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J. Harold Waugh photographs from the Spirit Lake Reservation (Devils Lake Reservation)

Waugh, John Harold, Jr., 1878-1956  Search this
Spirit Lake Tribe, North Dakota  Search this
United States. Office of Indian Affairs. Fort Totten Agency  Search this
41 Glass plate negatives
41 Copy negatives
Wahpetonwan Dakota [Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe]  Search this
Minnesota Chippewa [White Earth, Minnesota]  Search this
Turtle Mountain Chippewa  Search this
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Glass plate negatives
Copy negatives
Devils Lake (N.D.)
North Dakota
This collection includes glass plate negatives shot by J. Harold Waugh, the son of Indian Agent John H. Waugh on the Spirit Lake (Devil's Lake) reservation between 1890 and 1893. The agency headquarters were located at Fort Totten in North Dakota and Waugh (Sr.) oversaw both the Spirit Lake (Devil's Lake) and Turtle Mountain reservations. J. Harold Waugh's photographs include images of agency buildings, activities on the reservation and members of the Wahpetonwan Dakota [Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe] Tribe.
Scope and Contents:
This collection includes 41 glass plate negatives and copy negatives shot by J. Harold Waugh, the son of Indian Agent John H. Waugh on the Spirit Lake (Devil's Lake) reservation between 1890 and 1893. Waugh, who was a young man at the time, shot photographs documenting the activities at the Fort Totten Agency in North Dakota in addition to taking several group portraits and photographing buildings and landscape views. The buildings Waugh photographed included agency offices, post buildings, Issue buildings, a hotel in Fort Totten, the Episcopal mission, Roman Catholic convent and the Fort Totten Industrial Training School. Waugh shot photographs during several Wahpetonwan Dakota dances (some restricted), on Issue Day, and of a sham battle that took place in front of his house in Fort Totten. He also made portraits of Wahpetonwan Dakota community members, including members of the Spirit Lake (Devil's Lake) Indian police force. Several of the group portraits also include his father, John Waugh, and his sister, Edna Waugh. Although the majority of the photographs were made outside, there are several portraits of Minnesota Chippewa [White Earth, Minnesota] girls who were students at the Fort Totten Industrial school which appear to have been shot inside the school. Many of the Wahpetonwan Dakota community members were identified in the original catalog, though name spellings vary. Several photographs still remain unidentified.

The copy negatives were created by the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation (NMAI's predecessor museum) during a photo conservation project in the 1960s.

N20150 - N20192. N20158 and N20189 were destroyed, no copy negative exists.
Arranged by catalog number.
John Harold Waugh:
John Harold Waugh, Sr. was born west of Greenville, Pennsylvania in 1853, son of Judge William W. Waugh. Around 1873 he married to Ella M. Hammond, daughter of Dr. Hammond, formerly of Brooklyn, and they had two sons, William Hammond and John Harold, and one daughter, Edna. Waugh was stationed as the Indian agent from 1890-1893 at the Devil's Lake Agency which included the Fort Totten Reservation and Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota. Fort Totten reservation is now part of the Spirit Lake Reservation (Devil's Lake) in North Dakota. Between 1867 and 1890, Fort Totten served as a military post policing the surrounding reservation inhabited by the Wahpetonwan Dakota, formerly called "Devils Lake Sioux." In 1890 the Fort was decommissioned and on January 5th, 1891 the former post became the property of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

J. Harold Waugh, Jr., born in 1877, was still a young man while his father was stationed in North Dakota. After the death of his father in 1894 he along with his mother and sister moved back to Pennsylvania. Waugh eventually settled in New Jersey and opened an advertising firm. He later donated his negatives to the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation in 1930 and deposited additional materials with the museum in 1950.
The Fort Totten Industrial Training School:
The Fort Totten Industrial Training School was originally an outgrowth of the mission school established by the Catholics in 1874 and the industrial school established by the order of the Grey Nuns from Montreal. After a fire burned down the main buildings of the mission in 1883 a new mission was built half a mile northeast of Fort Totten. In 1890 when the Fort was decommissioned, the Mission school was consolidated with the Industrial School and placed under the supervision of Superintendent William F. Canfield. Under Canfield the school taught students from the Spirit Lake (Devils Lake) reservation, Turtle Mountain reservation, and Standing Rock reservations in North Dakota, the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana, the White Earth Reservation, Red Lake Reservation, and Leech Lake reservations in Minnesota. Most pupils were enrolled for three to five years and half the school day was devoted to industrial work including harness making, shoemaking, tailoring, carpentry, masonry, blacksmithing, farming and engineering for the boys and cooking, breadmaking, housekeeping, laundry work and sewing for the girls.
Related Materials:
J. Harold Waugh later donated a collection of plains ethnology to the MAI in 1941. These items had been collected by his father John H. Waugh while he was an Indian Agent in North Dakota from 1890-1893. You can view these items here: John Waugh collection items.
Donated by J. Harold Waugh, Jr. in 1930.
Access to NMAI Archives 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:

One of the photographs is restricted due to cultural sensitivity.
Permission to publish materials from the collection must be requested from National Museum of the American Indian Archives Center. Please submit a written request to For personal or classroom use, users are invited to download, print, photocopy, and distribute the images that are available online without prior written permission, provided that the files are not modified in any way, 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. For more information please see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use and NMAI Archive Center's Digital Image request website.
Boarding schools  Search this
Indians of North America -- North Dakota  Search this
Glass plate negatives
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); J. Harold Waugh photographs from the Spirit Lake Reservation (Devil's Lake Reservation) image #, NMAI.AC.143; National Museum of the American Indian Archives Center, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
J. Harold Waugh photographs from the Spirit Lake Reservation (Devils Lake Reservation)
Archival Repository:
National Museum of the American Indian
Online Media:

Encounter on the Great Plains : Scandinavian settlers and the dispossession of Dakota Indians, 1890-1930 / Karen V. Hansen

Scandinavian settlers and the dispossession of Dakota Indians, 1890-1930
Hansen, Karen V  Search this
Physical description:
xxviii, 332 p. [32] pages of plates : ill. ; 25 cm
North Dakota
Devils Lake Region (Lake)
Fort Totten Indian Reservation
Spirit Lake Tribe, North Dakota
Fort Totten Indian Reservation (N.D.)
Scandinavian Americans--History  Search this
Scandinavian Americans--Land tenure  Search this
Indians of North America--Land tenure  Search this
Indian allotments  Search this
Rural women--History  Search this
Dakota Indians  Search this
Norwegians  Search this
History  Search this
Ethnic relations  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries

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