The Frederick Johnson collection consists of original negatives made from 1924 to 1931 by Johnson primary among the Mi'kmaq, Innu, Algonquin, Potawatomi, Montagnais, Abenaki, Anishinaabe, and Mistassini Cree peoples of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Quebec, Canada. Frederick Johnson began his anthropological studies as a teenager, accompanying anthropologist Frank G. Speck (1881-1951) on trips to Native communities in Eastern Canada. Between 1923 and 1929, Johnson studied at the University of Pennsylvania and conducted several research trips in Canada, some of which were sponsored by the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation.
Scope and Contents:
The collection consists of original negatives made from 1924 to 1931 by Johnson primary among the Mi'kmaq, Innu, Algonquin, Potawatomi, Montagnais, Abenaki, Anishinaabe, and Mistassini Cree peoples of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Quebec, Canada. The bulk were made among the Mi'kmaq, Innu, and Algonquin peoples in 1925 and from 1927 to 1931. In general, the majority of the Canada materials are informal, outdoor portraits of individuals and groups but they also depict dwellings, the construction of wigwams and birchbark canoes, carving and wood working processes, ceremonials, churches, the process of catching and smoking salmon, and the landscape. In addition there are negatives made in Delaware from 1924 to 1926 of and Nanticoke and Rappahannock. Again, these consist primarily of outdoor, informal portraits of individuals and groups of people.
Arranged in three series geographically and chronologically; Series 1: United Sates: Delaware, Nanticoke, 1924-1927; Series 2: Canada: Quebec and Ontario, Various Communities, 1925-1930; Series 3: Canada: Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, Mi'kmaq (Micmac), 1930-1931. Series 2 has six subseries organized by community. Negatives are arranged by catalog number within the series or subseries.
Born in 1904 in Everett, Massachusetts, Frederick Johnson at an early age displayed an interest in indigenous cultures and an aptitude for indigenous languages. He studied anthropology at Tufts, the University of Massachusetts, and at the University of Pennsylvania, and eventually accompanied anthropologist and mentor Frank G. Speck on several trips throughout the Northeastern United States. Early in his career, Johnson worked with the Algonquin people and from 1917 to 1931 among the Innu, Mi'kmaq, Anishinaabe, and Mistassini Cree communities in Canada. Individuals from these communities noted that Johnson's primarily focus was to listen to elders and their stories. Many of Johnson's research trips during this period were sponsored by the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation (MAI) and Johnson would send collections of ethnographic materials and photographs back to the MAI in New York City. From 1936 to 1967, Johnson was the curator of Harvard's Peabody Museum and subsequently became the Museum's director, a post that he held until his retirement in 1969. Johnson passed away in 1994 in Lowell, Massachusetts.
For more information on Frederick Johnson ethnographic work in Canada see "Frederick Johnson's Canadian Ethnology in the Americanist Tradition" by Marilyn Norcini. Histories of Anthropology Annual, Volume 4, 2008, pp. 106-134.
Frederick Johnson participated in the 1919 expedition to San Miguel Island (California) with Ralph Glidden, sponsored by the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation. Johnson's photographs from that expedition can be found in the Ralph Glidden photograph collection (NMAI.AC.001.028).
A collection of Frederick Johnson's papers and photographs can be found at the Robert S. Peabody Institute of Archaeology.
A significant collection of ethnographic materials from Canada accompanied the photographs by Johnson and can be found in NMAI's object collection. To view these objects, or for more information, please contact NMAI Collections or make an appointment through the NMAI website.
The photographs in this collection were sent to the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation, by Frederick Johnson between 1927-1931 along with his ethnographic field collections.
Access to NMAI Archive Center collections is by appointment only, Monday - Friday, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm. Please contact the archives to make an appointment (phone: 301-238-1400, email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Permission to publish materials from the collection must be requested from National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center. Please submit a written request to email@example.com. For personal or classroom use, users are invited users to download, print, photocopy, and distribute the images that are available online without prior written permission, provided that the files are not changed, the Smithsonian Institution copyright notice (where applicable) is included, and the source of the image is identified as the National Museum of the American Indian.