- Collection ID:
Densmore, Frances, 1867-1957
- Physical Description:
Papers include: diaries and extracts from diaries, account books, a scrapbook, letters received, lectures, reminiscences and brief manuscripts, field and work reports, notes on recording techniques and the preservation of Native American music, musical transcriptions, bibliographic notes, library items, tone photographs, a mouth organ (pitch pipe), and a slide rule.
Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The Frances Densmore papers, 1893-circa 1955 include: diaries and extracts from diaries, account books, a scrapbook, letters received, lectures, reminiscences and brief manuscripts, field and work reports, notes on recording techniques and the preservation of Native American music, musical transcriptions, bibliographic notes, library items, tone photographs, a mouth organ (pitch pipe), and a slide rule.
Frances Densmore was born on May 21, 1867 in Red Wing, Minnesota. Trained in piano, organ, and harmony at the Oberlin Conservatory and in counterpoint at Harvard University, Densmore began studying American Indian music in 1893 with the encouragement of Alice Fletcher. Under the auspices of the Bureau of American Ethnology (B.A.E.) from 1907 to 1933 and from 1939 until her death, Densmore traveled around the United States recording and studying the music of various tribes. Her publications include
Teton Sioux Music
American Indians and their Music
. She passed away on June 5, 1957 in Red Wing, Minnesota.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Presented to the Bureau of American Ethnology (B.A.E.) by Frances Densmore at intervals, 1944-1955. Some materials received from the Densmore estate, circa 1962.
Inventory last updated by Anna M. Kerns, July 1998.
Finding aid encoded from a MARC collection-level record in 2009-2011. Revisions to the EAD were encoded by Katherine Madison in 2017.
Frances Densmore's song recordings were transferred to the Library of Congress.
The numerous ethnographic manuscripts submitted to the B.A.E. at intervals by Frances Densmore are individually catalogued under the following tribal or geographic headings: Acoma, Alaska, Alibamu, British Columbia, Chippewa, Choctaw, Cuna, Dakota, Iroquois, Menominee, Omaha, Papago, Quileute, Seminole, Winnebago, Yuman, and Zunu.
Five photographic portraits of Densmore (previously Item 1) have been separated out and added to the Portraits of anthropologists collection (Photo Lot 33).
The following three photographic albums, received from the Densmore estate, circa 1962, have been filed by tribe in the Source Prints Collection under B.A.E. No. 4250 (pt.):
(1) "Photographs taken among the Northern Ute by F. Densmore," on two trips, 1914 and 1916. Includes notation by Densmore as to nature of her work and list of captions for photographs. Album, 34 pp. (Several of the photographs were published in B.A.E. Bull. 75, "Northern Ute Music".) Frances Densmore appears in group photograph, p. 23(b).
(2) "Photographs and postcards of a western trip by F. Densmore," from two trips, 1923 and 1926, among the Indians at Neah Bay, Washington. (Results of two trips presented in Nootka and Quileute Music, B.A.E. Bull. 124.) Album, 70 pp. (See pp. 55 and 61 for photgraphs of Frances Densmore.)
(3) "Photographs taken at Neah Bay, Washington, and in hop-picking camp near Chilliwack, B.C., " 1926. Includes photographs taken by Frances Densmore, by C.A. Clay (a newspaper man from Seattle, Washington), and several by Asahel Curtis. Notation by Densmore on nature of her work and various captions supplied by Densmore. (Results of trip presented in B.A.E. Bull. 124, op. cit. and B.A.E. Bull. 136, No. 27, "Music of the Indians of British Columbia.") Album, 45 pp. See page 39 for photograph of Densmore's sister Margaret and Indians).
Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
The Frances Densmore papers are open for research.
Access to the Frances Densmore papers requires an appointment.
Conditions Governing Use
Manuscript 4250 Frances Densmore papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
National Anthropological Archives
Museum Support Center
4210 Silver Hill Road
Suitland, Maryland 20746