Reverend James Owen Dorsey (1848-1895) was a missionary and Bureau of American Ethnology ethnologist who conducted extensive research on Siouan tribes and languages.The papers of James Owen Dorsey comprise mostly ethnographic and linguistic materials on various tribes of the Siouan language family as well as tribes from Siletz Reservation in Oregon. These materials include texts and letters with interlineal translations; grammar notes; dictionaries; drawings; and his manuscripts. In addition, the collection contains Dorsey's correspondence, newspaper clippings, his obituaries, and reprints.
Scope and Contents:
This collection contains James O. Dorsey's research and writings as a BAE ethnologist, as well as his earlier work as a missionary among the Ponca. The vast majority of the collection pertains to his research on Siouan-Catawban languages, including the Dakota and Dhegiha languages, Chiwere, Winnebago, Mandan, Hidatsa, Tutelo, Biloxi, and Catawba. His research on Athapascan, Kusan, Takilman, and Yakonan languages from his field work at Siletz Reservation are also present, as well as some notes on the Caddoan languages. Dorsey's research files include linguistic and ethnological field notes, reading notes, stories and myths, vocabularies, drawings, and unpublished and published manuscripts. The collection also contains Omaha, Ponca, Quapaw, and Biloxi dictionaries that he compiled and materials relating to his work editing Steven Riggs' Dakota-English Dictionary. Additional noteworthy materials in the collection are Teton texts and drawings from George Bushotter and drawings by Stephen Stubbs (Kansa), Pahaule-gagli (Kansa), and George Miller (Omaha). The collection also contains Dorsey's correspondence, newspaper clippings, obituaries, and his collection of reprints.
The collection is organized into 6 series: 1) Siouan; 2) Siletz Reservation; 3) Caddoan; 4) General Correspondence; 5) Personal Papers; 6) Miscellaneous & Reprints.
Reverend James Owen Dorsey (1848-1895) was a missionary and Bureau of American Ethnology ethnologist who conducted extensive research on Siouan tribes and languages.
Dorsey was born on October 31, 1848 in Baltimore, Maryland. He exhibited a talent for languages at an early age. At age 6 he learned the Hebrew alphabet and was able to read the language at age 10. In 1867 Dorsey attended the Theological Seminary of Virginia and was ordained a deacon of the Protestant Episcopal Church in 1871. In May of that year, Dorsey traveled to the Dakota Territory to serve as a missionary among the Ponca. Plagued by ill health, Dorsey was forced to end his missionary work in August 1873. By that time, however, he had learned the Ponca language well enough to converse with members of the tribe without an interpreter.
Dorsey returned to Maryland and engaged in parish work while continuing his studies of Siouan languages. His linguistic talents and knowledge of these languages attracted the attention of Major John Wesley Powell. Powell arranged for Dorsey to work among the Omaha in Nebraska from 1878 to 1880 to collect linguistic and ethnological notes. When the Bureau of American Ethnology (BAE) was established in 1879, Powell recruited Dorsey to join the staff.
As an ethnologist for the BAE, Dorsey continued his research on Siouan tribes. His studies focused on languages but also included Siouan personal names, folklore, social organization, religion, beliefs, and customs. He conducted fieldwork among the Tutelo at Six Nations on Grand River in Upper Canada (1882); the Kansa, Osage, and Quapaw in Indian Territory (1883-1884); the Biloxi at Lecompte, Rapides Parish, Louisiana (1892); and again with the Quapaw at the Quapaw Mission (1894). He also worked with Native Americans that visited DC, including George Bushotter (Teton), Philip Longtail (Winnebago), Samuel Fremont (Omaha), and Little Standing Buffalo (Ponca). He also spent time at Siletz Reservation in 1884 to collect linguistic notes on the Athapascan, Kusan, Takilman, and Yakonan stocks.
In addition to his research, Dorsey helped found the American Folklore Society and served as the first vice-president of the association. He also served as vice-president of Section H of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
At the age of 47, Dorsey died of typhoid fever on February 4, 1895.
1st-16th Annual Reports of the Bureau of American Ethnology. 1881-1897.
Hewitt, J.N.B. 1895. "James Owen Dorsey" American Anthropologist A8, 180-183.
McGee, W.J. 1895. "In Memoriam." Journal of American Folklore 8(28): 79-80.
1848 -- Born on October 31 in Baltimore, Maryland.
1871 -- Ordained a deacon of the Protestant Episcopal Church.
1871-1873 -- Served as a missionary among the Ponca in Dakota Territory.
1878-1880 -- Conducted fieldwork among the Omaha in Nebraska.
1879 -- Joined the staff of the Bureau of American Ethnology.
1882 -- Conducted fieldwork among the Tutelo at Six Nations on Grand River in Upper Canada.
1883-1884 -- Conducted fieldwork among the Kansa, Osage, and Quapaw in Indian Territory.
1887 -- Worked with George Bushotter to record information regarding the language and culture of the Dakota.
1884 -- Conducted fieldwork at Siletz Reservation.
1892 -- Conducted fieldwork among the Biloxi at Lecompte, Rapides Parish, Louisiana.
1894 -- Conducted fieldwork among the Quapaw at the Quapaw Mission in Indian Territory.
1895 -- Died of typhoid fever on February 4th at the age of 47.
The James O. Dorsey Papers are open for research. Access to the James O. Dorsey Papers requires an appointment
Manuscript 4800 James O. Dorsey papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
Creation of this finding aid was funded through support from the Arcadia Fund.
Digitization and preparation of additional materials for online access has been funded also by the National Science Foundation under BCS Grant No. 1561167 and the Recovering Voices initiative at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.
Indians of North America -- Northwest Coast of North America Search this
Siletz Indian Reservation (Or.)
Rogue River (Klamath County-Curry County, Or.)
Illinois River (Or.)
Scope and Contents:
This subseries of the Alaska/Northwest Coast series contains Harrington's Takelma research. His linguistic, ethnographic, and biographical notes contain information from Frances Johnson, Molly Orcutt, and, to a lesser extent, Aneti Scott. Vocabulary consists primarily of animal names, with descriptions of animals and comments on their range and habits. There are many annotations regarding pronunciation, comparisons between forms in various dialects, and several references to myths. Much of the data from Johnson was elicited for comparison with vocabulary she had provided years earlier for Edward Sapir's (1922) study of Takelma. There are smaller sections covering tribe names, material culture, and miscellaneous vocabulary. Considerable biographical information on the residents of the Siletz area and elsewhere is included.
There are also notes that reflect information recorded separately from Frances Johnson and Molly Orcutt on trips to the Rogue and Illinois Rivers area in Oregon. Harrington also obtained an appreciable amount of data from whites he interviewed. George and Evelyn Baker traveled with him and the Indian women from Siletz. White residents they met along the way include Mr. Crow, Mr. Holst, Mr. Emanuell, Miss Savage, Mr. Lyman, J. T. Tuffs, and Mr. Murphy. Harrington's preferred method of operation was to take several people on sidetrips with his linguistic informant to places with which these people were familiar. He noted car mileage from the starting point and recorded the specific location of each important place, its various names in Takelma and English, its history, and past or present significance to Indians and whites. Sketch maps were made of some areas with the assistance of a number of the informants. Much of the placename data were rechecked upon return to Siletz. Among the Takelma lands covered are places along the Rogue River, the south fork of the Umpqua River, Grants Pass, Table Rock, Jacksonville, Gold Hill, Ashland, Medford, Cow Creek, and Galice Creek. The outlying regions around the Klamath River and Coos Bay are also mentioned.
Biographical / Historical:
After recording Shasta and Konomihu in northern California during the early fall of 1933, John P. Harrington crossed the state border into Oregon to work on Takelma. He worked first with Frances Johnson (referred to as Frances, Fr., Frz., F.J., Phr.), an elderly native of a village on Jump-off-Joe Creek, who had worked with Edward Sapirt at Siletz Reservation in the summer of 1906. He began interviewing her in October and then took her on a placename trip to former Takelma territory on November 2nd through the 4th.
After his return to the Siletz area, Harrington worked with two other people. On November 5th he spoke with Aneti (Mrs. Spencer) Scott, a bedridden woman in her eighties. She gave him vocabulary in her native Applegate as well as words in Takelma which she had learned from her first husband, Evans Bill. Molly Orcutt (sometimes referred to as Orton, abbreviated as Molly, Moy., Mo.), mentioned as a speaker of the Table Rock Dialect, also gave him considerable linguistic data. On November 13th through the 19th Harrington again returned to the original tribal lands to record placenames from her. It appears that Harrington made a final check on the tribenames and placenames he had obtained with Aneti and Orcutt in Siletz before returning to California.
John Peabody Harrington papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
The preferred citation for the Harrington Papers will reference the actual location within the collection, i.e. Box 172, Alaska/Northwest Coast, Papers of John Peabody Harrington, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution.
However, as the NAA understands the need to cite phrases or vocabulary on specific pages, a citation referencing the microfilmed papers is acceptable. Please note that the page numbering of the PDF version of the Harrington microfilm does not directly correlate to the analog microfilm frame numbers. If it is necessary to cite the microfilmed papers, please refer to the specific page number of the PDF version, as in: Papers of John Peabody Harrington, Microfilm: MF 7, R34 page 42.
Indians of North America -- Northwest Coast of North America Search this
Scope and Contents:
Letter to George Gibbs, transmitting three "upper Rogue River" vocabularies. Fort Yamhill, Oregon Territory. January 10, 1857. Autograph letter signed 4 pages.
Comparative vocabulary of Applegate, Ta-kil-ma, and Uppa (Shasta). [Fort Yamhill, Oregon Territory] [Before January 10, 1857] Manuscript document 8 pages.
Individual Applegate Creek and Ta-kil-ma vocabularies. [Fort Yamhill, Oregon Territory] Before January 10, 1857] Manuscript document 12 pages.
Gibbs, George. Drafts of two letters to W. B. Hazen, concerning the collection of vocabularies and creation myths. Port Townsend, Washington Territory. February 26, 1856 , and March 16 . Autograph document signed 11 pages.
Both the comparative and the individual vocabularies are copies by George Gibbs. The individual vocabularies are recorded in Comparative Vocabulary. The draft of the February 26 letter from Gibbs to Hazen contains a Nisqually creation myth. The comparative vocabulary is annotated by A. C. Anderson (compare Athapascan Manuscript number 123), with a few later Manuscript notes by A. S. Gatschet and J. C. Pilling. Although the individual Applegate Creek vocabulary is also labeled "Nabiltse," it is not the same language as Nabiltse (compare Nabiltse Manuscript number 131).