Harvard Museum Says It Has Hair Clippings from 700 Native Children Who Attended Indian Boarding Schools

 

WOODBURY:

Between 1930-1933, anthropologist George Edward Woodbury, Curator of the State Historical Society of Colorado, was researching potential connections between Indigenous communities to study human variation and support early anthropological theories around the peopling of North America. To build this collection of hair samples, Woodbury reached out to other anthropologists and archaeologists, as well as administrators at a wide variety of U.S. Indian reservations, U.S. Indian boarding schools, and Canadian hospitals as well as missionaries worldwide. He collected approximately 1,500 samples from Asia, Central America, North America, Oceania, and South America. The Colorado State Museum published a short paper by Woodbury and his wife, Edna Woodbury, about this work in 1932. In 1935, Woodbury came to Harvard University to serve as a lecturer and research fellow in anthropology. Woodbury brought the collection with him. In 1938, Woodbury left Harvard and the discipline of anthropology. The collection of hair samples remained at the Peabody.  

PDF of 1932 article

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Last week Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology released information announcing that the museum holds a collection of hair clippings taken from Native/Indigenous relatives by an anthropologist who later made his way to Harvard in 1935, and thereby bringing the collection to campus. This anthropologist's primary focus was on Indigenous people from the United States and the hair came from over 900 relatives from U.S. tribal nations. The scope of the collection is large and over 300 tribes are represented. One of the most disturbing things related to this collection is that hair was taken from over 700 relatives who were in U.S. boarding schools at the time of collection. 

The Peabody Museum at Harvard stewards a collection of hair samples from Indigenous people around the world assembled by anthropologist George Edward Woodbury in the 1930s and donated to the Museum. The vast majority are from North America, including clippings of hair from approximately 700 Native American children attending U.S. Indian Boarding Schools. Many of those samples have the names of the individuals whose hair was taken.

We want to support the reconnection of families and tribal nations with their relatives to facilitate the process of healing. This website makes available information on this collection, which includes the tribal affiliations of Native American individuals in the United States whose hair was taken, as well as the sites of collection, such as boarding schools, reservations, and museums.

This website shares a list of tribal affiliations and sites of collection. The Peabody Museum is fully committed to the return of hair back to families and tribal nations.

Acoma
Aleut
Apache
Arapaho
Arikara
Assiniboine
Bannock
Blackfoot
Chemehuevi
Cherokee
Cheyenne River Sioux
Cheyenne
Chippewa
Choctaw
Comanche
Concow
Copper River Indians
Cree
Creek
Crow
Digger
Eel River
Eskimo
Flathead
Fox; Sauk
Gros Ventre
Hoopa
Hopi
Inuit
Isleta
Jemez
Karok
Kiowa
Klamath
Kodiak
Laguna
Maidu
Mandan
Mission
Miwok
Miwok; Yosemite
Modoc
Mojave
Mono
Navajo
Nez Percé
Nisqually
Oglala Sioux
Omaha
Oneida 
Otoe
Ottawa
Paiute
Papago
Pawnee
Pima
Pitt River
Pomo
Ponca
Potawatomi
Pueblo
Puyallup
Quinleute
San Felipe
San Ildefonso
San Juan
Sandia
Santa Ana
Santa Clara
Santo Domingo
Seminole 
Shoshone
Siletz
Sioux
Snohomish
Snoqualmie
Suquamish
Swinomish
Tana
Taos
Tesuque
Tewa
Tulalip
Ukie
Umpqua
Uncompahgre
Ute
Wailaki
Walapai
Washoe
Wichita
Winnebago
Wintun
Yankton
Yuma
Zia
Zuñi

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