From the 1920s through the 1940s, the University of Pennsylvania anthropologist Frank Gouldsmith Speck worked on Cherokee language and culture with his primary consultant, Will West Long. Raised in Big Cove, North Carolina, Long was a respected elder and spent much of his adult life attempting to record and preserve traditional Cherokee culture.
The Speck Cherokee Collection consists of diaries, accounts, and medicinal texts in Cherokee collected by Will West Long and Morgan Calhoun, accompanied by notes by Speck and John Witthoft. Among these are several diaries kept by Long (mostly 1904-1917), records of the Gadugi (a Cherokee mutual aid group), accounts, records of births and deaths at Big Cove, Cherokee-English vocabularies, and material collected on Cherokee botany collected by James Mooney in 1887. Several of the items contain information on Cherokee medicine, including formulae and curing charms.