Finding Aid to the Powell and Sparkman Family Papers MS.218

Finding aid prepared by Holly Rose Larson
Autry National Center, Braun Research Library
234 Museum Drive
Los Angeles, CA, 90065-5030
2012 August 30

Title: Powell and Sparkman Family Papers
Identifier/Call Number: MS.218
Contributing Institution: Autry National Center, Braun Research Library
Language of Material: English
Physical Description: 1.3 Linear feet (2 boxes)
Date (bulk): Bulk, 1808-1919
Date (inclusive): 1808-1962
Abstract: Philip Stedman Sparkman studied and wrote out the vocabulary of the Luiseño people of Southern California, and he corresponded with Charles F. Lummis and Frederick Webb Hodge. This collection includes family, financial, and legal papers of John Sparkman, Philip Stedman, Philip Stedman Sparkman, John Stedman Sparkman, Alice Ann Sparkman Powell, and Rodney W. Powell, spanning mostly from 1808-1919. Photographs in this collection range from 1872-1962.
creator: Powell, Alice Ann Sparkman
creator: Powell, Rodney W.
creator: Sparkman Family
creator: Sparkman, John Stedman
creator: Sparkman, John
creator: Sparkman, Philip Stedman, 1865-1907
creator: Stedman, Philip

Scope and contents

This collection includes family, financial, and legal papers of John Sparkman, Philip Stedman, Philip Stedman Sparkman, John Stedman Sparkman, Alice Ann Sparkman Powell, and Rodney W. Powell, spanning mostly from 1808-1919. Papers include correspondence, family papers, financial records, a ledger, and photographs. Loose photographs and a photo album include photos from 1872-1962. The photo album features mostly Powell family members, with some of Alice Sparkman Powell’s family photos as well. The photo album also includes photographs from R. W. Powell’s military service in Cairo, featuring encampments, landscapes, and Bedouins. The ledger is mostly filled with journal entries from 1880-1901 written by Philip Stedman Sparkman.

Preferred citation

Powell and Sparkman Family Papers, 1808-1962, Braun Research Library Collection, Autry National Center, Los Angeles; MS.218; [folder number] [folder title][date].


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Biographical note

Philip Steadman Sparkman, 1865-1907
Sparkman was the seventh child in a farming family, born in Herefordshire, England in 1865. He sailed to the United States in 1875 on the immigrant ship SS Idaho. He slowly made his way west, working odd jobs, and opening a series of short-lived stores starting in 1880 in Albuquerque, New Mexico and then in towns along the Santa Fe Trail. He eventually settled in the small town of Rincon, near Valley Center in San Diego County, California where he ran a successful store and prospered as a local businessman. Sparkman had taught himself Spanish while in New Mexico, and upon settling in Rincon, became interested in the local Luiseño Indian culture and language. Sparkman spent years recording all aspects of Luiseño culture, including folklore, religion, and material culture, but his focus was on their language. He published a preliminary sketch of his study of the language in American Anthropologist in 1905. Sparkman was killed at his home on 1907 May 19 at the age of 51. The man suspected of his murder, Francisco Calac, was declared unfit for trial, and spent the next 20 years at the state asylum in San Bernardino, California. Discovered among his papers after his death were a completed, bound and typed manuscript grammar and dictionary of the Luiseño language and a written account of Luiseño culture. Both works were acquired, along with other Sparkman papers, by the University of California and published post-mortem. Sparkman left no heir behind, so his effects were left to his sister Alice Ann Sparkman Powell, wife of Rodney W. Powell, who served in the British army in Cairo during World War I.
References Crawford, Richard. “Rincon slaying claimed life of respected businessman.” San Diego Union-Tribune, Dec. 16, 2010, p.CZ.2.

Related Archival Materials

Charles Fletcher Lummis Manuscript Collection, 1879-1928, Braun Research Library Collection, Autry National Center, Los Angeles, MS.1
Frederick Webb Hodge Manuscript Collection, 1884-1956, Braun Research Library Collection, Autry National Center, Los Angeles, MS.7
Philip Stedman Sparkman papers, 1896-1907, Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkley, BANC MSS C-B 1068.

Processing history

Biographical note prepared by Eloise Nelson, Braun Research Library intern, 2011 June 20. Initial processing completed by Braun Research Library staff. Processing and finding aid completed by Holly Rose Larson, NHPRC Processing Archivist, 2012 August 30, made possible through grant funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commissions (NHPRC).

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Powell, Alice Ann Sparkman
Powell, Rodney W.
Sparkman Family
Sparkman, John Stedman
Sparkman, John
Sparkman, Philip Stedman, 1865-1907
Stedman, Philip
Cairo (Egypt)
Financial records
Indian baskets
Luiseño Indians
Luiseño language
Photograph albums

Box 2, Folder 2

Philip Stedman Sparkman and J.J. Powel photos 1870-1917

Box 1, Folder 3

Stedman family genealogy

Box 1, Folder 4

Will and Estate of John Sparkman 1873

Box 1, Folder 5

Will of Philip Stedman 1819

Box 1, Folder 6

Document regarding an appointment in Herefordshire

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements note

Document is illegible.
Box 1, Folder 7

Bond for securing interest, from Edward Bruton to Henry Thurston 1857

Box 1, Folder 8

Powell family material 1807-1919

Box 1, Folder 9

Correspondence regarding Little Marcle Rectory 1866

Box 1, Folder 10

Letters from John Stedman Sparkman to James and Alice Powell

Biographical note

Alice Ann Sparkman Powell is the sister of Phillip Steadman Sparkman.

Scope and Contents note

Philip S. Sparkman is also a correspondent in this group of letters.
Box 1, Folder 11

Correspondence regarding death of Philip Stedman Sparkman

Box 1, Folder 12

Correspondence regarding estate of Philip Stedman Sparkman

Box 1, Folder 13

Philip Stedman Sparkman basket collection list 1908

Box 1, Folder 14

Philip Stedman Sparkman ledger journal

Physical Description: 120.0 pages
Box 1, Folder 15

Philip Stedman Sparkman journal

Box 1, Folder 16

Firs Farm journals 1905-1910

Scope and contents

Published in Gisborne, New Zealand by R.W. Powell.
Box 1, Folder 16

Letter from Rodney W. Powell to his wife Alice 1918

Scope and contents

Letter was sent from Cairo, Egypt.