Finding Aid to the Frances Densmore Papers MS.557

Finding aid prepared by Glenna Schroeder, Anna Liza Posas
Autry National Center, Braun Research Library
234 Museum Drive
Los Angeles, CA, 90065-5030
323-221-2164
rroom@theautry.org
2012


Title: Frances Densmore Papers
Identifier/Call Number: MS.557
Contributing Institution: Autry National Center, Braun Research Library
Language of Material: English
Physical Description: 0.75 Linear feet (2 boxes)
Date (bulk): Bulk, 1907-1957
Date (inclusive): 1899-1961
Abstract: 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 from 1907-1957.
creator: Bunche, Ralph J. (Ralph Johnson), 1904-1971.
creator: Densmore, Frances, 1867-1957
creator: Hewett, Edgar L. (Edgar Lee), 1865-1946
creator: Hodge, Frederick Webb, 1864-1956
creator: James, George Wharton, 1858-1923
creator: Mead, Margaret, 1901-1978
creator: Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962.

Preferred citation

Frances Densmore Papers, 1899-1961, Braun Research Library Collection, Autry National Center, Los Angeles; MS.557; [folder number] [folder title][date].

Restriction note

Correspondence in Folder 10 not to be copied or cited per donor agreement.

Access

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 rroom@theautry.org.

Biographical note

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.

Use

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.

Custodial history

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.

Processing history

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).

Arrangement

  • 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
Clippings
Correspondence
Dakota Indians
Ethnologists
Ethnomusicologists
Hidatsa Indians
Indians of North America -- Music
Indians of North America -- Washington (State)
Maidu Indians
Mandan Indians
Manuscripts
Musicologists
Ojibwa Indians
Pawnee Indians
Tohono O'odham Indians

 

Correspondence, Series 1:  1910-1953

Box 1, Folder 10

Correspondence, Bulk, 1926-1950 1908, 1926-1950

Scope and contents

This correspondence folder primarily consists of letters to Frances Densmore. It also includes "circular letters" that were mailed to Densmore, but were written for mass distribution.

Restriction note

No copying or quotations allowed, to be used for reference only.

Arrangement

Alphabetically by last name or by type.

Acquisition

Donated by Frances Watkins to the Southwest Museum Library, 1950 September 28.
 

Ackerknecht, Erwin H. 1950 February 17

 

Adams, Harriet Chalmers, 1933 January 3

 

Alexander, H.B. 1936 August 4

 

Aliferis, James, 1949 November 22

 

Altshuler, Ira M. 1944 May 29

 

Alvarez, Walter, 1944 December 2

 

Anderson, August H. 1946 November 6

 

Mary, Austin, 1934

 

Buck, Solon J. 1942 November 28

 

Busch, Carl, 1932 May 20

 

Camp, Charles L. 1947 April 7

 

Cole, Fay-Cooper, 1933 April 28

 

Collier, John 1937 27 December

Scope and contents

Letter is from Collier to Honorable Elmer Thomas. The letter is concerning Densmore's work with the Bureau of American Ethnology.
 

Cooke, James Francis, 1941 July 9

 

Dobie, J. Frank, 1937 May 12

 

Emrich, Duncan, 1950 June 20

 

Fagg, William, 1950 September 4

Scope and contents

Letter from England.
 

Gamio, Dr. Manuel, 1950 September 4

Scope and contents

Letter from Mexico.
 

Hand, Wayland D. 1949 June 8

 

Hanson, Howard, 1946 December 9

 

D'Harnoncourt, Rene, 1942 November 4

 

Herskovits, Melville J. 1949 December 6

 

Herzog, George, 1946 December 19

 

Hewett, Edgar L. 1933 May 7

 

Heye George G. 1945 November 27

 

Heynik, J. 1947 May 5

Scope and contents

Typed copy of letter. Letter from the Netherlands.
 

Hotz, Gottfried 1945 December 19

Scope and contents

Typed copy of letter. Letter from Switzerland.
 

Huntington, Frances Carpenter, 1941 December 16

 

James, George Wharton 1908 January 25

Scope and contents

Typed copy of letter.
 

Jenness, Diamond, 1934 January 13

Scope and contents

Letter from Canada.
 

Judd, Neil M. 1947 July 10

 

Kelley, Mrs. Edgar Stillman, 1929 March 19

 

Kroeber, Alfred L. 1944 September 28

 

Leake, Chauncey D. 1946 October 16

 

Linton, Ralph, 1942 October 6

 

Lowie, Robert H. 1933 May 1

 

Lundeen, Ernest, 1937 March 4

 

Mason, J. Alden, 1947 June 26

 

Mayson, Christopher, 1926 January 19

Scope and contents

Letter from England.
 

Mencken, H. L. (Henry Louis), September 28

Scope and contents

Year of letter unknown.
 

Metfessel, Milton, 1926 July 28

 

Menzies, P.T.O. 1939 October 23

Scope and contents

Letter from British Columbia, Canada.
 

Miller, Dayton C. 1937 October 26

 

Sandburg, Carl, 1930 June 23

 

Seeger, Charles, 1943-1944

 

Seton, Ernest Thompson, 1931 February 9

 

Seton, Grace Thompson, 1928 March 16

 

Shipstead, Henrik, 1946 January 18

 

Sigerist, H.E. 1946 October 17

 

Smith, Cecil, 1950 January 21

 

Smith, Maurice G. 1930 May 6

 

Sonneck, O.G. 1927 July 18

 

Spaeth, Sigmund, 1946 June 26

 

Speck, Frank G. 1942-1943

 

Spivacke, Harold, 1942 October 27

 

Stafford, Marie Peary, 1950 June 5

 

Starr, Helen K. 1949 June 2

 

Stirling, M. W. 1946 May 20

 

Tozzer, Alfred 1941 May 28

 

True, W.P. 1950 April 5

 

Turck, Charles J. 1950 Februrary 27

 

Van de Wall, Willem, 1926 March 5

 

Watson, Dudley Crafts, 1933 August 22

 

Circular letters 1944-1950

Scope and contents

These letters were not addressed directly to Densmore, but were written for mass distribution.
 

Cattell, Jaques, 1950 May 18

 

Krogman, W. M. 1944 April 10

 

Mead, Margaret, undated

 

Sinnott, Edmund R. undated

 

United Nations Fund of the American Association for the United Nations, Inc. 1950 November 21

Scope and contents

Letter signed by Eleanor Roosevelt and Ralph J. Bunch.
Box 1, Folder 11

Correspondence, 1910–1953

Arrangement

Alphabetically by last name.
 

Abbott, C.G. 1938

 

Alvarez, Walter C. 1951

 

Austin, Mary, 1934

 

Buck, Solon J. 1946

 

Burnett, E.K. 1946

 

Clapham, John, 1953

 

Cooke, James Francis, 1946, 1953

 

Hanson, Howard, 1946, 1951

 

Henderson, H.G. 1936, 1937

 

Herzog, George, 1946, 1952

 

Hodge, Frederick Webb, 1950-1952

Scope and contents

Eight letters.
 

Jenks, Albert Ernest, 1910, 1912

Scope and contents

No letters, only includes signatures.
 

Malagón, Javier, 1952

 

Menzies, T.P.O. 1946

 

Ortiz, Fernando, 1951

 

Seeger, Charles, 1946

 

Shapiro, Karl, 1951

 

Spaeth, Sigmund, 1951

 

Spier, Leslie, 1945-1946

 

Stevenson, E., 1953

 

Turck, Charles J. 1952

 

Voegelin, 1946

 

Walker, R. 1937

Scope and contents

Letter is from Japan.
 

Weed, Charles K. 1923

 

Unknown author, undated

Box 1, Folder 14

Correspondence with Frederick Webb Hodge, 1953

Scope and contents

Includes some biographical details about Densmore.
Box 1, Folder 17

Copy of letter of Dr. C. E. Seashore about Frances Densmore's hearing ability, undated

 

Lectures, Series 2:  1899-1954

Box 1, Folder 1

Lectures, 1909-1932

Language of Material: English

Scope and contents

Dates reflect when lecture was given. Some items are typed copies created after the lecture date.
 

Sioux and Chippewa music, 1932 February 1

 

Chippewa Chiefs interviews, 1932 March 2

Scope and contents

Materials include typed transcripts from two out of three talks Densmore conducted about the "Indians of Minnesota" for WCCO Radio Minneapolis in 1932. Typed transcripts created 1953 January.
 

"Music of the American Indians", 1899 February 21

Language of Material: English

Scope and contents

Lectured delivered at the Art Institute, Chicago, Illinois. Folder consists of two typed copies of lecture, typed in 1944 and 1953.
 

"Music of the American Indians", 1909 April 26

Scope and contents

Lecture delivered before the Anthropological Society of Washington. Typed 1952 December.
Box 1, Folder 12

Lecture notice containing biographical information, undated

Box 2, Folder 13

Announcements related to Densmore lectures, 1899-1954

Scope and contents

Lecture announcements pertain to recitals on American Indians, circa 1899; recitals announced in Indian School Journal, 1907; Music Library National Convention, 1954; and the Macalester College Conference on Human Development, 1948, where Frances Densmore was an honored guest.
Box 1, Folder 9

Programs and articles, 1946-1954

Scope and contents

Includes concert programs featuring Densmore or her music and articles about or by Densmore.
 

Minneapolis Symphony program, 1949 November 27

Scope and contents

Includes a piece on themes found by Densmore.
 

Music News issue, 1954 March 8

Scope and contents

Publication of University of Florida, Gainesville.
 

“Tribute to Miss Densmore”, circa 1946

Scope and contents

Published in Rio University’s Daily Eagle.
 

“Theme of Composition”, undated

Scope and contents

Small article from unknown press regarding “musicals incorporating Indian themes gathered by Miss Frances Densmore.”
 

Manuscripts and music analysis, Series 3:  1935-1938

Scope and contents

This series consists of manuscripts and correspondence between Frederick Webb Hodge and Densmore. Most of the materials in this series are related Densmore publications Cheyenne and Arapaho Music, Southwest Museum Papers, number 10 and Music of Santo Domingo Pueblo, New Mexico, Southwest Museum Papers, number 12.
Box 1, Folder 2

Melodic analysis of seventy-five Cheyenne and Arapaho Songs, circa 1936

Scope and contents

Includes form with note by Hodge, “specimen of blank used in interval analysis of Indian songs”.
Box 1, Folder 3

Correspondence with Frederick Webb Hodge, 1935

 

Letter from Hodge to Densmore 1935 November 16

Language of Material: English
 

Letter from Densmore to Hodge 1935 November 16

Language of Material: English

Scope and contents

Includes material noted by Densmore as “Cheyenne and Arapahoe songs recorded on a cylinder phonograph and copies on disks."
Box 1, Folder 4

Melodic analysis of 103 Santo Domingo Songs, circa 1938

Box 1, Folder 5

“Music of Santo Domingo Pueblo” original score, circa 1938

Box 1, Folder 6

“The Musical Instruments and dance songs of the Maidu Indians” partial manuscript, 1937 May 11

Box 1, Folder 7

Maidu Music manuscripts and galley proofs, circa 1937

Box 1, Folder 31

Reviews of “Cheyenne and Arapaho Music” and “Music of Santo Domingo Pueblo”, 1938

Box 1, Folder 15

Sioux Sun Dance drawing with note from Frances Densmore, 1946

Scope and contents

Original sketch by Eagle Shield. Upper part of drawing for Plate 17, Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 61, "Teton Sioux Music". Picture of Sioux Sun Dance.

Accession number

1062.G.2

Acquisition

Gift of Frances Densmore to the Southwest Museum, 1946.
Box 1, Folder 25

Tone photograph taken by Dr. Dayton C. Miller, undated

 

Publications about Densmore, Series 4: 1936-1957

Box 1, Folder 16

Honorable August H. Anderson speech on Frances Densmore research, 1952 April 25

Scope and contents

Speech presented in Minnesota for the House of Representatives.
Box 1, Folder 18

Newspaper clippings, 1936-1947

 

Minnesota Archeologist II, number 12. 1936 December

 

Time, 1938 November 7

 

Minneapolis Times Tribune, 1940 May 6

 

Minneapolis Tribune, 1947 May 18

 

St. Paul Pioneer Press, 1947 May 21

 

Oberlin Alumni magazine, 1947 August

Box 1, Folder 21

Newspaper clippings, 1939-1954

 

"Indian Songs Theme of Paper Prepared by Miss Densmore", Red Wing Daily Eagle, Red Wing, Minnesota. 1939 July 8

 

"Noted Music Consultant at [University of Florida] for 2 months", Gainsville Daily Sun Gainesville, Florida. 1954 March 24

 

"Navaho Songs Used at Art Exhibit", Daily Republican Eagle Red Wing, Minnesota. 1943 November 30

 

"Anthology of Indian Songs Praises Frances Densmore" Red Wing Daily Republican, undated

Box 1, Folder 19

Newspaper clippings, 1949-1956

 

Daily Republican Eagle, Red Wing, Minnesota. 1950-1956

Scope and contents

Includes articles from 1950 June 5; 1954 October 9; and 1956 March 5 issues.
 

Minneapolis Star, 1953-1954

Scope and contents

Includes articles from 1953 July 1 and 1954 October 12 issues.
 

Minneapolis Morning Tribune, 1950 June 6

Scope and contents

Issue includes program for Macalester College sixty-first commencement.
 

Minneapolis Tribune, 1949 October 23

 

St. Paul Dispatch, 1954 October 12

 

St. Paul Pioneer Press, 1950 May 26

Box 1, Folder 20

Obituary from New York Times , 1957 June 7

Box 1, Folder 30

The Minnesota Archaeologist, Spring 1957 issue, circa 1957

Scope and contents

This publication is dedicated to Densmore by the Minnesota Archeological Society. All of the articles in this issue relate to Densmore's career, accomplishments, and contributions to the field of archeology. Also included in the folder is a typed letter from Sidney A. Peterson, Research Assistant in Ethnology at the Science Museum of the Saint Paul Institute to Carl S. Dentzel, Director of the Southwest Museum. The letter is dated 1961 January 30.
 

Publications by Densmore, Series 5:  1907-1954

Box 1, Folder 8

Bibliography of Densmore writings in Journal of Musicology volume 4, numbers 2 and 3. circa 1942

Box 1, Folder 9

"Technique in the Music of the American Indian", 1953

Scope and contents

From Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology, Anthropological Paper, no. 36.
Box 1, Folder 27

"Indian Music" articles, 1921,1941

 

"Indian Music" El Palacio , volume 10, numbers 13 and 14. 1921 June 15

 

"The Study of Indian Music", Smithsonian Report, pages 527-550. 1941

 

"Music of the Indians in Our Western States" paper abstract, undated

Box 1, Folder 12

Articles by Densmore circa 1926-1936

Box 1, Folder 12

“The Songs of the Indians”, 1926 January

Scope and contents

Published in American Mercury, pages 65-68.
 

“Indian Music Form of Prayer, Woman Asserts", 1926, 1936

Scope and contents

Published in St. Paul Dispatch 1926 July 30 and Minnesota Archaeologist volume 2, issue 12, December 1936.
Box 1, Folder 28

Music of specific tribes, 1932, 1939

 

"Musical Instruments of the Maidu Indians", American Anthropologist , volume 41, number 1. 1939 January - March

 

"A Resemblance Between Yuman and Pueblo Songs", American Anthropologist , volume 34, number 4. 1932 October-December

Box 1, Folder 26

"Music of the American Indian" articles, 1907-1954

 

"Music of the American Indians", Overland Monthly undated

 

"Songs of the Brown Children", The Indian School Journal, volume 8, number 1. 1907 November

 

"The Music of the American Indian", 1954 March 31

Scope and contents

Printed from address to Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Florida
 

"The Music of the American Indian", The Washington Post 1939 March 20

Box 1, Folder 24

Articles about Indian music and treatment of sick, 1952-1954

 

"The Use of Music in the Treatment of the Sick by American Indians", Smithsonian Report , pages 439-454. 1952

 

"Importance of Rhythm in Songs for the Treatment of the Sick by American Indians", Scientific Monthly , volume 79, number 2. 1954 August 7

Box 1, Folder 29

Indian music articles, 1943, 1953

 

"The Use of meaningless Syllables in Indian Songs" American Anthropologist, volume 45. 1943

 

"The Belief of the Indian in a Connection Between Song and the Supernatural", Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 15, pages 217-223. 1953

Box 1, Folder 22

Indian Action Songs booklet, undated

Scope and contents

Booklet designed for school children and includes songs and instructions for pantomime.
Box 1, Folder 23

"The Use of the Term 'Tetrachord' in Musicology", Journal of Musicology , volume 1, number 4, pages 16-21. 1940 March

Scope and contents

Two copies.