Photographs commissioned by Rodman Wanamaker to document the "vanishing" way of life for Native Americans during 1908-1913. The photographs were made by Joseph Kossuth Dixon and largely depict northern Plains tribes, including Blackfeet, Cheyenne, Crow, and Dakota. These large bromide prints form a set of presentation photographs and apparently such sets were placed by Rodman Wanamaker in several museums.
Rodman Wanamaker (1863-1928) was heir to a successful Philadelphia department business and patron of the arts, education, and Native American culture. In the early 20th century, he hired photographer Joseph Kossuth Dixon and sponsored three expeditions to Native American reservations (1908-1913). The main goal of these expeditions was to document the way of life of Native Americans, whom he saw as a "vanishing race," and to make "first-class citizens" of the Indians as a means of saving them from extinction. In additiona to still photography, films were also made during these expeditions including a motion picture film about Hiawatha made on the first expedition (1908), and a reenactment of the Battle of the Little Big Horn made on the second expedition (1909). The third expedition, the "Expedition of Citizenship" (1913), focused on carrying an American flag to tribes across the country and inviting them to sign a declaration of allegiance to the United States.
Local Call Number(s):
NAA Photo Lot 64
Location of Other Archival Materials:
Dixonʹs negatives are at the Indiana University, Mathers Museum of World Cultures.
The National Anthropological Archives also holds a copy photograph of Wanamaker's Memorial to First Americans ground-breaking (Photo Lot R82-55).
The National Museum of the American Indian holds artifacts and some additional photographs from Wanamaker's expeditions. The Human Studies Film Archives holds expedition footage.
The collection is open for research.
Access to the collection requires an appointment.
Photo lot 64, Rodman Wanamaker photograph collection relating to Native Americans, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution