National Anthropological Archives

MS 3898 Materials relating to Powellʹs alphabet for recording Indian languages

Collection ID:
Smithsonian Institution. Bureau of American Ethnology
McGee, W J, 1853-1912
Boas, Franz, 1858-1942
Harrington, John Peabody, 1884-1961
Hodge, Frederick Webb, 1864-1956
Hewitt, J. N. B. (John Napoleon Brinton), 1859-1937
Powell, John Wesley, 1834-1902
Whitney, William Dwight, 1827-1894
Mason, Otis Tufton, 1838-1908
Gibbs, George, 1815-1873
Pilling, James Constantine, 1846-1895
Gatschet, Albert S. (Albert Samuel), 1832-1907
Ca. 1877; and 1903-1911
Physical Description:
1 Portfolio

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
Folder 1: Powell to Whitney, July 17, 1877 (Copy) Whiteney to Powell, July 25, 1877 (Draft) Powell to Whitney, July 31, 1877 (Draft) List of vowel and consonant symbols, with definitions, from Whitney (so identified in George Gibb's hand--MCB); undated copy of draft of Whitneyʹs manuscript which is also in the Yale manuscripts. It was subsequently published, slightly revised and attributed to Whitney as "On the alphabet," page 306 of Powellʹs Introduction . . ., 1877. 11 pages.
Scope and Contents
Folder 2: Photographic copies of all Powell-Whitney correspondence in Yale University Library, secured by W. C. Sturtevant after visit of November 4, 1960 (Stirling Memorial Library, Yale University, Historical Manuscripts Collections, W. D. Whitney (1827-1894) collection): Powell to Whitney, July 17, 1877, 15 pages. Enclosure in above : untitled manuscript by W. D. W., describing alphabet for Indian languages. 22 pages. Powell to Whitney, July 31, 1877, 6 pages letter and 6 pages tables of symbols. Powell to Whitney, August 27, 1877, 2 pages (transmitting 2 copies of printed alphabet, not present).
Scope and Contents
Folder 3: 3 drafts of Powellʹs alphabet with introduction, undated. "Suggestions from I. (?) Porter", May 12, (no year) re Whitneyʹs orthographic proposals. 2 pages. O. T. Masonʹs note on Powellʹs and Whitneyʹs orthography, 2 pages. 2 unsigned copies of letter to William Dwight Whitney, May 7th, 1877, labelled "O. T. Mason," on US Geographic & Geologic Survey Rocky Mountains letterhead paper--written in phonetic orthography, one (marked "q") in Whitneyʹs orthography, and the other (marked "r" in Masonʹs modification, 2 pages each.
Scope and Contents
Folder 4: Several sheets on orthography, unsigned, undated, marked "Gibbs," "Pilling," "Gatschet," etc. and apparently received from them. The manuscript copy in Gibbsʹ hand marked "Pickeringʹs alphabet" is summarized from pages 35-36 of "An essay on a uniform orthography for the Indian languages of North America," by John Pickering, Cambridge, University Press, 1820 (reprint from Memoirs of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences volume 4, art.22)(BAE Library PM 211.P5). The Dakota alphabet in Gibb's hand is a copy from Riggs, Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge, 4, 1852.
Scope and Contents
Folder 5: Printed materials: Clipping, definition of symbols "from the manual or circular sent out by Gibbs, George . . . . 1863" two copies printed sheet "The Origin of our alphabet," copyright 1877 by J. Enthoffer Newspaper clipping re Melville Bellʹs "Universal Alphabet," March 17, 1876.
Scope and Contents
Folder 6: McGee to Boas, May 27, 1903 (Copy); Boas to McGee, May 28, 1903; McGee to Boas, June 16, 1903; J. P. Harrington to F. W. Hodge, January 11, 1910; J. P. Harrington to F. W. Hodge, January 16, 1910 (two letters, this date); Hodge to Harrington, January 20, 1910; Harrington to Hodge, September 30, 1911; Hewitt to Hodge, October 16, 1911 re Harringtonʹs proposals; Hodge to Harrington, October 18, 1911.

Using the Collection
Manuscript 3898, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution

More Information
Local Numbers
Local Numbers
NAA MS 3898

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Alphabet -- phonetic Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Language and languages -- Documentation Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Porter, I. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Pickering, John, 1777-1846 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

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