National Anthropological Archives

James Mooney photographs, circa 1872-1920

Collection ID:
Mooney, James, 1861-1921
circa 1872-1920
Physical Description:
11.75 Linear feet
Photographic prints: albumen, gelatin silver Negatives: glass, cellulose nitrate

Scope and Contents note
Scope and Contents note
Photographs made during James Mooney's fieldwork with Apache, Arapaho, Caddo, Cherokee, Cheyenne, Comanche, Dakota/Lakota, Hopi, Kiowa, Navaho, Powhatan, and Wichita communities, as well as in Mexico. Photographs document individuals and families, gatherings, ceremonies and dances, daily activities, games, crafts, landscapes, and burials.
Please note that the contents of the collection and the language and terminology used reflect the context and culture of the time of its creation. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology and considered offensive today. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution or Anthropology Archives, but is available in its original form to facilitate research.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
James Mooney (1861-1921) was an American ethnographer whose research focused on Native North Americans. The son of Irish Catholic immigrants, Mooney was born in Richmond, Indiana. His formal education was limited to the public schools of the city; most of his knowledge of anthropology and ethnography was self-taught, largely through his field experience working with various Native communities.
In 1885, Mooney began working for the Smithsonian Institution's Bureau of American Ethnology (BAE) under John Wesley Powell. There, he carried out ethnographic research for more than 30 years. He was a very early adopter of photography and made thouands of photographs in the course of his fieldwork.
Mooney married Ione Lee Gaut in 1897, and had six children. He died in 1921 in Washington, D.C. from heart disease.
For fuller biographies of Mooney see George Ellison's introduction to the 1992 edition of Mooney's History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees, as well as The Indian Man: A Biography of James Mooney by L.G. Moses (2002).
February 10, 1861
Graduated high school, then taught public school for 1 year
Joined the staff of The Richmond Palladium
April 1885
Joined the Bureau of American Ethnology (BAE)
May-June 1885
Worked with Cherokee Chief N. J. Smith on Eastern Cherokee grammar
Summer 1886
Worked with Chief Smith (in D.C.)
Summer 1887
First trip to the Eastern Cherokee of the Great Smokey Mountains to study language, collect material culture, and document activities including the Green Corn Dance and Cherokee ball games (3.5 months)
Winter/Spring 1888
Studied Iroquoian and Algonquian synonymies and published articles on the Irish and the Cherokee, collected and studied Cherokee sacred formulae
Visit to Cherokee (worked with Swimmer, worked on his maps of place names/mound sites, witnessed ball play and the Green Corn Dance, gathered plants and collected objects for the Smithsonian
December 1890
Visited Oklahoma Territory to complete research with Western Cherokee, witnessed the Ghost Dance at the Cheyenne/Arapaho Reservation for the first time
"The Sacred Formulas of the Cherokee" published
Visit to Cherokee in Oklahoma Territory
April 1891
Delegated to collect material for Chicago Exposition. Collected for the next 2 years while studying the Ghost Dance
May 1891
Photographed Kiowa Mescal (Peyote) Ceremony
Headed west for a four month collecting trip for the Chicago exposition, commissioned model tipis and summer houses from the Kiowa
Observed/participated in three ghost dances during three seasons of fieldwork among Arapaho, Sioux, Kiowa, and Cheyenne communities
Photographed Kiowa Mescal (Peyote) Ceremony and Oglala Sioux Ghost Dance
Winter 1892
Began intensive field study of Kiowa winter counts and Kiowa heraldry
Among the Navajo and Hopi, making collections for Chicago Exposition
Fall 1893
Returned to Oklahoma Territory to observe and record Arapaho Sun Dance. Also studied the Hopi Kachina Dance, the Wichita Corn Dance, and possibly also the Arapaho Ghost Dance
May 1895
"Siouan Tribes of the East" published
Trip to the Southwest, visited Hopi and Navajo communities
"The Ghost Dance Religion and the Sioux Outbreak of 1890" published
January 1897
At Anadarko
September 28, 1897
Married Ione Lee Gaut
Fall 1898
Trip to Southwest, visited Hopi and Navajo communities
Attended Omaha Fair, helped plan 'Congress of Indians', supervised Frank Rinehart, who photographed many of the Indian delegates to the fair
Calendar History of the Kiowa Indians published
Fall 1899
For three weeks in the fall traveled with DeLancey Gill to William Co, VA to study and photograph Mattapony and Pamunkey communities; Gill took pictures while Mooney did census work before traveling to the Chickahominy River
Myths of the Cherokee published
Spring 1900
Studied communities of the Powhatan Confederacy in VA; traveled to VA again with Gill to visit the Pamunkey and Mattapony communities for more pictures and to complete census, then traveled to area south of Portsmouth to find the rural settlement of the Nansemond.
Fall 1901
Cooperative agreement with Field Museum and J. Owen Dorsey; Studied Kiowa for BAE, studied Cheyenne for Field Museum (focused on heraldry). This project, with Dorsey working on Arapaho, continued until 1906
Fieldwork on heraldry with Kiowa and Apache communities all year except for two brief visits to Washington, D.C. in September and November
July 1903
Mooney and Dorsey study Sun Dance on Cheyenne reservation in Oklahoma Territory, brought staff photographer Charles Carpenter. Spent a week attending the Sun Dance and made the first photographs of the skull-dragging ceremony
October 1903
Photographed Arapaho Tomahawk Dance
Winter 1903
At the Cheyenne-Arapaho agency in Darlington; winter spent with Cheyenne, and finishing Kiowa tipi models for the Bureau's exhibit at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition
March 1904
At Mount Scott with Kiowa
June 1904
St. Louis Exposition opens
April 1906
Last visit to Cheyenne
Summers, 1911-1916
Visits to Cherokee
Assisted with charting the Native American Church of Oklahoma (the Secretary of the Interior issued a ban on his research)
June 28, 1918
Requested by Fewkes to study peyote cult and Kiowa Heraldry (see Mooney Papers, Box 1, Letters, statement dated 1921)
December 22, 1921

Eden Orelove, Gina Rappaport
Processing Information
Abby Clouse-Radigan carried out initial sorting of the prints and negatives and compiled the timeline in 2011. Eden Orelove processed the Kiowa series in 2015. Gina Rappaport completed processing in 2021.
Mooney photographs previously filed in Photo Lot 78, Photo Lot 24, and the "Vintage Prints" collection have been reunited and merged with Photo Lot 74. Mooney's glass negatives remain integrated into the BAE glass negative collection, but have been intellectually arranged in this finding aid. It should be noted that not all negatives have associated prints, and some prints do not have associated negatives; therefore, both the prints and the negatives may need to be consulted to view all of the images.
The item numbers for the photographs can be confusing as Mooney, the BAE, and the NAA employed various numbering systems for photographs over the years, all of which are present in the collection. Mooney's numbers include a number followed by a superscript, underlined number. The "base" number is the series indicator and the superscript number is the item number in the series. Other numbers relate to whether a copy negative was made, and several of the series include new numbers assigned based on series.item, for example KW4.2 indicates item 2 in Kiowa subseries 4. For several of the series there are spreadsheets available in the repository with numbers cross referenced.
Collection and image descriptions provided in this finding aid were compiled using the best available sources of information. Such sources include the creator's annotations or descriptions, collection accession files, primary and secondary source material and subject matter experts. For the Kiowa series, many of the identifications of individuals were made by consulting A Guide to the Kiowa Collections at the Smithsonian Institution , by William L. Merrill, Marian Kaulaity Hansson, Candace Greene and Frederick J. Reuss. John Peabody Harrington's notes (largely informed by Delos K. Lonewolf) on many of the prints were also incorporated in the Kiowa series.
Because there is no consistent spelling of individual names throughout the collection, all diacritics have been removed in an effort to maintain a systemic accuracy. While every effort was made to provide accurate information, it is understood that errors may reveal themselves following review by other subject experts, and new information is welcome.

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 74, James Mooney photographs, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Mexico Geographic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Apache Cultural Context Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Caddo Cultural Context Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cherokee Cultural Context Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Diné (Navajo) Cultural Context Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Inunaina (Arapaho) Cultural Context Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kiowa Cultural Context Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Niuam (Comanche) Cultural Context Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Powhatan Cultural Context Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dakota (Eastern Sioux) Cultural Context Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Tsitsistas/Suhtai (Cheyenne) Cultural Context Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Wichita Cultural Context Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lenape (Delaware) Cultural Context Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mattaponi Cultural Context Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Pamunkey Cultural Context Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Nansemond Cultural Context Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Chickahominy Cultural Context Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

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