National Museum of the American Indian

Daguerreotype of Peter Wilson

Collection ID:
Thomas, Philip E. (Philip Evan), 1776-1861
circa 1852-1855
Physical Description:
1 Daguerreotypes (photographs)
Daguerreotype of Dr. Peter Wilson (Cayuga) given to Philip Evan Thomas.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
This collection contains 1 daguerreotype depicting Peter Wilson (Cayuga) circa 1852-1855 housed in a leather case. A handwritten note from Wilson inside the case reads, "Peter Wilson --- Wa-o-wa-wa-na-onk to his friend P.E. Thomas--- Sa-ga-oh." Wilson most likely gifted this daguerreotype to Philip Evans Thomas (1776-1861).

This daguerreotype is housed in an archival phase box.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Dr. Peter Wilson (1815-1872), also known as Wa-o-wa-wa-na-onk, was born on the Buffalo Reservation in New York, but subsequently spent a good amount of his life on the Cattaraugus Reservation. Wilson was a signatory to the Second Buffalo Creek Treaty of 1838, in which he was included with a group of Cayuga Warriors, but would later give speeches advocating for fair compensation to members of the Six Nations who had lost much of their land in this and other treaties. Among the speeches were two delivered to the New York Senate in 1848 and 1850.
Peter Wilson earned a medical degree from Geneva Medical College in 1844 and appears to have served as an Assistant Surgeon with the United States Army, either during or soon after the Civil War. He also spent time as the interpreter for the New York Agency of the Office of Indian Affairs.
Philip Evan Thomas (1776-1861) was the first president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B and O). He also served as chairman of the Society's Indian Affairs Committee and was the representative to Washington for the Six Nations of Indians, where he most likely met and befriended Dr. Wilson.

Emily Moazami
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The immediate source of acquisition is unknown.
Processing Information
Collection processed by Emily Moazami, Supervisory Archivist, 2020.

Digital Content

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
Access to NMAI Archives Center collections is by appointment only, Monday - Friday, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm. Please contact the archives to make an appointment (phone: 301-238-1400, email:
Preferred Citation
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Daguerreotype of Peter Wilson, P25296, NMAI.AC.405; National Museum of the American Indian Archives Center, Smithsonian Institution.
Conditions Governing Use
Permission to publish materials from the collection must be requested from National Museum of the American Indian Archives Center. Please submit a written request to For personal or classroom use, users are invited to download, print, photocopy, and distribute the images that are available online without prior written permission, provided that the files are not modified in any way, the Smithsonian Institution copyright notice (where applicable) is included, and the source of the image is identified as the National Museum of the American Indian. For more information please see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use and NMAI Archive Center's Digital Image request website.

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Cayuga Cultural Context Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photograph. Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Wilson, Peter (Cayuga) Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
National Museum of the American Indian
4220 Silver Hill Rd
Suitland, Maryland 20746-2863