These papers reflect the professional lives of Alice Cunningham Fletcher (1838-1923), an ethnologist with the Peabody Museum of Harvard and collaborator with the Bureau of American Ethnology, and Francis La Flesche (1856-1923), an anthropologist with the Bureau of American Ethnology. Due to the close professional and personal relationship of Fletcher and La Flesche, their papers have been arranged jointly. The papers cover the period from 1874 to 1939. Included in the collection is correspondence, personal diaries, lectures, field notes and other ethnographic papers, drafts, musical transcriptions, publications by various authors, maps and photographs.
Scope and Contents:
These papers reflect the professional lives of Alice Cunningham Fletcher (1838-1923), an ethnologist with the Peabody Museum of Harvard University and collaborator with the Bureau of American Ethnology, and Francis La Flesche (1856-1923), an anthropologist with the Bureau of American Ethnology. Due to the close professional and personal relationship of Fletcher and La Flesche, their papers have been arranged jointly. The papers cover the period from 1874 to 1939. Included in the collection is correspondence, personal diaries, lectures, field notes and other ethnographic papers, drafts, musical transcriptions, publications by various authors, maps and photographs.
The papers have been divided into three general categories: the papers of Alice Cunningham Fletcher, the papers of Francis La Flesche, and the ethnographic research of Fletcher and La Flesche. The first two categories represent personal and professional materials of Fletcher and La Flesche. The third section holds the majority of the ethnographic material in the collection.
Of primary concern are Fletcher and La Flesche's ethnological investigations conducted among the Plains Indians, particularly the Omaha and Osage. Fletcher's Pawnee field research and her allotment work for the Bureau of Indian Affairs among the Omaha, Nez Perce, and Winnebago are represented in the collection. A substantial portion of the ethnographic material reflects Fletcher and La Flesche's studies of Native American music. Much of the correspondence in the papers of Fletcher and La Flesche is rich with information about the situation of Omaha peoples in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Also included in the collection are documents related to Fletcher's work with the Archaeological Institute of America and the School for American Archaeology. Additionally, substantial amounts of Fletcher's early anthropological and historical research are found among her correspondence, lectures, anthropological notes, and early field diaries. La Flesche's literary efforts are also generously represented.
The collection is divided into the following 3 series: 1) Alice Cunningham Fletcher papers, 1873-1925; 2) Francis La Flesche papers, 1881-1930; 3) Papers relating to the anthropological research of Alice Fletcher and Francis La Flesche, 1877-1939.
Series 1: Alice Cunningham Fletcher papers is divided into the following 10 subseries: 1.1) Incoming correspondence, 1874-1923 (bulk 1882-1923); 1.2) Outgoing correspondence, 1873-1921; 1.3) Correspondence on specific subjects, 1881-1925; 1.4) Correspondence between Fletcher and La Flesche, 1895-1922; 1.5) Publications, 1882-1920; 1.6) Organizational records, 1904-1921; 1.7) General anthropological notes, undated; 1.8) Lectures, circa 1878-1910; 1.9) Diaries, 1881-1922; 1.10) Biography and memorabilia, 1878-1925.
Series 2: Francis La Flesche papers is divided into the following 6 subseries: 2.11) General correspondence, 1890-1929; 2.12) Correspondence on specific subjects, 1881-1930; 2.13) Publications, 1900-1927; 2.14) Literary efforts, undated; 2.15) Personal diaries, 1883-1924; 2.16) Biography and memorabilia, 1886-1930.
Series 3: Papers relating to the anthropological research of Alice Fletcher and Francis La Flesche is divided into the following 12 subseries: 3.17) Alaska, 1886-1887; 3.18) Earth lodges, 1882, 1898-1899; 3.19) Music, 1888-1918; 3.20) Nez Perce, 1889-1909; 3.21) Omaha, 1882-1922; 3.22) Osage, 1896-1939; 3.23) Pawnee, 1897-1910; 3.24) Pipes, undated; 3.25) Sioux, 1877-1896; 3.26) Other tribes, 1882-1922; 3.27) Publications collected, 1884-1905, undated; 3.28) Photographs, undated.
Biographical / Historical:
Alice Cunningham Fletcher (1838-1923) was an ethnologist with the Peabody Museum of Harvard and collaborator with the Bureau of American Ethnology. Francis La Flesche (1856-1923) was an anthropologist with the Bureau of American Ethnology.
Chronology of the Life of Alice Cunningham Fletcher
1838 March 15 -- Born in Havana, Cuba
1873-1876 -- Secretary, American Association for Advancement of Women
1879 -- Informal student of anthropology, Peabody Museum, Harvard University
1881 -- Field trip to Omaha and Rosebud Agencies
1882 -- Assistant in ethnology, Peabody Museum, Harvard University
1882 -- Helped secure land in severalty to Omaha Indians
1882-1883 -- Begins collaboration with Francis La Flesche on the Peabody Museum's collection of Omaha and Sioux artifacts
1883-1884 -- Special Agent, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Omaha Agency
1886 -- Bureau of Education investigation of Alaskan native education
1887-1888 -- Special Disbursing Agent, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Winnebago Agency
1889-1892 -- Special Agent for allotment, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Nez Perce Agency
1890-1899 -- President, Women's Anthropological Society of America
1891-1923 -- Mary Copley Thaw Fellow, Peabody Museum, Harvard University
1892-1893 -- Department of Interior consultant, World's Columbian Exposition
1896 -- Vice-President, Section H, American Association for the Advancement of Science
1897 -- Collaborator, Bureau of American Ethnology
1899-1916 -- Editorial board, American Anthropologist
1900 -- Published Indian Story and Song from North America
1901-1902 -- Advisory committee, Anthropology Department, University of California at Berkeley
1903 -- President, Anthropological Society of Washington
1904 -- Published The Hako: A Pawnee Ceremony with James Murie
1908-1913 -- Chair, Managing Committee of School of American Archaeology
1911 -- Honorary Vice-President, Section H, British Association for Advancement of Science
1911 -- Published The Omaha Tribe with Francis La Flesche
1913 -- Chair Emeritus, Managing Committee of School of American Archaeology
1915 -- Published Indian Games and Dances with Native Songs Arranged from American Indian Ceremonials and Sports
1923 April 6 -- Died in Washington, D.C.
Chronology of the Life of Francis La Flesche
1857 December 25 -- Born on Omaha Reservation near Macy, Nebraska
1879 -- Lecture tour, Ponca chief Standing Bear
1881 -- Interpreter, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
1881-1910 -- Clerk, Bureau of Indian Affairs
1891 -- Informally adopted as Fletcher's son
1892 -- LL.B., National University Law School
1893 -- LL.M., National University Law School
1900 -- Published The Middle Five: Indian Boys at School
1906-1908 -- Marriage to Rosa Bourassa
1910-1929 -- Ethnologist, Bureau of American Ethnology
1911 -- Published The Omaha Tribe with Alice Fletcher
1921 -- Published The Osage Tribe, Part One
1922 -- Member, National Academy of Sciences
1922-1923 -- President, Anthropological Society of Washington
1925 -- Published The Osage Tribe, Part Two
1926 -- Honorary Doctor of Letters, University of Nebraska
1928 -- Published The Osage Tribe, Part Three
1932 -- Published Dictionary of the Osage Language
1932 September 5 -- Died in Thurston County, Nebraska
1939 -- Posthumous publication of War Ceremony and Peace Ceremony of the Osage Indians
Additional material related to the professional work of Fletcher and La Flesche in the National Anthropological Archives may be found among the correspondence of the Bureau of American Ethnology (BAE) and the records of the Anthropological Society of Washington.
Sound recordings made by Fletcher and La Flesche can be found at the Library of Congress. The National Archives Records Administration hold the Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), including those relating to allotments in severalty for the Nez Perce by Alice Fletcher. The Nebraska Historical Society has diaries, letters and clippings regarding the La Flesche family, including correspondence of Francis La Flesche and Fletcher. The Radcliffe College Archives holds a manuscript account of Alice Fletcher's four summers with the Nez Perce (1889-1892). Correspondence between Fletcher and F. W. Putnam is also located at the Peabody Museum Archives of Harvard University.
Ethnographic photographs from the collection have been catalogued by tribe in Photo Lot 24.
Glass plate negatives from the collection have been catalogued by tribe in the BAE glass negatives collection (Negative Numbers 4439-4515).
The papers of Alice Cunningham Fletcher and Francis La Flesche have been received from an undocumented number of sources. Portions of Fletcher's ethnographic papers were donated to the archives by Mrs. G. David Pearlman in memory of her husband in 1959.
The Alice Cunningham Fletcher and Francis La Flesche papers are open for research.
Access to the Alice Cunningham Fletcher and Francis La Flesche papers requires an appointment.
A photograph of Charles Banks Wilson's pencil drawing depicting an eighteenth century Quapaw man holding two feathered pipes (calumets) and wearing body paint and a headdress. The drawing was based on research and model Ed Quapaw. The collection also includes two photocopies of drawings showing the bust of the oldest Omaha man (94 years old), his 76-year-old son, and the last chief of the Winnebagos linked by heredity to the post.
Charles Banks Wilson (1918-2013) was a painter, printmaker, historian, and illustrator. Born in Springdale, Arkansas, his family eventually moved to Miami, Oklahoma, where he grew up. In 1985, the Smithsonian Institution exhibited a series of his paintings entitled "Search for the Purebloods," which consisted of 70 portraits of full-blooded members of Native American tribes. This series included a portrait of the Wilson's Quapaw mother-in-law. To prepare for this project, Wilson analyzed accounts by the explorer Henri de Tonti and conducted research at the University of Arkansas, the Smithsonian, and the Gilcrease Museum.
Local Call Number(s):
NAA Photo Lot 87-13
Location of Other Archival Materials:
Photocopy of a newspaper article on the drawing, which was donated along with the collection, has been relocated to the National Anthropological Archives Reference Files.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum, National Portrait Gallery and Pierson Gallery in Tulsa, OK, hold prints and paintings by Wilson.
Contents: Manuscript 4590 Quapaw: (1) Description: Victor Griffin, last Chief of the Quapaws, 1927-1959 Date: 1956. (2) Robert A. Whitebird. Full blood. Head of Quapaw Tribal Business Committee since 1956. On board of National Congress of American Indians. Family name, Waz-hing-ka. (3) "Ceremonial pipe... We do not know if it is of Quapaw origin. It is made of gray, rather heavy stone and a little over two feet tall." --Mrs Velma Nieberding. (4) Mary Lane Redeagle, Miami, Oklahoma. Full blood (half Pottawatomie, half Quapaw). (5) Mrs George Romich helps her two daughters, Tamara (right) and Rhona (left) into dancing costume, for the annual Quapaw pow-wow. (6) Mrs Robert A. Whitebird and the buckskin dress she made and beaded, The design is authentic woodland made from an old Quapaw dress.
A souvenir booklet of the Ottawa County, Oklahoma Semi-Centennial (1907-1957) Ottowa County Pageant, is also included.