National Anthropological Archives

Portraits of John Wesley Powell, circa 1890

Collection ID:
circa 1890
Physical Description:
5 Prints
albumen, silver gelatin, and platinum

Scope and Contents note
Scope and Contents note
Enlarged prints made from studio portraits of John Wesley Powell. One of the portraits is by Charles Parker of Washington, D. C.

Biographical/Historical note
Biographical/Historical note
John Wesley Powell (1834-1902) was born in Mount Morris, New York. In 1838, he moved with his family to Southern Ohio, where he was mentored by amateur naturalist George Crookham. The family again moved, this time to Wisconsin, before finally settling in Illinois in 1851. There, Powell worked as a schoolteacher and attended several colleges, though he never received a degree. He also collected fossils and studied geology during trips to areas along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. Powell enlisted in the army at the start of the Civil War. His right arm was amputated after he sustained an injury at the Battle of Shiloh. Powell was promoted to second lieutenant and later to major during his army tenure. At the end of the war, Powell taught natural sciences at Illinois Wesleyan University and Illinois State Normal University. He became curator of the Illinois Natural History Society Museum in 1867. During this time, Powell continued to organize expeditions, including studies of the Colorado River and the Native American tribes of the region (in 1869 and in 1871-1872). With government funding, his second expedition produced the first reliable maps of the river. As a result, Powell published a book, Exploration of the Colorado River of the West and Its Tributaries: Explored in 1869, 1870, 1871, and 1872 Under the Direction of the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution (1875), which was reprinted as Canyons of the Colorado in 1895. Powell was appointed director of the Bureau of American Ethnology at its inception in 1879, a position he held until his death. He also served as director of the US Geological Survey from 1881-1894.

Sarah Ganderup

Local Call Number(s)
Local Call Number(s)
NAA Photo Lot 68

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access note
The collection is open for research.
Access to the collection requires an appointment.
Conditions Governing Use note
Contact the repository for terms of use.
Preferred Citation note
Photo lot 68, Portraits of John Wesley Powell, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution

Location of Other Archival Materials
Location of Other Archival Materials
Additional portraits of Powell held in National Anthropological Archives Photo Lot 33 and Photo Lot 39.
Location of Other Archival Materials
The National Anthropological Archives also holds Powell's journals, 1869-1872 (MS 1795ab), his honors, 1869-1904 (MS 7249), his monthly and annual reports as director of the Bureau of American Ethnology, 1894-1897 (MS 4735), and other manuscript collections relating to Powell's ethnological research and his work with the BAE.

More Information

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Photographs Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Parker, Charles Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Powell, John Wesley, 1834-1902 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
National Anthropological Archives
Museum Support Center
4210 Silver Hill Road
Suitland, Maryland 20746