen prints that were shot by photographer Alexander Gardner circa 1866-1868 and held in General William T. Sherman's personal collection. Among the photographs are depictions that were shot in and around Fort Laramie, Wyoming during the 1868 peace treaty negotiations between the U.S. Government and tribal leaders from several American Indian Northern Plains tribes including Lakota (Teton/Western Sioux), Apsáalooke (Crow/Absaroke), Northern Tsitsistas (Northern Cheyenne), and Northern Inunaina (Northern Arapaho); survey photographs shot in Kansas in 1867 for the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division (later renamed the Kansas Pacific Railway); and portraits of American Indian delegates in Washington, D.C. including Dakota (Eastern Sioux), Kaw (Kansa), Lakota (Teton/Western Sioux), and Sac and Fox (Sauk & Fox) tribes, 1866-1868. Some of the photographs in this collection, particularly those in Series 2, may have been shot by photographers working with Gardner such as Dr. William A. Bell (1841-1921), William Redish Pywell, and Lawrence Gardner (Alexander Gardner's son).
This collection is intellectually arranged in three series. Series 1: Fort Laramie, Wyoming, Series 2: Kansas Pacific Railroad, Series 3: Portraits of American Indian delegates, Washington, D.C.
The photographs are physically arranged in eight boxes according to the following: size, conservation work, and series. Within each box they are arranged by photo number. The photographs in boxes 1-4 had conservation work performed by a photo conservator in 2014.
Biographical / Historical:
Alexander Gardner (1821-1882) was a photographer best known for his portraits of President Abraham Lincoln, his American Civil War photographs, and his photographs of American Indian delegations.
Gardner was born in Paisley, Scotland on October 17, 1821 to James Gardner and Jean Glenn. He worked in a number of positions including as a jeweler, journalist, and editor before entering the field of photography circa 1855.
In 1856, Gardner immigrated to the United States with his wife Margaret Sinclair Gardner, his son Lawrence Gardner, and his daughter Eliza Gardner and later that year he began working as a photographer in Mathew Brady's gallery in New York. While working for Brady, it is thought that Gardner invented the "imperial print," a large photograph printed on approximately 21 x 17 inch paper that was often enhanced with hand-coloring and ink. Wealthy politicians and businessmen were among the clients who sat for their photographic portraits in the Brady studio and paid as much as $50- $500 per imperial print (today the equivalent of about $1,000 to 10,000).
By 1858, Gardner was managing Brady's gallery at 352 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. When the U.S. Civil War broke out in 1861, Gardner was part of Brady's photography team that documented battle aftermaths and military campsites for the Union. Gardner left the Brady studio circa late 1862 and established his own studio in Washington, D.C. where he continued photographing the war along with his brother James Gardner, and other former Brady photographers including Timothy O'Sullivan.
During the war he documented the remnants of important battle scenes including the Battle of Antietam (1862) and the Battle of Gettysburg (1863). Gardner published 100 of his Civil War images in the publication Gardner's Photographic Sketchbook of the War. The two volume work included photographs shot by additional photographers including O'Sullivan and John Reekie.
In addition to war photography, Gardner was also a portrait photographer and photographed many civilians, soldiers, and politicians in Washington, D.C. Between the years 1861-1865, Gardner photographed President Abraham Lincoln on seven different occasions, including both inaugurations, as well as studio portrait sittings. On July 7, 1865, Gardner was the only photographer allowed to photograph the execution of four conspirators in the President Lincoln assassination.
In 1866, Gardner along with Antonio Zeno Shindler and Julian Vannerson were contracted to photograph portraits of American Indian delegates visiting Washington, D.C. Between the years 1866 to 1868, Gardner photographed many tribes in his studio including Iowa, Sac and Fox, Kaw (Kansa), Dakota, and Lakota. In 1868, Gardner was hired by the U.S. Government to serve as photographer for the peace talks that took place in Fort Laramie, Wyoming. During this trip, Gardner photographed the Lakota (Sioux), Apsáalooke (Crow/Absaroke), Northern Tsitsistas (Northern Cheyenne), and Northern Inunaina (Northern Arapaho) tribes. Among the government officials at Fort Laramie that Gardner photographed was General William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891). Sherman served as a General for the Union Army during the Civil War and later in 1869 became the Commanding General of the U.S. Army under President Ulysses Grant's administration. A member of the Peace Commission established in 1867, Sherman traveled to negotiate treaties with American Indian Plains tribes.
Upon returning to Washington, D.C., Gardner published a set of his Fort Laramie photographs in the publication, Scenes in Indian Country. Members of the Peace Commission were given photo portfolios and it is believed that the photos in this collection may have been from General Sherman's personal set. Gardner went on to become the official photographer for the Office of Indian Affairs in 1872.
In his later years, Gardner also was involved in philanthropic causes, such as helping to establish the Masonic Mutual Relief Association which aided widows and orphans of Master Masons. He also founded the Saint John's Mite Association which provided aid to the poor in Washington, D.C.
Alexander Gardner died in Washington, D.C. in 1882.
Alexander Gardner photographs are housed in many archival and museum repositories. Photographs from the Scenes in Indian Country series are also held in the Newberry Library in Chicago, the Missouri Historical Society, the Minnesota Historical Society, and the St. Louis Mercantile Library in Missouri.
The photographs in this collection were originally owned by General William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891) and may have been part of a portfolio of photographs that Alexander Gardner gifted to Sherman and other Fort Laramie Treaty peace commissioners. Photographs were then donated to the Museum of the American Indian (MAI) by Sherman's son P(hilemon) Tecumseh Sherman (1867-1941) in May 1932 and by Sherman's granddaughter Eleanor Sherman Fitch (1876-1959) in March 1942.
Access to NMAI Archive Center collections is by appointment only, Monday - Thursday, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm. Please contact the archives to make an appointment (phone: 301-238-1400, email: email@example.com).
Some images restricted: Cultural Sensitivity
Permission to publish or broadcast materials from the collection must be requested from National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center. Please submit a written request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); William T. Sherman collection of Alexander Gardner photographs, P#####; National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center, Smithsonian Institution.
Photographs depicting camps and scenery during July 4th observances in 1912 at Bullhead, Standing Rock Reservation, South Dakota. Handwriting on the photographs' versos is probably that of Frances Densmore.
Frances Densmore (1867-1957) was born in Red Wing, Minnesota, and educated at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music (1884-1886). She taught music in St. Paul until 1889, when she moved to Boston to study with composers at Harvard University. Soon thereafter, Densmore became interested in American Indian music and she did her first field studies with the Ojibwa Indians in Minnesota in 1905. She became associated with the Bureau of American Ethnology in 1907, which helped fund her trips to record music, collect musical insturments, and make photographs documenting tribes across the United States. Densmore stayed with the Bureau for fifty years until her death in Red Wing in 1957.
Local Call Number(s):
NAA Photo Lot 81L
Location of Other Archival Materials:
The National Anthropological Archives holds Frances Densmore papers (MS 4250) and material relating to her music research (MS 3370 and other numbered manuscript collections).
Densmore photographs held in National Anthropological Archives Photo Lot 24, MS 4250, MS 4635, MS 3261, MS 4690, MS 4877, Photo Lot 33, and the BAE historical negatives.
Correspondence from Densmore held in the National Anthropological Archives in MS 4846, MS 4821, Bureau of American Ethnology records, Science Service records, records of the Department of Anthropology, and collections of personal papers.
The Braun Research Library at Autry National Center and the Minnesota Historical Society also hold Frances Densmore papers.
Original nitrate negatives are in cold storage and require advanced notice for viewing.
Photo lot 81L, Frances Densmore photographs of July 4 observances at Standing Rock Reservation, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
The photographs primarily document ceremonies, people, and lands of American Indians in the Plains and Southwest, taken during Mekeel's field research from 1929 to 1936. A large portion of the collection depicts Mekeel's research during the early 1930s among the Oglala of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Another large portion of the collection includes personal photos depicting Mekeel's homes and children.
H. Scudder Mekeel (1902-1947) was an anthropologist who studied social and psychological aspects of American Indian cultures. Educated at Harvard University (BA, 1928), the University of Chicago (MA, 1929), and Yale University (PhD, 1932), he was a member of the 1929 Laboratory of Anthropology (Santa Fe) ethnological field school led by Alfred L. Kroeber. In 1929-1932, he carried out three field expeditions to the Sioux Indians of South Dakota, working mainly on the Pine Ridge Reservation. He joined the Bureau of Indian Affairs as Director of Applied Anthropology under Commissioner John Collier in 1935. Two years later, he was appointed Director of the Laboratory of Anthropology at Santa Fe and continued there until 1940, when he accepted a teaching position at the University of Wisconsin.
Local Call Number(s):
NAA Photo Lot 94-21
Location of Other Archival Materials:
The National Anthropological Archives holds copies of Mekeel's Field Notes from the summers of 1930 and 1931 in the White Clay District of the Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota (MS 7088). Originals of these field notes and Mekeel's population notes on the White Clay District are held by the American Museum of Natural History, Division of Anthropology Archives (.M454).
The Human Studies Film Archives holds Mekeel's film footage of a Lakota Sioux Sundance from 1930 (HSFA 92.8.1).
Correspondence from Mekeel held in the National Anthropological Archives in the William Duncan Strong papers, Raoul Weston LaBarre Papers, and Bureau of American Ethnology Administrative File.
Original nitrate negatives are in cold storage and require special arrangements for viewing.
Photo Lot 94-21, the H. Scudder Mekeel photographs, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution