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Native American Indian and Alaska Native E-Resource Guide: Historical Research

Created in honor of Native American Indian & Alaska Native Heritage Month, this guide is a compilation of online resources provided by the New York Public Library to help you research all aspects of this topic. Guide by Rhonda Evans.

Historical Research

The Indigenous Peoples: North America database contains over 50 archival collections documenting the Native American experience from institutions such as the Library of Congress, the Association on American Indian Archives, and the U.S. National Archives. These digitized sources include manuscripts, monographs, newspapers, and photographs.

The Evans Early American Imprints database, "[c]ontains virtually every book, pamphlet and broadside published in America during the 17th and 18th centuries.” This includes a strong collection of documents written during the colonization of America and colonial / Native American interaction. One genre category that is relevant to this area of studies is the "Captivity Narratives", which includes titles such as A narrative of the captivity of Nehemiah How, who was taken by the Indians at the Great Meadow-Fort above Fort-Dummer, where he was an inhabitant, October 11th 1745. Giving an account of what he met with in his travelling to Canada, and while he was in prison there. Together with an account of Mr. How's death at Canada. [Seven lines from Psalms] from 1748.

The Sabin Americana database covers the years 1500-1926, with a strong emphasis on the colonization of both America and Europe, including views and firsthand accounts of colonial life. In this resource researchers can find materials related to Native Americans in the forms of essays, booklets, treaties, land tracts, congressional speeches, journals, and letters that document social attitudes and personal experiences. An example of a title is, A collection of Chippeway and English hymns, for the use of the native Indians by Peter Jones from 1847.



Kiowa Husband and Wife in Full Dress from the Annette Ross Hume Photograph Collection

Collection Highlight: FBI File on Osage Indian Murders

"The FBI's Osage Indian Murders files contain stores of data about life and attitudes of Osage Indians and their neighbors during the 1920s. The impact of oil wealth on northeastern Oklahoma is clearly documented. Of equal interest is the operation of state and federal law enforcement agencies in an era when, many assume, gangsters and bootleggers in major cities were society's sole villians. It is also evident from Osage Indian Murders files that the FBI at levels - especially including the young director, J. Edgar Hoover - actuely sensed heinous injustice and were determined to persevere in what became a most difficult task of investigation and prosecution. Sandbagged in a host of brazen but ingenious ways, the FBI nonetheless persisted, fought, and defeated charges of improper procedure and broke the congenial bonds of frontier silence to win convictions." - From the Indigenous Peoples: North America database.

National Book Award finalist, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, was researched partly using the New York Public Library Research collections. Author David Grann was a David S. Ferriero Fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Libraries. 

Image result for Look Inside | Reading Guide Killers of the Flower Moon THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Collections Available in Indigenous Peoples: North America

  • Annette Ross Hume Photograph Collection
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs Records Created by the Santa Fe Indian School, 1890-1918
  • Census Roll of the Cherokee Indians East of the Mississippi and Index to the Roll, 1835
  • Census of Creek Indians Taken by Parsons and Abbott in 1832
  • Charles "Steve" William Merton Hart Papers
  • Chemawa Indian School: Register of Students Admitted, 1880-1928; Descriptive Statements of Students, 1890-1914; and Graduating Class Rolls, 1885-1921
  • Citizenship Case Files of the U.S. Court in Indian Territory, 1896-1897
  • Correspondence of the Eastern Division Pertaining to Cherokee Removal, April-December 1838
  • Correspondence of the Secretary of the Treasury Relating to the Administration of Trust Funds for the Chickasaw and Other Indian Tribes ("S" Series), 1834-1872
  • Documents Relating to the Negotiation of Ratified and Unratified Treaties With Various Indian Tribes, 1801-1869
  • FBI File on Osage Indian Murders
  • Great Nemaha Agency Collection, 1866-1873
  • Indian Rights Association
  • Indigenous Peoples Newspapers
  • Iroquois Indians: A Documentary History
  • Janet Owen Laws Collection
  • Lake Mohonk Conference on the Indians Reports
  • Letter Book of the Creek Trading House, 1795-1816
  • Letters Received by the Office of Education, Alaska Division, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1878-1916
  • Letters Sent by the Indian Division of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior, 1849-1903
  • Letters Sent by the Office of Education, Alaska Division, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1877-1908
  • Letters Sent by the Superintendent of Indian Trade, 1807-1823
  • Miscellaneous Indian Removal Muster Rolls, 1832-1846
  • Moravian Mission Among the Indians of North America
  • Papers of Henry Rowe Schoolcraft
  • Ratified Indian Treaties, 1722-1869
  • Records of the Alaska Division of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Concerning Metlakatla, 1887-1933
  • Records of the Choctaw Trading House, 1803-1824
  • Records of the Creek Factory of the Office of Indian Trade of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1795-1821
  • Schedules of a Special Census of Indians, 1880
  • Selections from Arctic Collection
  • Selections from First Three Centuries of Appalachian Travel, 1540-1820
  • Selections from Javitch Collection
  • Selections from Plains and the Rockies, 1800-1865
  • Selections from Trans-Mississippi West
  • Selections from Travels in the Old South
  • Selections from Travels in the West and Southwest
  • Selections from Western Americana
  • Statistical Records and Reports of the Alaska Division of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1912-1941
  • The Alaska Indian Language Collection of the Oregon Province Archives of the Society of Jesus
  • The Alaskan Mission Collection of the Oregon Province Archives of the Society of Jesus
  • The Association of American Indian Affairs Archives, General and Tribal Files, 1851 - 1983
  • The Association on American Indian Archives: Publications, Programs, and Legal and Organizational Files, 1851-1983
  • The Indian School Journal (Chilocco Indian School)
  • The Native American: Devoted to Indian Education
  • The Pacific Northwest Tribes Indian Language Collection of the Oregon Province Archives of the Society of Jesus
  • The Pacific Northwest Tribes Missions Collection of the Oregon Province Archives of the Society of Jesus, 1853–1960
  • The Papers of the Society of American Indians, 1906–1946
  • W. S. Prettyman Photograph Collection