Guide to MS 4800 James O. Dorsey papers,
circa 1870-1956, bulk 1870-1895
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
NAA.MS4800
Creators:
Dorsey, James Owen, 1848-1895
Dates:
circa 1870-1956
bulk 1870-1895
Languages:
Multiple languages
Collection is in
English
and various
Siouan-Catawba
,
Athapascan
,
Kusan
,
Takilman
,
Yakonan
, and
Caddoan
languages and dialects.
Physical Description:
30 Linear feet
70 boxes, 1 oversized box, 20 manuscript envelopes, 4 rolled maps, and 23 map folders
Repository:
Reverend James Owen Dorsey (1848-1895) was a missionary and Bureau of American Ethnology ethnologist who conducted extensive research on Siouan tribes and languages.The papers of James Owen Dorsey comprise mostly ethnographic and linguistic materials on various tribes of the Siouan language family as well as tribes from Siletz Reservation in Oregon. These materials include texts and letters with interlineal translations; grammar notes; dictionaries; drawings; and his manuscripts. In addition, the collection contains Dorsey's correspondence, newspaper clippings, his obituaries, and reprints.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
This collection contains James O. Dorsey's research and writings as a BAE ethnologist, as well as his earlier work as a missionary among the Ponca. The vast majority of the collection pertains to his research on Siouan-Catawban languages, including the Dakota and Dhegiha languages, Chiwere, Winnebago, Mandan, Hidatsa, Tutelo, Biloxi, and Catawba. His research on Athapascan, Kusan, Takilman, and Yakonan languages from his field work at Siletz Reservation are also present, as well as some notes on the Caddoan languages. Dorsey's research files include linguistic and ethnological field notes, reading notes, stories and myths, vocabularies, drawings, and unpublished and published manuscripts. The collection also contains Omaha, Ponca, Quapaw, and Biloxi dictionaries that he compiled and materials relating to his work editing Steven Riggs' Dakota-English Dictionary. Additional noteworthy materials in the collection are Teton texts and drawings from George Bushotter and drawings by Stephen Stubbs (Kansa), Pahaule-gagli (Kansa), and George Miller (Omaha). The collection also contains Dorsey's correspondence, newspaper clippings, obituaries, and his collection of reprints.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is organized into 6 series: 1) Siouan; 2) Siletz Reservation; 3) Caddoan; 4) General Correspondence; 5) Personal Papers; 6) Miscellaneous & Reprints.

Biographical Note
Biographical Note
Reverend James Owen Dorsey (1848-1895) was a missionary and Bureau of American Ethnology ethnologist who conducted extensive research on Siouan tribes and languages.
Dorsey was born on October 31, 1848 in Baltimore, Maryland. He exhibited a talent for languages at an early age. At age 6 he learned the Hebrew alphabet and was able to read the language at age 10. In 1867 Dorsey attended the Theological Seminary of Virginia and was ordained a deacon of the Protestant Episcopal Church in 1871. In May of that year, Dorsey traveled to the Dakota Territory to serve as a missionary among the Ponca. Plagued by ill health, Dorsey was forced to end his missionary work in August 1873. By that time, however, he had learned the Ponca language well enough to converse with members of the tribe without an interpreter.
Dorsey returned to Maryland and engaged in parish work while continuing his studies of Siouan languages. His linguistic talents and knowledge of these languages attracted the attention of Major John Wesley Powell. Powell arranged for Dorsey to work among the Omaha in Nebraska from 1878 to 1880 to collect linguistic and ethnological notes. When the Bureau of American Ethnology (BAE) was established in 1879, Powell recruited Dorsey to join the staff.
As an ethnologist for the BAE, Dorsey continued his research on Siouan tribes. His studies focused on languages but also included Siouan personal names, folklore, social organization, religion, beliefs, and customs. He conducted fieldwork among the Tutelo at Six Nations on Grand River in Upper Canada (1882); the Kansa, Osage, and Quapaw in Indian Territory (1883-1884); the Biloxi at Lecompte, Rapides Parish, Louisiana (1892); and again with the Quapaw at the Quapaw Mission (1894). He also worked with Native Americans that visited DC, including George Bushotter (Teton), Philip Longtail (Winnebago), Samuel Fremont (Omaha), and Little Standing Buffalo (Ponca). He also spent time at Siletz Reservation in 1884 to collect linguistic notes on the Athapascan, Kusan, Takilman, and Yakonan stocks.
In addition to his research, Dorsey helped found the American Folklore Society and served as the first vice-president of the association. He also served as vice-president of Section H of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
At the age of 47, Dorsey died of typhoid fever on February 4, 1895.
Sources Consulted
1st-16th Annual Reports of the Bureau of American Ethnology. 1881-1897.
Hewitt, J.N.B. 1895. "James Owen Dorsey" American Anthropologist A8, 180-183.
McGee, W.J. 1895. "In Memoriam." Journal of American Folklore 8(28): 79-80.
1848
Born on October 31 in Baltimore, Maryland.
1871
Ordained a deacon of the Protestant Episcopal Church.
1871-1873
Served as a missionary among the Ponca in Dakota Territory.
1878-1880
Conducted fieldwork among the Omaha in Nebraska.
1879
Joined the staff of the Bureau of American Ethnology.
1882
Conducted fieldwork among the Tutelo at Six Nations on Grand River in Upper Canada.
1883-1884
Conducted fieldwork among the Kansa, Osage, and Quapaw in Indian Territory.
1887
Worked with George Bushotter to record information regarding the language and culture of the Dakota.
1884
Conducted fieldwork at Siletz Reservation.
1892
Conducted fieldwork among the Biloxi at Lecompte, Rapides Parish, Louisiana.
1894
Conducted fieldwork among the Quapaw at the Quapaw Mission in Indian Territory.
1895
Died of typhoid fever on February 4th at the age of 47.

Administration
Processing Information note
Processed by NAA Staff.
Encoded by Nancy Kennedy and Lorain Wang.
Existence and Location of Copies note
Portions of this collection have been microfilmed and digitized. See Dorsey microfilm collection and BAE reels 25 and 45. Digital images are available in SIRIS.
Author
Lorain Wang
Sponsor
Creation of this finding aid was funded through support from the Arcadia Fund. Digitization and preparation of additional materials for online access has been funded also by the National Science Foundation under BCS Grant No. 1561167 and the Recovering Voices initiative at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.

Selected Bibliography
Selected Bibliography
1881. Omaha Sociology. 3rd Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology: 205-370.
1884. Siouan Folk-lore and Mythologic Notes. American Antiquarian and Oriental Journal 6: 174-176.
1885. On the comparative phonology of four Siouan languages. Smithsonian Institution Annual Report for 1883: 912-929.
1886. Migrations of Siouan tribes. American Naturalist 20(3): 211-222.
1888. Osage traditions. 6th Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology: 373-397.
1889. Indians of Siletz Reservation, Oregon. American Anthropologist A2(1): 55-62.
1889. Ponca and Omaha Songs. The Journal of American Folklore 2(7): 271-276.
1889. Teton Folk-lore. American Anthropologist A2(2): 143-158.
1890. The Cegiha Language. Contributions to North American Ethnology 6. Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office.
1890. The Gentile System of the Siletz Tribes. The Journal of American Folklore 3(10): 227-237.
1890 Indian Personal Names. American Anthropologist A3(3): 263-268.
1890. Riggs, Stephen Return. A Dakota-English Dictionary. Contributions to North American Ethnology 7. James Owen Dorsey, ed. Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office.
1891 Omaha and Ponca Letters. Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 11. Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office.
1891. The Social Organization of the Siouan Tribes. Journal of American Folklore 4(14, 15): 257-266, 331-342.
1912 with John Swanton. A Dictionary of the Biloxi and Ofo languages. Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 47. Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office.
1897 Siouan Sociology. 15th Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology: 205-244.
1892. Siouan Onomatopes. American Anthropologist A5(1): 1-8.
1894 A Study of Siouan Cults. 11th Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology: 361-544.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Use
Contact the repository for terms of use.
Conditions Governing Access
The James O. Dorsey Papers are open for research. Access to the James O. Dorsey Papers requires an appointment
Preferred Citation note
Manuscript 4800 James O. Dorsey papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Indians of North America -- Subarctic Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Athapascan Indians Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Catawba Indians Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Language and languages -- Documentation Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hidatsa Indians Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mandan Indians Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Biloxi Indians Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Tutelo Indians Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Iowa Indians Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Chiwere Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Winnebago Indians Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Oto Indians Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Siletz Indian Reservation (Or.) Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Quapaw Indians Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Osage Indians Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ethnology Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dakota Indians Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Siouan Indians Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Teton Indians Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Field notes Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dhegiha Indians Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Assiniboine Indians Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ponca Indians Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Omaha Indians Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Tututni Indians Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kansa Indians Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Siletz Indians Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kusan Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Coos Indians Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Yakonan Indians Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Arctic peoples Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Indians of North America -- Northeast Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Indians of North America -- Northwest Coast of North America Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Indians of North America -- Great Plains Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Indians of North America -- Southeast Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Drawings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Vocabulary Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Folklore Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Social structure Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kinship Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Manners and customs Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Shahaptian languages Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Yakonan languages Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Athapascan languages Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kusan languages Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Linguistics Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Siouan languages Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sermons Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Manuscripts Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Obituaries Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Correspondence Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Takelma Indians Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Newspaper clippings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Klikitat Indians Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dhegiha language Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Chastacosta Indians Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Siuslaw Indians Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hidatsa language Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Omaha language Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dakota language Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Catawba language Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Biloxi language Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Caddoan languages Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Osage language Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Alsea language Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kansa language Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mandan language Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Chastacosta language Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Coquille language Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Tutelo language Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Winnebago language Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Siuslaw language Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Takelma language Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Bushotter, George, 1864-1892 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mooney, James, 1861-1921 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hewitt, J. N. B. (John Napoleon Brinton), 1859-1937 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Riggs, Stephen Return, 1812-1883 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Smithsonian Institution. Bureau of American Ethnology Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Powell, John Wesley, 1834-1902 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gatschet, Albert S. (Albert Samuel), 1832-1907 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
National Anthropological Archives
Museum Support Center
4210 Silver Hill Road
Suitland 20746
naa@si.edu
http://www.anthropology.si.edu/naa/