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Bushnell, David Ives, Jr. (1875-1941) Collection Records, 1845-1942: A Finding Aid

Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology Archives, Harvard University


Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: Archives
Call No.: 41-72
Repository: Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology Archives, Harvard University
Creator: Bushnell, David I. (David Ives)
Title: Bushnell, David Ives, Jr. (1875 - 1941) Collection Records,
Date(s): 1845-1942
Quantity: 2.25 linear feet
Language of materials: English

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

David I. Bushnell bequeathed part of his ethnographic and archaeological collection to the Peabody Museum when he died in 1941. His mother, Mrs. Belle Johnston Bushnell, eventually donated his remaining collection to the Peabody Museum in 1946. The Bushnell Collection Records accompanied the large painting and artifact collection. A portion of the collection was catalogued at its accession date, and the collection was dispersed throughout the museum. In 1995 the remainder of the collection was catalogued, and photographs were transferred to Photo Archives. The records were transferred to the Archives in 1997.

Processing Information:

Processed by: Sarah R. Demb, April 1998
Until recently, the manuscript and photographic material were stored together and were largely uncatalogued and underutilized. The artifact material was inventoried by Collections Department Assistant Dr. Penny Drooker in 1995. In the fall of 1996, Ellie Swain, Research Assistant in the PM, began working on the Bushnell Collection under the guidance of Maranne McDade, Curatorial Associate in the Photographic Archives.
The project involved the separation of the photographic material from the manuscript material for cataloguing and preservation purposes. As the collection covered all aspects of Bushnell's professional and personal interests, extensive research of Bushnell's published material and archaeological field notes, as well as comprehensive review of the photographic holdings was required. In addition, careful attention was paid to maintaining the relationship between the photographs and the written material. Much of the manuscript material was described at the item level to enable curators to identify all the artifacts during cataloguing.
Once the photographic materials were catalogued, the manuscript and publication materials were transferred to the Archives.

Related Materials

Related Museum Collections: Bushnell Collection 41-72; Holmes Painting 979-37; Bushnell Photograph Collection 41-72. Please see Photographic Archives Bushnell finding aid for related photos.

Biographical Sketch

Born in 1875 in St. Louis, Missouri, David Ives Bushnell, Jr. was introduced to archaeological and ethnographic material at an early age. His father, David Bushnell, Sr., served on the Advisory Committee at the Missouri Historical Society for many years, was appointed the vice-president at one time, and was a trustee from 1898-1913. Never formally trained as an anthropologist, David I. Bushnell Jr. enjoyed a wide range of interests in the field of anthropology, archaeology and ethnography. Bushnell extensively photographed his numerous expeditions, many of which resulted in the publications he produced throughout his life. Schooled in St. Louis and later in Europe, Bushnell was never a student at Harvard University, but was associated with the University from 1901-1904 as an archaeological assistant at the Peabody Museum. He was later appointed as an editor at the Smithsonian Institution's Bureau of American Ethnology (BAE) where he remained from 1912-1921. His widespread interests and his reputation as a scholar and collector began in 1899 when Bushnell embarked on his first anthropological expedition to Northern Minnesota where he observed and recorded life among the Chippewa and Ojibwa as well as participated in an archaeological excavation at Mille Lac. In 1902, he studied saltmaking at Kimmswick in southern Missouri. In 1904, Bushnell excavated at the Cahokia Mounds. That same year, he also took a trip with his mother to Europe and documented North American ethnographic material housed in European collections and museums. While in Switzerland, he excavated and collected specimens from peat bogs. He returned to Charlottesville, Virginia in 1907 and was hired as a contributor to the Handbook of American Indians. He continued his anthropological investigations in 1908-1909 to study the Choctaw in Louisiana, and later returned to the area in 1917-1918. In the decades to follow, Bushnell devoted much of his time to excavations in Virginia, specifically in the James and Rappahannock Valleys, as well as to documenting soapstone quarries in the region.

Source: PM Photographic Archives Bushnell Collection Finding Aid


The papers are arranged in the following series, according to the Bushnell's organization and subsequent research needs: I. Correspondence - Artist Related 1917 - 1939, II. Correspondence / Multiple Artist Related 1926 - 1942, III.Correspondence/ Dealers 1922 - 1937, IV. Correspondence/ General 1918 - 1938, n.d., V. Field Notes 1899 - 1910, VI. Manuscripts and Notes 1926 - 1939, n.d., VII. Ephemera 1915 - 1951, VIII. Catalogues.

Scope and Contents

The papers primarily consist of Bushnell and the Bushnell estate's correspondence with dealers, artists, museum professionals and other collectors; Bushnell's fieldnotes from his work with the Choctaw and archaeological expeditions; and, manuscript drafts and notes for his many publications.

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