Scope and Contents note
Title: Frances Densmore Papers
Identifier/Call Number: MS.557
Autry National Center, Braun Research Library
Language of Material:
0.75 Linear feet
Date (bulk): Bulk, 1907-1957
Date (inclusive): 1899-1961
Frances Densmore was an American ethnographer and ethnomusicologist born in 1867 in Red Wing, Minnesota. She wrote more than
20 books and 100 articles. She also made more than 2,000 wax cylinder recordings of Native music, including recordings for
the Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology (BAE) in 1907. Densmore died on June 5, 1957 at the age of 90. The
Francis Densmore Papers
consist of manuscripts, correspondence, newspaper clippings, and ephemera from 1899-1961. The bulk of the material was created
Bunche, Ralph J. (Ralph Johnson), 1904-1971.
Densmore, Frances, 1867-1957
Hewett, Edgar L. (Edgar Lee), 1865-1946
Hodge, Frederick Webb, 1864-1956
James, George Wharton, 1858-1923
Mead, Margaret, 1901-1978
Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962.
Frances Densmore Papers, 1899-1961, Braun Research Library Collection, Autry National Center, Los Angeles; MS.557; [folder number] [folder title][date].
Correspondence in Folder 10 not to be copied or cited per donor agreement.
Collection is open for research. Appointments to view materials are required. To make an appointment please visit http://theautry.org/research/research-rules-and-application
or contact library staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frances Densmore was an American ethnographer and ethnomusicologist. Born in 1867 in Red Wing, Minnesota, Densmore became
interested in Native American music after reading about the ethnomusicology of the Omaha tribe. She began her work in Minnesota
by studying and recording the music of the Dakota and Ojibwe tribes. She also traveled across North America where she met
with the Chippewa, Mandan, Hidatsa, Sioux, northern Pawnee of Oklahoma, Papago of Arizona, Indians of Washington state and
British Columbia, Winnebago and Menominee of Wisconsin, Pueblo Indians of the Southwest, and the Tule Indians of Panama. She
conducted fieldwork using a box camera and a cylinder phonograph. She wrote more than 20 books and 100 articles. She also
made more than 2,000 wax cylinder recordings of Native music, including recordings for the Smithsonian Institution, Bureau
of American Ethnology (BAE) in 1907. She frequently published articles in the journals
American Anthropologist and the Southwest Museum’s
Masterkey publication. Densmore is especially noted for her recordings of Native American music and documenting their culture at a
time when white settlers were moving into Native lands and encouraging tribes to adopt Western customs. Densmore died on June
5, 1957 at the age of 90.
Scope and Contents note
This collections consists of materials dating from 1899-1961, the bulk of which was created from 1907-1957. Included are lectures
and writings by Densmore on Native American music; melodic analysis of seventy-five Cheyenne and Arapaho songs; correspondence
with Frederick Webb Hodge; letters to Densmore; published articles by Densmore in newspapers and journals; and writings about
Densmore's work, life, and health. The collection also includes an original drawing by Eagle Shield that was included in Densmore's
Teton Sioux Music publication.
Copyright has not been assigned to the Braun Research Library at the Autry National Center. All requests for permission to
publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Autry Archivist. Permission for publication is given
on behalf of the Autry National Center as the custodian of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission
of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.
The papers of Frances Densmore were compiled individually by Frances Densmore, Dr. Joseph Amasa Munk and Southwest Museum
staff, particularly Dr. Frederick Webb Hodge and Fred Kimpton Hinchman. Some material was also acquired through the Library's
General Acquisitions Fund. The papers were deposited to the Southwest Museum Library, currently known as the Braun Research
Library, before 1978.
Processed by Glenna Schroeder, circa 1977-1981. Finding aid updated by Anna Liza Posas 2012 April 6. Final processing of collection
and publication of finding aid made possible by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).
- Series 1: Correspondence,1910-1953
- Series 2: Manuscripts and music analysis, 1899-1954
- Series 3: Lectures, 1935-19338
- Series 4: Publications about Densmore, 1936-1957
- Series 5: Publications by Densmore, 1907-1954
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Smithsonian Institution. Bureau of American Ethnology.
Southwest Museum (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Arapaho Indians -- Music
Cheyenne Indians -- Music
Indians of North America -- Music
Indians of North America -- Washington (State)
Tohono O'odham Indians