Guide to the Research Collections

- SECTION -- III -- THE SOCIAL SCIENCES
- PART TWO
- 52 -- GENERAL HISTORY OF THE AMERICAS
- RESOURCES
- American Indians (Billings HB)

American Indians (Billings HB)

There are over 12,000 volumes in this rich collection covering both continents and all phases of the history, archaeology, and anthropology of the Indian. There are complete files of periodicals and publications of organizations and institutions, as well as government reports relating to the Indian. References to magazine articles on the American Indian are most completely represented in the American History Division catalog. Monographs on the history, social life and customs, and arts of the Indian are included in both the division catalog and the Public Catalog.

Standard works and histories are present in large numbers. There are various editions of such works as George Catlin's Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Condition of the North American Indians (London, 1841), and of such monumental compilations as Lord Kings-borough's Antiquities of Mexico (London, 1830-48). Among other works relating to the Mayan, Aztec, and other early Indian cultures is an extensive collection of facsimiles of pre-Columbian codices.

The American Indian collection was increased during the period from 1912 to 1914 by materials from the library of Wilberforce Eames.5 In 1912-13 the library secured a series of laws of the Cherokee Nation (1821-93) and Cherokee newspapers (1828-53); the recent acquisition of two pamphlets of extreme rarity published in Tahlequah, C. N. (1853; 1858) containing laws of the Cherokee Nation Strengthens those holdings. In 1959, Charles Eberstadt presented a collection of seventy-five treaties between the United States and various Indian tribes and nations ranging in date from 1836 to 1870. These are original State Department issues printed in small editions for official purposes. The library has the texts of many Indian treaties in other forms.

The collection of works relating to American Indian linguistics is particularly complete, not only in formal studies of more than 300 languages and dialects but also in texts, including many Bibles and other religious works. Many of the materials found in this group are housed in the Rare Book Division.

Other noteworthy features of the American Indian holdings in the library include books and pictorial materials relating to manners and customs, social life, and dress. Among the pictorial features are several unique items. A remarkable German broadside with four lines of text containing a hand-colored wood engraving of cannibal Indians dressed in feathers is in the Spencer Collection; considered to date from 1505, this is

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one of the earliest printed representations of American Indians.6 In the Prints Division is a gouache on vellum made by Jacques Le Moynes de Morgues depicting Florida Indians and French settlers in 1564.7 The Rare Book Division has an album of drawings by Francis B. Mayer of Sioux Indians done in pencil and watercolors during the mid-nineteenth century. There is also a collection in three portfolio volumes of 167 leaves of pencil drawings by Francis B. Mayer of Sioux Indians done in pencil and watercolors during the mid-nineteenth century. There is also a collection in three portfolio volumes of 167 leaves of pencil drawings of Indians by George Catlin, each leaf signed by Catlin and accompanied by a leaf of descriptive text in his hand. The collection is entitled Souvenir of the N. American Indians, as they were in the middle of the Nineteenth Century. The manuscript title page is signed and dated: "Geo. Catlin, London, 1850." Another interesting feature of the holdings in this area are portraits and pictures of historic Indians, including J.P. Lewis's The North American Aboriginal Port-folio.

The accounts of Europeans held captive by Indians form a third group of interest. A collection in the Rare Book Division of more than 500 rare copies, reprints, and the like contains first editions of the sixteenth-century accounts of Nu&nmacr;ez Cabeza de Vaca, Juan Ortiz, and Hans Staden. From the seventeenth century come A True History of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson (London, 1682) and the account of Quentin Stockwell printed in Increase Mather's An Essay for the Recording of Illustrious Providences (Boston, 1684). There is a copy of Jonathan Dickenson's God's Protecting Providence (Philadelphia, 1699), and in addition, a translation of that account published by Christopher Saur in Germantown, Pennsylvania (1756). Narratives of captives in the eighteenth century are represented by the extremely rare second edition of John Williams's The Redeemed Captive Returning to Zion (Boston, 1720) and by the famous The Adventures of Col. Daniel Boon; a photostatic copy of the latter is housed by the Rare Book Division, and a printed example is found in John Filson's The Discovery, Settlement and Present State of Kentucke (Wilmington, 1784) in the Arents Collection.8 The unusual collection relating to Indian place names is also worthy of mention.

The Chalmers papers and the Schuyler Indian papers in the Manuscripts and Archives Division are the most extensive manuscript materials relating to the American Indian. The Chalmers collection of transcripts and original documents relating to the American colonies includes about 50 items dating from 1750 to 1775; it contains extracts from treaties, proceedings at councils with various tribes, intelligence brought in by spies, and letters of Sir William Johnson. Among the papers of General Philip Schuyler, one of the commissioners of Indian affairs in the Northern Department and agent of the state of New York, are speeches made at Indian councils, notes of proceedings, minutes of the commissioners' meetings, accounts of supplies, letters, resolutions of Congress, and various papers relating to the lands of the Six Nations, including numerous claims filed in 1795 by white settlers on the Cayuga reservation. About 550 items date 1764-97.

The American History Division maintains a number of scrapbooks and a card file index to American Indian design. The Picture (Illustrations) Index in the division includes many references to American Indians.