- Collection ID:
Bonaparte, Roland, prince, 1858-1924
- Physical Description:
138 Mounted prints
5 album boxes
13 Photographic prints
1 album box
64 Photographic prints
1 album box
Photographic portfolios made by Prince Roland Bonaparte in his "Collection Anthropologique" group. The bulk of the collection consists of individual portraits of "Peaux-Rouges" (Omaha Indians), "Kalmouks" (Kalmyks), "Hindous" (Hindus), "Hottentots" (Khoikhoi), Somalis, "Atchinois" (Acehnese), and Surinamese. There are also some images of clothing, dwellings and animals, including camels and horses.
Scope and Contents note
Scope and Contents note
The collection is comprised of nine photographic albums (two are duplicates) of Omaha, Chinese, Kalmyk, Hindu, Hottentot, Somali and Surinamese people that were assembled by Prince Roland Bonaparte and published in a series of albums entitled the "Collection Anthropologique du Prince Roland Bonaparte". Many of the photos were undertaken at various international exhibitions of the late nineteenth century: the Kalmyk and Omaha photographs were executed in Paris at the Jardin d'Acclimatation (1884) and the Hindu, Somali, Surinamese and Chinese photographs were taken during the 1883 Colonial Exposition in Amsterdam.
All of the albums, except for the volume on Surinamese peoples, is comprised of albumen prints. The Surinamese album includes photographs, collotypes, imprints, and text. Each album, except for those of the Hottentot and Surinamese people, is accompanied by an inventory produced by Bonaparte that lists the name, age, job and family lineage of each person.
Within each series the original order was maintained. The photographs are organized by culture groups into seven series:
Series 1: Omahas
Series 2: Chinese
Series 3: Kalmyks
Series 4: Hindus
Series 5: Khoikhoi
Series 6: Somalis
Series 7: Surinamese
Prince Roland Bonaparte (1858-1924) was the grandson of Lucien, the second brother of Napoleon Bonaparte. Forbidden by law to pursue the military career he desired, he turned to geography and other sciences and received anthropological training from Paul Broca. Starting around 1882, he began to create and distribute albums organized by culture group as part of an "anthropological collection of human diversity." He studied the Lapp people in Finland in 1884 and then traveled to Mexico, Canada and, in 1887, the United States to study American Indians. The photograph project ended in the mid-1890s. He also published on other topics including the history of the Dutch colonial empire and glaciers of the French and Swiss Alps.
Bonaparte married Marie Blanc (1859-1882) in 1880 and had a daughter, Princess Marie Bonaparte, in 1882. He served as president of both the Société de géographie (1910-1924) and the Société française de photographie (1920-1922).
Custodial History note
One album, "Collection Anthropologique du Prince Roland Bonaparte : Kalmouks, No 8," was given by the librarian of the "Collection Anthropologique" to the Anthropological Society of Washington, DC. Around 1940, the Anthropological Society gave it to the Bureau of American Ethnology library, which was later merged into the Smithsonian's Department of Anthropology library. It was transferred from the Anthropology library to the National Anthropological Archives in 1978.
Photographs relating to Somali and Khoikhoi (Hottentot) people, were donated to the Department of Anthropology by Roland Bonaparte in 1891, accession no. 024177. Three albums, relating to Omaha, Surinamese, and Hindu people, were donated to the Department of Anthropology by Roland Bonaparte in 1888, accession no. 013991. These were transferred to the Department of Physical Anthropology, which transferred them to the National Anthropological Archives in 1980. Two albums, relating to Kalmouks and Acehnese people, were also transferred at this time and likely came from one of the two accessions, or from the Washington Anthropology Society circa 1880, accession no. 80A00028. The two remaining albums (relating to Hindu and Omaha peoples) were also sent to the Washington Anthropological Society circa 1888. These were transferred to the National Anthropological Archives and were previously filed as "Rare Books" in the collection.
Photo Lot 78-26 and two volumes from the NAA's "Rare Books" have been relocated and merged with Photo Lot 80-52. These photographs were also collected by Roland Bonaparte and form part of this collection.
Description of Somali clothing
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 (i.e. documents, publications, and websites), and subject matter experts. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, it is understood that errors may reveal themselves following review by other subject experts, and new information is welcome.
The descriptions of the Somali garments (series 6) were informed by Heather Marie Akou's article, "Documenting the Origins of Somali Folk Dress: Evidence from the Bonaparte Collection" (2006).
Somali women's clothing
Dress made from three to four yards of fabric, knotted and wrapped around the body
Necklace crafted from large silver, glass or corral beads, among other materials, that has a large crescent-shaped pendant that often has dozens of tiny silver bells suspended from the base
Alternate Forms Available
Glass plate negatives were created from copies of several of the Omaha photographs (series 1) by Delancey Gill, probably for inclusion in the BAE 27th Annual Report.
- Akou, Heather Marie. (2006) "Documenting the Origins of Somali Folk Dress: Evidence from the Bonaparte Collection."
Dress. 33:1 (2006), 7-19.
- Bonaparte, Roland, Prince.
Les Habitants de Suriname. Paris: Imprimerie de A. Quantin, 1884.
- Coutancier, Benoit, ed.
Peaux-Rouges: autour de la collection anthropologique de prince Roland Bonaparte. Thonon-les-Bains: Haute-Savoie: Photothèque du Musée de l'homme, 1992.
- Fletcher, Alice C. and Francis la Flesche. "The Omaha Tribe."
27th Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, 1905-1906. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1911.
Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access note
The collection is open for research.
Access to the collection requires an appointment.
Conditions Governing Use note
Preferred Citation note
Photo lot 80-52, Prince Roland Bonaparte photograph collection of Omaha, Kalmouk, Hindu, Khoikhoi, Somali and Surinamese peoples, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
The Muséum national d'histoire naturelle and the Bibliothèque nationale de France, division of the Collections of Maps and Plans, have related photographs and manuscript materials.
Other Finding Aids note
Other Finding Aids note
Inventory available in repository.
National Anthropological Archives
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