The drawings were purchased by Army surgeon James P. Kimball from a Yanktonai man visiting Fort Buford, Dakota Territory in 1870. Kimball numbered the drawings 1 through 55 and prepared an explanatory text, which identified all the pictures as representing the Hunkpapa leader Sitting Bull. Kimball sent the drawings and index to the Medical Director's Office, Department of Dakota, which marked them received on March 14, 1871; they forwarded them to the Army Medical Museum (AMM) in Washington DC where they were registered March 29, 1871. The AMM transferred the drawings and index together with associated correspondence to the Bureau of American Ethnology (BAE) in May 1915. The original introductory statement by Kimball explaining how he had acquired them is no longer with the collection, however a transcription of it is in the David H. Strother Papers at the archives of the University of West Virginia.
In 1881 the AMM sent the drawings to Fort Randall for comment by Sitting Bull, then held prisoner there, and the collection includes a letter from Reverend John Williamson documenting that interview. Sitting Bull identified the drawings as copies of ones he had made some years previously together with copies of drawings by his adopted brother Jumping Bull. The pictures of Sitting Bull are distinguished by inclusion of a pictorial representation of his name.
Reproductions of a few of the drawings were published in Harper's Weekly in 1876 together with information from the introductory statement and the index, which the author had examined at the AMM. Most of the drawings were published in a biography of Sitting Bull by Walter Campbell, writing under the pen name Stanley Vestal. He provided speculative identifications of each scene and unsupported identification of the original artist as Four Horns. This information was repeated by Matthew Stirling in his 1938 publication Three Pictorgraphic Autobiographies of Sitting Bull, and entered into the catalog record.
This finding aid was reviewed and revised in 2020 based on further research into original sources by Candace Greene (2021), who suggests that the copies may have been made at Fort Buford by the Yanktonai who sold them. The tribal identification of Indian enemies is uncertain, with frequent discrepancies between Kimball, Campbell, and Sitting Bull's own 1881 identifications of events depicted in MS 1929B. The majority of tribal enemies are Assiniboine or Crow.
Porte Crayon. "Sitting Bull - Autobiography of the Famous Sioux Chief" Harpers Weekly, July 29, 1876: 625–628.
Stirling, Matthew W. "Three Pictographic Autobiographies of Sitting Bull," Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections Vol 97, No 5. 1938.
Vestal, Stanley. Sitting Bull, Champion of the Sioux: A Biography. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1932 and Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1957.