Sigurd Russell Photograph Collection of Southwest Indians and Schools: Finding Aid

Finding aid prepared by Michelle Sanchez.
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
Photo Archives
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2191
© 2014
The Huntington Library. All rights reserved.

Overview of the Collection

Title: Sigurd Russell Photograph Collection of Southwest Indians and Schools
Dates (inclusive): 1890s-1927
Bulk dates: 1920s
Collection Number: photCL 399
Creator: Russell, Sigurd, 1885-1946
Extent: 144 photographs and 22 postcards in 1 box; prints and postcards 12 x 16.5 cm. (4.75 x 6.5 in.) and smaller.
Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Photo Archives
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2191
Abstract: A collection of photographs and postcards focusing on Navajo and Hopi Indians and various Indian schools and schoolchildren throughout Arizona, mostly dating from the 1920s, and compiled by Los Angeles teacher and journalist Sigurd Russell (1885-1946).
Language: English.
Finding aid last updated on October 21, 2014.


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Administrative Information

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Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Sigurd Russell Photograph Collection of Southwest Indians and Schools, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


Gift of Beatrice Russell Beck, October 1996.

Biographical Note

Teacher and journalist Sigurd Russell (1885-1946) became a well-seasoned traveler in his formative years after being moved around Europe for his education. In order to support himself as an adult, he became a journalist, and founded the Lamanda Park Herald (later the East Pasadena Herald) in 1915. Russell later became a teacher at Los Angeles High School, and used school vacations to travel to the Southwest. During these trips, he may have written about the Indians who lived there for the Southwest Museum, as Charles F. Lummis frequently attended parties at the Russell house. In his later years, Russell’s health grew worse and he died due to heart complications in 1946. [For additional information, see the transcript of oral interview with Beatrice Russell Beck in Huntington library files.]

Scope and Content

A collection of photographs and postcards focusing on Navajo and Hopi Indians and various Indian schools and schoolchildren throughout Arizona, mostly dating from the 1920s, and compiled by Los Angeles teacher and journalist Sigurd Russell. There are views of Peach Springs Trading Post, the Cameron Suspension Bridge trading post, missions at Chinle and Lukachukai (Arizona), Navajo family groups, Navajo schools at Tuba City and Oraibi (Arizona), and Navajo school crafts fairs and exhibits. Acoma, Apache, Tohono O'odham (Papago), and Hualapai Indians are also represented.
The photographs were taken from 1890 to 1927, but the bulk of the collection was created during the 1920s. Includes some photographs by George Wharton James, E.E. Hall, and Burton Frasher (Frasher Fotos) . These images of Indians were taken as both posed and candid field photographs, in particular of young Navajo schoolchildren during class time and outside of school. Other subjects pictured are L.H. McSparron, owner of Thunderbird Ranch and acting custodian of Canyon de Chelly; Father Leopold Ostermann, the founder of the mission at Chinle; possibly John Lorenzo Hubbell Jr., of the Hubbell trading family; an Indian all-boys track-and-field team at an unidentified school; Indian schoolchildren; and nature views throughout Arizona.
Russell also collected postcards with images of Southwest Indians, with some cards having correspondence from Russell, addressed to Beatrice Madelleine, Mrs. George R. Simmons, and Madeleine Touchaux (Russell’s wife), describing how travel conditions were as well as opinions on the Indians that were encountered.


The photographs have been arranged by Indian tribe, starting with the tribe with the most photographs and/or postcards. Navajo Indians appear first in the arrangement, followed by Hopi, Apache, and other Southwestern tribes with fewer photographs. Within each tribe, photographs and postcards have been further organized by individual tribe members, activities, crafts, associated communities, and schools. Images of Caucasian people involved in Indian trade, trading posts, and unidentified Indian schools and students are placed at the end of this collection.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  


Ostermann, Leopold -- Photographs.
Acoma Indians -- Photographs.
Apache Indians -- Photographs.
Basket making—Arizona -- Photographs.
Dakota Indians -- Photographs.
First communion -- Photographs.
Havasupai Indians -- Photographs.
Hogans -- Photographs.
Hopi Indians -- Photographs.
Hualapai Indians -- Photographs.
Hubbell family -- Photographs.
Indians of North America—Education -- Photographs.
Indians of North America—Missions -- Photographs.
Indians of North America—Southwest, New -- Photographs.
Indian school children -- Photographs.
Indian traders -- Photographs.
Navajo blankets -- Photographs.
Navajo Indians -- Photographs.
Navajo shepherds -- Photographs.
Priests -- Photographs.
Tohono O’odham Indians -- Photographs.
Trading posts—Arizona -- Photographs.
Yuma Indians -- Photographs.
Albuquerque (N.M.) -- Photographs.
Chelly, Canyon de (Ariz.) -- Photographs.
Chinle (Ariz.) -- Photographs.
Fort Mojave (Ariz.) -- Photographs.
Oraibi (Ariz.) -- Photographs.
Peach Springs (Ariz.) -- Photographs.
Tuba City (Ariz.) -- Photographs.



Additional Creators

James, G. Wharton (George Wharton), 1858-1923, photographer.
Detroit Publishing Co.
Frashers Inc., photographer.
Fred Harvey (Firm)
Lollesgard Specialty Company
Southwest Arts & Crafts (Santa Fe, N.M.)

Box 1


Folder 1, Items 1-21

Navajo Indians, including: blanket weavers; multi-generational families; individual male tribe members; men at a sweathouse.

Folder 2, Items 22-32

Navajo Indians, including: the wedding party of a Navajo couple; young boys and girls; mothers and their children.

Folder 3, Items 33-38

Navajo Indians, including: an unidentified young married couple; individual female tribe members (some making bread, others wearing Navajo jewelry)

Folder 4, Items 39-43

Navajo Indians, including: individual female tribe members (many wearing Navajo jewelry and are with other female tribe members); tribe members gathering together at a meeting place; “Squaw Dance.”

Folder 5, Items 44-60

Tuba City (AZ): Navajo children in everyday clothing before school enrollment and in school uniform after enrollment; school buildings, including hospital.

Folder 6, Items 61-69

Tuba City and Oraibi (AZ): Navajo Indian school exhibits; agricultural fairs; arts and crafts fairs.

Folder 7, Items 70-77

Navajo sheep herding and dipping; hogan exteriors.

Folder 8, Items 78-92

Chinle (AZ): mission building; Navajo Indian adults and schoolchildren; homes and hospital; Father Leopold Osterman (founder of Chinle mission); First Communion and Baptism classes. Lukachukai (AZ): St. Isabel Church; Indian interpreter’s residence.

Folder 9, Items 93-100

Hopi Indians, including: young women of marriageable age; basket-weaver; Snake Dance; blanket-weaving; man in Western clothing.

Folder 10, Items 101-111

Hopi Indians: schoolgirls Acoma Indians: blanket-weaver at loom; Acoma Pueblo.

Folder 11, Items 112-124

Apache Indians and baskets; Tohono O’Odham (Papago) school girls; Hualapai (Walapai) Indians; basket-weavers .

Folder 12, Items 125-127

North Dakota Indian; Yuma Indian; Havasupai basket-weaver.

Folder 13, Items 128-136

Caucasian traders: L.H. Sparron; possibly John Lorenzo Hubbell Jr. from the Hubbell family with an unidentified man and unidentified woman; Peach Springs Trading Post (AZ); Trading post by Cameron Suspension Bridge (AZ).

Folder 14, Items 137-157

Unidentified Indian schoolchildren at unidentified schools, including: Goat Club for Boys; boys’ class at Fort Mojave; young men’s track team.

Folder 15, Items  158-166

Southwest views of nature and buildings, including the Elephant’s Feet (rock spires). Miscellaneous images: Pueblo Indian dancers; Mission Indian basket maker at Soboba, Cal.