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First Comprehensive Census of American Indians

$1,150

First Comprehensive Survey of Native Americans in the U.S. Monumental Report Copiously Illustrated with Plates, Photographs & Maps - Prior to 1900, few Indians were included in the decennial federal census. Indians were not identified in the 1790-1840 censuses. In 1860, Indians living in the general population were identified for the first time. Beginning with the 1900 census, Indians were enumerated on reservations as well as in the general population. Unfortunately, nearly all of the 1890 census schedules were destroyed as a result of the fire at the Department of Commerce in 1921.

This extremely rare 1890 Census Report The Report onIndians Taxed and Indians Not Taxed in the United States (Except Alaska) at the Eleventh Census, 1890 (1894)consists of statistical summaries followed by descriptions of each tribe. These descriptions are arranged by state and usually include the number of people on the reservation, the location of the reservation as well as a description of the schools, sources of income, health problems, and religion. Photographs of buildings and people are interspersed throughout. Information on individuals is very rare. This 1890 census is the first to include the enumeration of all Indians. The 1890 Census Act stated:

“The Superintendent of [the] Census may employ special agents or other means to make an enumeration of all Indians living within the jurisdiction of the United States, with such information as to their condition as may be obtainable, classifying them as to Indians taxed, and Indians not taxed.”

With the 1921 fire in the Department of Commerce building resulted in the destruction of all but a few fragments of the 1890 census returns. This rare 683-page Bureau of the Census report contains detailed descriptions of Indian tribes on reservations, arranged by state. Occasionally, there are specific references to individual Indians. Among the nearly 200 illustrations are portraits of Indians and an occasional map of a reservation that includes the names of the individuals living there. In the New York chapter, for example, there is a portrait of Governor Blacksnake along with information that he died at Cold Spring in South Valley, Allegany Reservation, on December 26, 1859. A half-dozen maps of Indian reservations in New York include the names of individuals. The destruction of the 1890 census is a double blow for those interested in Native American genealogy or history because that census was the first to enumerate all classes of Indians. However, genealogists pursuing Native American ancestry will find the 1860–1880 censuses of some value.

This edition of the 1890 Indian Census, printed by the Government Printing Office in Washington, DC is a first edition. It contains all 683 original pages, with 205 plates: 21 chromolithographs by Julian Scott, William Gilbert Gaul, Peter Moran, Henry Rankin Poore, and Walter Shirlaw, some with gesso highlights, 2 of which are folded (“The Race” and “Omaha Dance”); 2 lithographs on tinted grounds; 182 leaves of black and white photographic plates (including work by Muybridge, Cantwell, and W.H. Jackson); plus 25 lithograph maps (some colored, 13 folded).    

This massive state-by-state survey includes detailed information and statistics on stock raising among Native American tribes. One of Julian Scott’s chromolithographs entitled “Issue Day” is a lively rendition of Native Americans chasing cattle. Some of the photographs document Native American stock raising, such as W.R. Cross’ “South Dakota. Issuing Beef Cattle to the Sioux at Rosebud Agency.”

This work is essential for Native American studies and genealogy due to a fact noted by the Library of Congress: “Unfortunately, a 1921 fire in the Department of Commerce building resulted in the destruction of all but a few fragments of the 1890 census returns. A 683-page Bureau of the Census report, however, contains detailed descriptions of Indian tribes on reservations, arranged by state. Occasionally, there are specific references to individual Indians…. The destruction of the 1890 census is a double blow for those interested in Native American genealogy or history because that census was the first to enumerate all classes of Indians.”

The work is accompanied by copious iconography, including chromolithographs by Julian Scott (1846-1901), a military and portrait painter best known for his plates in this volume and first recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor for battlefield bravery (Scott also wrote the text on the Moqui in this volume). Among Scott’s portraits of Native Americans is noted Comanche leader Quanah Parker (this print is listed in Ron Tyler’s unpublished work on Texas lithographs). “Economically, Parker promoted the creation of a ranching industry and led the way by becoming a successful and quite wealthy stock raiser himself. He also supported agreements with white ranchers allowing them to lease grazing lands within the Comanche reservation” (Handbook of Texas Online: Quanah Parker; also see Items 165 & 468 herein). Scott also contributed the portrait of noble Shoshone chief Washakie in full regalia at Fort Washakie, Wyoming, in 1891. The sharply chiseled portrait of Sioux Sitting Bull in South Dakota in 1890 was made by William Gilbert Gaul (1855-1919), an important recorder of military and Western life. The photographic illustrations document Native Americans as nothing else can, with portraits, abodes, social history, artifacts, architecture, and a way of life that was disappearing rapidly.

The maps are valuable cartographic and ethnic documentation, especially master lithographer Julius Bien’s Map of Indian Territory and Oklahoma 1890. This outstanding map shows the Territory at a pivotal moment of transition. On April 22, 1889, President Benjamin Harrison formally opened the central tract, known as the “Oklahoma Country,” to settlement by non-Native Americans. The entire western portion of Indian Territory was organized as the Oklahoma Territory in 1890, and additional Native lands were opened to settlers over the course of the 1890s. The two territories were merged in 1907 to form the state of Oklahoma.

This extremely rare book is in overall good condition; both dark blue boards are intact, but exhibit some minor fraying and scuffing. There is an early water stain on the front board that is evident on the spine. There is a repaired tear in the spine, and some of the blank, pre-title pages are a bit tattered. The interior of the book is in strong condition, retaining all original plates, photographs, chromolithographs and maps. This is a very rare and highly significant book.

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