- Collection ID:
No linguistic content; Not applicable
- Physical Description:
81 photographic prints
Images consist mostly of portraits of the indigenous people in the Mexican states of Michoacan, Guerrero, Nayarit, Sinaloa, Oaxaca, Chiapas and Veracruz. The collection primarily contains images of Wikarika (Huichol) people, but includes images of the Cora, Aztec, Tzotzil, Chinantec, Nahua and Tarasco tribes.
Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The Donald Bush Cordry collection primarily contains photographic materials made by Cordry while he collected objects from 1935 to 1938 on behalf of the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation. Photographic materials from his private 1933 trip to Guerreo and a few taken around 1940 are also housed in the collection. The photographs depict the native peoples of the Mexican states of Chiapas, Guerrero, Michoacan, Nayarit, Oaxaca, Sinaloa, and Veracruz and represent people preparing food, making masks, pottery and textiles, and dressing for and participating in ceremonies. In addition there are village scenes and informal portraits of individuals. The culture groups represented in the collection include primarily the Wikarika but also the Chinantec, Cora, Guerrero Nahua, Nahua, Purepecha, and Tzotzil Maya.
Prints Arranged by print numbers (P11986-P12008, P12659-12887, P13273-P13275, P13386-P13414, P15052-P15053, P15202-P15203, P13412-P13414, P15052-P15053, P15202-P15203, P15347-P153478)
Negatives Arranged by negative numbers (N21119-N21126, N36855-N36863, N37335, N41431-N41432)
Starting in high school, Donald Bush Cordry was deeply committed to theatorical set design and puppetry and while attending the Minneapolis Institute of Art began to carve his own wooden marionettes and hand puppets. In 1931, Cordry made his first trip to Mexico (Guerrero) and become fascinated by contemporary Mexican Indian art, especially mask making. In 1934, Cordry moved to New York to work as a marionette designer for puppeteer Tony Sarg and soon contacted George G. Heye to learn more about Mexican Indian art. From 1935 to 1938, Cordry collected Mexican masks and other art forms on behalf of the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation. On his first 1935 collecting trip for Heye, Cordry traveled throughout the states of Michoacan and Guerrero and collected carved and painted dance masks.
In 1936, Cordry married fellow artist Dorothy Mann. Shortly after their wedding, the newlyweds traveled by horseback for six months through Nayarit, Jalisco, and southern Sonora and extensively collected among and photographed the Huichol, Cora and Mayo Indians. The couple moved to Mexico in 1938, first settling in Oaxaca; in the mid-1940s, no longer working for Heye, they relocated to Mexico City. There Cordry established his own design business and produced decorative Mexican folk art-style crafts. His business was highly successful and his work was featured in House and Garden magazine. The couple moved to Cuernavaca, where in 1953 Cordry suffered a stroke and was forced to close his workshop. His stroke also put an end to his traveling and collecting activities. Deeply interested in the history and traditions of Mexican Indians, Cordry assembled an extensive reading library of pre- and post-conquest Mexico materials and together with his wife published Costumes and textiles of the Aztec Indians of the Cuetzalan Region, Puebla, Mexico (1940); The costumes and weaving of the Zoque Indians of Chiapas, Mexico (1941); and, most importantly, Mexican Indian costumes (1968). Cordry's monumental Mexican Masks (1980) was published shortly after his death. Cordry died in Cuernavaca, Mexico, at the age of 71.
Processing Information note
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Historically, the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation managed all photographic and related manuscript collections separately. This collection description represents current management practices of organizing and contextualizing related archival materials.
Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access note
Access is by appointment only, Monday - Thurs., 9:30 am - 4:30 pm. Please contact the archives to make an appointment.
Conditions Governing Use note
Copyright: National Musuem of the American Indian
Preferred Citation note
Donald B. Cordry photographs and negatives, 1933-1940, National Museum of the American Indian Archives, Smithsonian Institution (negative, slide or catalog number).
National Museum of the American Indian
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