Frans M. Olbrechts papers

Mss.497.3.OL2

Date: Circa 1910-1930 | Size: 4.5 Linear feet, 46 folders and volumes

Abstract

These papers include materials on the Onondaga, Tuscarora, Seneca, Cayuga, and Oneida Indians, collected during the years 1928-1930 under the auspices of the American Council of Learned Societies' Committee on Native American Languages. Included are field notes, grammars, dictionaries, studies of Handsome Lake religion, medical prescriptions, comparative linguistics, and correspondence with Franz Boas. Contains data on consultants, texts, translations, paradigms, grammatical studies, and lexical files.

Background note

Frans Maria S. Olbrechts was born in Malines, Belgium on February 16, 1899. He studied Germanic philology at the University of Louvain and subsequently moved to New York in 1925 to study linguistics and folklore under Franz Boas at Columbia University. Under the direction of Boas, Olbrechts was introduced to the staff of the Bureau of American Ethnology and began field work among the Cherokee in North Carolina in 1926, focusing in part on the Swimmer manuscript of Cherokee formulas collected earlier by James Mooney. (Olbrechts' Cherokee papers can now be found at the National Anthropological Archives.)

From 1928-1929, again under Boas's direction, Olbrechts undertook fieldwork to study the relationships among Iroquoian languages, drawing in part upon his prior work on Cherokee linguistics. He worked on the Tuscarora Reservation (mainly in 1928), the Onondaga Reservation (mainly in 1929), and the Grand River territory in Ontario. During these visits he also recorded linguistic material from Cayuga, Seneca, Oneida, and Mohawk speakers where the opportunity arose.

He returned to Belgium in 1929 to organize the Department of Ethnology at the Musées Royaux d'Art et Histoire in Brussels. His interest shifted to a focus on African art and ethnography, which he taught as a professor at the University of Ghent beginning in 1932. In 1947 he become the Director of the Musée du Congo Belgé at Tervuren, where he worked until his death in 1958.

Scope and content

Native American Images Note: 11 images, primarily of Onondaga individuals as relates to Olbrechts' linguistic work. Other images include: a 1934 news clipping of Tuscarora natives visiting the White House and a silver gelatin print of the Seneca prophet Handsome Lake's gravesite.

Digital objects note

This collection contains digital materials that are available in the APS Digital Library. Links to these materials are provided with context in the inventory of this finding aid. A general listing of digital objects may also be found here.

Collection Information

Provenance

Presented by Mme Olbrechts through Dr. A.E. Meeussen, 1959; accessioned, 1960.

Processing information

First finding aid prepared by Anne Harney in 2008. Collection arranged and finding aid completed by Brian Carpenter in December 2015.

Related material

Olbrechts' correspondence with Franz Boas can be found in theFranz Boas Papers.

Olbrechts' field work among the Cherokee in North Carolina can be found at the National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution.

Indexing Terms


Corporate Name(s)

  • American Council of Learned Societies. Committee on Native American Languages

Genre(s)

  • Correspondence.
  • Newspaper clippings
  • Nitrate negatives
  • Notes.

Personal Name(s)

  • Boas, Franz, 1858-1942
  • Handsome Lake, 1735-1815
  • Olbrechts, Frans M., 1899-1958

Subject(s)

  • Cayuga Indians
  • Cherokee language
  • Indians of North America -- Languages
  • Indians of North America -- Medicine
  • Indians of North America -- New York (State)
  • Indians of North America -- Religion
  • Iroquois Indians
  • Names, Iroquois
  • Oneida Indians
  • Oneida language
  • Onondaga Indians
  • Onondaga language
  • Seneca Indians
  • Seneca language
  • Tuscarora Indians
  • Tuscarora language


Detailed Inventory

Series I: General Haudenosaunee
  
1-A: Cayuga paradigms and text
1929-193046 pagesbox 1

Cayuga paradigms (20 p.); Cayuga text about Red Jacket, given by Ezekiel Hill, March 5, 1930 (2 p.); Cayuga text (with French translation) taken down by Prof. Louis Allen, translation of the Mohawk version of "The Prodigal Son" into Cayuga (8 p.)

General physical description: 46 pages

Henry, Job.
1-B: Notes on Cayuga
August 1, 192818 pagesbox 1

Cayuga word lists, grammar, paradigms, and brief text on curing. Recorded with consultant Job Henry, "medicine man, Tuscarora Reservation."

Restrictions on Access: This item has been identified as potentially culturally sensitive. Reproduction, including Reading Room photography, is restricted. Please consult the Curator of Native American Materials for more information.

General physical description: 18 pages

2-A: Cherokee-Iroquois notes (fragile originals)
 2 folders; 76 pagesbox 1
2-B: Notes on the Iroquois Connection of Cherokee
 101 pages, 30 card slipsbox 1

Draft essay on linguistic comparisons between Cherokee and "Iroquois" (specific Iroquoian language unclear.) Includes card slips with paradigms and other notes on Cherokee-Iroquois comparisons. One slip includes a brief note on Caddoan.

General physical description: 101 pages, 30 card slips

3: Comparison of Iroquois languages
 2 folders; 100 card slipsbox 1
4: Handsome Lake materials
 6 foldersbox 1
4-A: Handsome Lake and the modern Iroquois Religion
 35 pagesbox 1

Draft essay in English and Ducth (or Flemish). Includes 1 photo of Handsome Lake memorial, Onondaga Reservation, 1929. Also includes 1-page newspaper clipping in Flemish (or Dutch?) on "South Netherlands Society for Language, Literature, and History", Oct. 9, 1931

General physical description: 35 pages

4-B: Missie ("Mission")
 13 pagesbox 1

Notes in Dutch (or Flemish), French, English.

General physical description: 13 pages

4-C: Inhand Code
 44 pagesbox 1

Notes in English and Dutch (or Flemish).

General physical description: 44 pages

4-D: "Converg"
 18 pagesbox 1

Typed excerpts of articles on Haudenosaunee religion. Newspaper clippings in English on Chinese purgatory, and in Dutch on Chinese art. Other notes in Dutch and French.

General physical description: 18 pages

4-E: Handsome Lake notes
 12 pagesbox 1

1-page letter by Louis Allen to Olbrechts, Sept. 10, 1930, on "Indian Apocalypse," Handsome Lake. Other notes in French by Olbrechts on Handsome Lake doctrine, work among Onondaga, and other topics.

General physical description: 12 pages

4-F: Dante notes
 34 pagesbox 1

Notes on Dante, primarily in Dutch (or Flemish?), and newspaper clippings on Dante in English.

General physical description: 34 pages

4-G: Photo negatives
 11 photo negativesbox 1

Restrictions on Access: Some of the images in this folder are restricted due to their cultural sensitivity. All non-sensitive images have been digitized.

General physical description: 11 photo negatives

Medicine maker, Chief Albert Schanandoh
1929 
Onondaga family
  
Onondaga longhouse
  
Onondaga man, seated
  
Onondaga man, seated outside
  
Onondaga man, seated, hands crossed
  
Onondaga woman, seated
  
Onondaga woman, seated, looking down
  
Williams, Ike V..
5: Schoon Meer
December 2, 19291 notebook (12 p.); 1 newspaper clippingbox 1

1 notebook, title "Schoon Meer", containing a text in English relating to Handsome Lake, given by Ike V. Williams, December 2, 1929. Also includes one newspaper clipping on Chief Albert Schanandoah of the Onondaga, dated December 8, 1929.

General physical description: 1 notebook (12 p.); 1 newspaper clipping

Medicine maker, Chief Albert Schanandoh
December 8, 1929 
6: Comparative relative pronouns
 1 notebook, 56 pagesbox 1

Notebook containing word comparison tables. Includes terms from Cherokee, Tuscarora, Mohawk, Oneida, Huron, Wyandot, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and "Pr."

General physical description: 1 notebook, 56 pages

7: Seneca vocabulary
19301 notebook (16 pages)box 1
8-A: Oneida notebook (original)
1929-19301 notebook (31 pages)box 1

Includes 3 texts in Oneida, 2 with interlinear English translation. One text concerns morality, using Christian terms. One text, dated March 7, 1930, concerns a meeting of the 6 Nations relating to a dispute with New York.

Restrictions on Access: A small portion of this notebook has been identified as culturally sensitive. Reproduction, including Reading Room photography, is restricted. Please consult the Curator of Native American Materials for more information.  A facsimile copy of the notebook, minus the portion, is also available for research use. Researchers may obtain reproduction from this facsimile copy.

General physical description: 1 notebook (31 pages)

8-B: Oneida notebook (facsimile)
19301 notebook (31 pages)box 1

Includes 3 texts in Oneida, 2 with interlinear English translation. One text concerns morality, using Christian terms. One text, dated March 7, 1930, concerns a meeting of the 6 Nations relating to a dispute with New York.

Other Descriptive Information: This is a facsimile copy of the original notebook minus the cover, which contains a culturally sensitive image. Only this copy may be used for obtaining reproductions of the text.

9: Seneca texts
December 19291 notebooks (70 pages)box 1

Contains 2 Seneca stories, with partial English interlinear translation. Recorded December 16-18, 1929.

General physical description: 1 notebooks (70 pages)

10: Iroquoian languages lexical files
circa 1928-19301 boxbox 4
Series II: Onondaga
  
Zeisberger, David, 1721-1808.
1: Essay of an Onondaga grammar
 1 notebook (46 pages)box 2

Photostat pages of Rev. David Zeisberger's "Essay of an Onondaga grammar, or a short introduction to learn the Onondaga al. Maqua tongue" pasted into a notebook.

General physical description: 1 notebook (46 pages)

Every, George V..
2: Onondaga and Seneca notebook
 1 notebook (43 pages)box 2

Notebook with 36 pages of notes in English on Seneca grammar, labeled "Schoon Meer". Reverse side of notebook contains 7 pages of notes on Onondaga grammar, including 1 page of "Handsome Lake Doctrines written by Geroge V. Every and translated in Onondaga Indian Language" from Onondaga Reservation "Feb 26, 190-". Cover includes note "Eerste contacten mit [First contact with] G. V. Every."

Restrictions on Access: This item has been identified as potentially culturally sensitive. Reproduction, including Reading Room photography, is restricted. Please consult the Curator of Native American Materials for more information.

General physical description: 1 notebook (43 pages)

Williams, Vinnie. Every, George V.. George, Lucenda.
3: Language and grammar (bound volumes)
1929-19302 volume(s); Multiple consectuive notebooks grouped together into two bound volume (1440 pages)volume Onondaga I & II

Consists of approximately 15 notebooks bound together into two volumes. Notebooks are continuously numbered, pages 1-1440. Most odd numbered pages (reverse sides of notebook pages) contain no text. A small percentage of other pages blank. Contents are primarily Onondaga phrases with English translations, arranged to demonstrate changes in gramamtical forms and word formation.  Pages 694-798 contain traditional names, with translations, organized according to clan and gender. Three Onondaga speakers are listed as consultants: George Van Every, Lucenda George, and Vinnie Williams.

General physical description: Multiple consectuive notebooks grouped together into two bound volume (1440 pages)

4: Onondaga texts I-IV
1929-19302 folders; 4 notebooks (500 pages)box 2

Texts in Onondaga, with English interlinear translations. Free translations of some of these texts are found in folder "Onondaga 5: Vrije Vertal [free translation]."

General physical description: 4 notebooks (500 pages)

5: Vrije Vertal [free translation]
February 20, 1930 box 2

Free translations in English of Onondaga texts found in folder "Onondaga 4: Onondaga texts 1-IV." Includes page number references to pages in original Onondaga notebook text.

Other Descriptive Information: 2 notebooks (142 pages)

6: Midwinter festival
January 19304 pagesbox 2

Schedule for Midwinter Festival ceremonies in January to early February 1930.

Restrictions on Access: This item has been identified as potentially culturally sensitive. Reproduction, including Reading Room photography, is restricted. Please consult the Curator of Native American Materials for more information.

General physical description: 4 pages

7: Cosmology (Englese tekst)
October 19291 notebook (21 pages); 8 loose pagesbox 2

Notebook contains one Onondaga "Cosmology" story in English. 6 loose pages of notes in Dutch (or Flemish) on Onondaga fieldwork and consultants. 2 loose pages in English on Onondaga consultants.

General physical description: 1 notebook (21 pages); 8 loose pages

Every, George V..
8: Handsome Lake doctrines
 99 photostat pagesbox 2

"Handsome Lake Doctrines written by George V. Every in Onondaga Indian Language. Feburary 26, 190-."

Restrictions on Access: This item has been identified as potentially culturally sensitive. Reproduction, including Reading Room photography, is restricted. Please consult the Curator of Native American Materials for more information.

General physical description: 99 photostat pages

9: Field notes, Tuscarora trip
19281 notebook (25 pages); 6 loose pages; 8 card slipsbox 2

Notebook labeled "Onon[daga]" and "Seneca" as well as "Tuscarora trip, 1928." Contents include info on Onondaga consultants, Onondaga words and phrases, Seneca words and phrases given by Peter Doctor. Loose page include notes on consultants at Grand River Reserve (1 p.); 2 letters to Olbrechts from Historical Society of Pennsylvania, August 1928; additional notes on historical sources for Onondaga language information. Card slips contain names of Mohawk, Tuscarora, Onondaga (at Ohsweken), Seneca, Wyandot, and Oneida consultants.

General physical description: 1 notebook (25 pages); 6 loose pages; 8 card slips

10: Onondaga lexical file
circa 1928-19303 boxbox 5-7
Series III: Tuscarora
  
1: Prescriptions for medicines
192814 pagesbox 3

Restrictions on Access: This item has been identified as potentially culturally sensitive. Reproduction, including Reading Room photography, is restricted. Please consult the Curator of Native American Materials for more information.

General physical description: 14 pages

2: Pronoun series
192818 pagesbox 3

Words and phrases in Tuscarora with English equivalents.

General physical description: 18 pages

3: Reflexive verbs
192823 pagesbox 3

Tuscarora words and phrases with English equivalents.

General physical description: 23 pages

4: Vertelsels [Tales] (Eng. Tekst)
19281 notebook (16 pages)box 3

Text in English given by "Mrs. Henry, 59."

General physical description: 1 notebook (16 pages)

5: Verbs and tenses
192843 pagesbox 3

Tuscarora words and phrases with English equivalents.

General physical description: 43 pages

6: Texts
19281 notebook (53 pages)box 3

8 texts in Tuscarora with English interlinear translation. Beginning of each text contains page reference to location of notes derived from each respective text in item "Tuscarora 9: Grammatical materials and relations."

General physical description: 1 notebook (53 pages)

7: Relations
192837 pagesbox 3

Tuscarora words and phrases with English equivalents.

General physical description: 37 pages

. 8: Grammar: Negative Interrogative Passive
192827 pagesbox 3

Tuscarora words and phrases with English equivalents.

General physical description: 27 pages

9: Grammatical materials and relations [bound volumes]
19282 volume(s); Multiple consectuive notebooks grouped together into two bound volume (1232 pages)volume Tuscarora I & II

Contents are primarily Tuscarora phrases with English translations, arranged to demonstrate changes in gramamtical forms, word formation, and other linguistic features. A large section of the notebooks is derived from texts appearing in item "Tuscarora 6: Texts"

General physical description: Multiple consectuive notebooks grouped together into two bound volume (1232 pages)

10-A1: Correspondence with Franz Boas
October 19285 pagesbox 3

Letter to Franz Boas, October 5, 1928. (4 pages) Preliminary report by Olbrechts on his fieldwork conducted in the summer of 1928 at Grand River, Cattaraugus, Tonawanda, and Syracuse. LIsts main consultants, quantity and general contents of material produced, as well as general summary of linguistic findings.  Letter to Franz Boas, October 12, 1928. (1 pages) Report by Olbrechts on the type and quantity of material collected during his fieldwork at Tuscarora Reservation in the summer of 1928.

10-A2: De pronominale Prefixen in het Tuscarora
192810 pagesbox 3

Draft essay in Flemish (or Dutch). "The pronomial prefix in Tuscarora."

10-A3: Grammatical material
1928130 pagesbox 3

Beginning draft for a grammatical sketch of Tuscarora. Consists mainly of headings for planned sections on different aspects of the language. Approximately 15% of the pages have additional text, the remainder are blank beyond the headings.

10-A4: Grammatical material (oversize)
192813 pagesos Drawer 15

Charts of grammatical data.

11: Information on reservations
19281 notebook (16 pages)box 3

Contains Olbrechts' notes on his contacts at various Haudenosaunee reservations, primarily on Onondaga, Alleghany, Cattaraugus, Tonawanda, and Tuscarora, along with general info on these and additional communities.

12: Field report and linguistic notes
192870 pagesbox 3

Includes 6-page report sent to Franz Boas, including names of people met, 1-page story with interlinear translation, 19-page report to general audience, word and grammatical charts.

13: Onondaga grammar (use photocopies)
 2 folders; 142 photocopy pagesbox 3
14: Notebooks
19283 notebooks (103 pages)box 3

Includes word lists, grammatical forms, interlinear texts, including texts in Seneca given by Avis Doxtater.

15: Tuscarora lexical file
circa 1928-19306 boxbox 8-13
15.1: Botany #1
 64 p.box 8

Includes a botanical specimen.

15.2: Botany #2
 93 p.box 8
Olbrechts, Frans M., 1899-1958.
15.3: English-Tuscarora lexicon #1
 2883 p.box 8-9
15.4: English-Tuscarora lexicon #2
  box 10
15.5: Tuscarora-English lexicon
  box 10-12
15.6: Tuscarora grammatical file (alphabetical)
  box 12
15.7: Tuscarora grammatical file (by category)
  box 12-13
15.8: Miscellaneous grammatical and unorganized slips
  box 13