- Collection ID:
Miller, Fred E., 1868-1936
No linguistic content; Not applicable
- Physical Description:
132 glass plate negatives
145 acetate negatives
This collection contains photographs depicting Apsáalooke (Crow/Absaroke) people on the reservation in Montana. The photographs were shot by Fred E. Miller, a Bureau of Indian Affairs clerk circa 1898-1910.
Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
This collection contains 132 glass plate negatives and 65 prints (plus 145 acetate copy negatives and 148 contact prints) that were shot by Fred E. Miller circa 1898-1910 and depict Apsáalooke (Crow/Absaroke) people and their reservation in Montana. The bulk of the photographs depict outdoor portraits of individuals and families. Other photographs depict encampments and scenes of daily life and activities on the reservation. Most individuals in the photographs are identified, including Chief Plenty Coups, Chief Holds the Enemy, Chief Two Leggings, and Chief Medicine Crow. Other portraits depict Apsáalooke scouts from General George Armstrong Custer's 7th Cavalry including Curley, White Swan, and Harry Moccasin. A few photographs also depict portraits of Cheyenne and Lakota people.
Some images are restricted due to cultural sensitivity, such as scenes of burials and ceremonies.
Fred Miller's negatives were often misattributed to William Wildschut who worked as a field collector for the Museum of the American Indian and photographed Apsáalooke people from 1917-1928. Please see the Immediate Source of Acquisition and Related Materials notes for more information.
This collection is intellectually arranged into 3 series by subject and restrictions.
The collection is physically arranged according to photo type. The glass plate negatives are arranged in boxes according to size; the acetate film boxes are arranged in a separate set of boxes first by collection #, then by catalog #; and the prints and contact prints are organized first by collection #, then in folders by catalog #.
Born in Chicago in 1868, Fred E. Miller learned photography in Iowa and went on to operate a photo studio in Nebraska and Iowa. In 1896 he moved to Helena, Montana and served as a civil service clerk for the Bureau of Indian Affairs on the Apsáalooke (Crow/Absaroke) Reservation and 1898 he became the land clerk for the Crow Agency. Miller lived among and photographed the Apsáalooke people, learned to speak the language, and was officially adopted into the nation in 1905. He also acted in other roles periodically including as superintendent, U.S. commissioner, and justice of the peace.
He married Emma Smith Miller (1883-1920, Shawnee) in 1905 and they had four children Hulda Mignon Miller (1906-1991), Edwin H. Miller (1908-1988), Robert A. Miller (1910-1966), and Ruth Miller (1912-1976). In 1910, Miller left his Bureau position, and tried his hand at cattle ranching in Hardin, Montana. He died in 1936 and his collection of 500 of his glass plate negatives were sold by court order at public auction.
Processing Information note
Collection procesed by Emily Moazami, Supervisory Archivist, 2019.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Collected by William Wildschut for the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation in 1928. From 1921-1928, Wildschut was a field man for the MAI and collected material from Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Canada, and North Dakota on behalf of the Museum. Wildschut most likely collected these photographs directly from Fred Miller in Montana.
Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access note
Access is by appointment only, Monday - Friday, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm. Please contact the archives to make an appointment.
Preferred Citation note
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Fred E. Miller photograph collection, NMAI.AC.108, Catalog #. National Museum of the American Indian Archives, Smithsonian Institution.
Conditions Governing Use
and NMAI Archive Center's Digital Image request
Conditions Governing Use note
Some photographs in this collection are RESTRICTED due to Cultural Sensitivity.
The NMAI also holds the William Wildschut photograph collection
, NMAI.AC.001.033. This collection contains photographs that were were shot by Wildschut between 1917 and 1928 and depict depict Apsáalooke (Crow/Absaroke) people and the reservation.
The Montana Historical Society also holds a Fred E. Miller collection (collection number: MC 434)
It appears that the Museum of the American Indian staff created contact prints from the original glass plate negatives. They then photographed those contact prints onto acetate negatives and then printed a new set of contact prints from those acetate negatives. In some instances where the museum did not have the original glass negative, staff used Miller prints to create new copy negatives.
National Museum of the American Indian
4220 Silver Hill Rd