Walter McClintock Papers
Scope and Contents
The photographic material in the collection provides rich visual documentation of the activities of Piegan Indians in the early twentieth century, as well as views of the landscape in western Montana and southern Alberta. McClintock used these images for lantern slides to accompany his lectures, to create prints for his photographic exhibitions, and to illustrate his publications.
Photograph albums in the collection document the activities of McClintock as student at Yale College from 1887 to 1891, as well as his participation in the Princeton University Expedition in Utah and Yellowstone National Park in 1895 and a tour by the National Forest Commission in the western United States in 1896. Many albums also detail the activities of the Piegan Indians. Scrapbooks document Poia, his lecture series, photographic exhibitions, and books.
The collection includes contemporary archival reproductions of most of the original negatives created by McClintock, as well as a set of contemporary photographic prints made from the reproduced negatives. The contemporary prints represent the most complete set of prints of McClintock’s work in the collection. A microfilm of these prints provides an alternate way to browse the collection.
- 1874 - 1949
- Majority of material found within 1888 - 1949
Conditions Governing Access
Existence and Location of Copies
Conditions Governing Use
Immediate Source of Acquisition
87.5 Linear Feet ((207 boxes) + 9 broadsides)
Language of Materials
Walter McClintock (1870-1949)
After graduation from Yale, Walter McClintock worked in the carpet business of his family. In 1893, he worked with Jones and Laughlin, steel manufacturers in Pittsburgh. In 1895, after a severe case of typhoid fever, McClintock went to the American West to recuperate and joined a Princeton University Scientific Expedition. In this geological expedition, McClintock traveled through North Dakota, Wyoming, and Idaho, and made a long horseback journey through the wilderness areas in the West.
When McClintock returned to Pittsburgh, he rejoined the family business. In the summer of 1896, he visited Montana and the western United States with the National Forest Commission, a creation of the National Academy of Sciences and funded by the United States Congress. The commission, which consisted of Charles Sargent (chair), Henry L. Abbot, William Henry Brewster, Alexander Agassiz, Arnold Hague, Gifford Pinchot (secretary), and Wolcott Gibbs (member ex-officio) traveled throughout the West touring existing forest reserves and areas for proposed reserves. John Muir and Henry Solon Graves accompanied the commission on parts of their investigations. McClintock, who had some interest in forestry, went along as a photographer.
When the commission completed its work, McClintock chose to stay in Montana. He had become friendly with a guide of the expedition, William Jackson (1860-1899), also known as Sik-Sik-Ka-Kwan (Little Black Foot), a quarter-blood Piegan Indian (the Piegan Indians are also known as the Blackfoot Indians or Blackfeet Indians) and a former United States Army Indian Scout. Jackson offered to take McClintock with him to the camp of the Piegan Indians and introduce him to the tribal leaders.
McClintock and Jackson traveled through the Rocky Mountains to a tribal camp, where McClintock met many chiefs. He became interested in the Piegan Indians and their culture, and stayed among the Piegan Indians and studied their way of life, their history, and their traditions. With his camera equipment from the National Forest Commission, McClintock made a photographic record of many activities and objects. McClintock immersed himself in tribal life; he traveled, hunted, and lived with them, and kept records of his experiences and discoveries.
After nearly two years among the Piegan Indians, Siyeh (died 1902, pronounced Sai-yeh), whose name means "Crazy Dog" or "Mad Wolf," adopted McClintock into the tribe. After his adoption, the tribe called McClintock, A-pe-ech-eken (White Weasel Moccasin). As a trusted member of the tribe, McClintock made both written and photographic records of sacred rituals. He also gathered information on legends, traditions, music, customs, and crafts.
In 1900, McClintock returned to Pittsburgh, and worked for the Opalite Tile Company, but he continued to visit the Piegan Indian tribes through the next decade. McClintock often described spending "fifteen years among the Indians," but this is an exaggeration. McClintock spent considerable periods among the Piegan Indians, but it is difficult to determine the exact duration.
In 1906, McClintock combined his photographs and his knowledge of the Piegan Indians in a series of lectures. The lectures featured hand-colored lantern slides and his renditions of songs and chants. His lectures met with widespread success, and he continued to lecture on American Indian topics throughout his life.
In 1907, McClintock went to Europe. He spent a significant amount of time in Berlin and lectured at the United States Embassy, as well as delivering lectures to Friedrich Wilhelm, the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Prussia and members of the Prussian court. His lectures and research attracted the attention of Karl von den Steinen, a German physician, ethnologist, and explorer, who arranged for McClintock to address the Berlin Anthropological Society. McClintock also gave lectures for scientific and general audiences in Germany and Great Britain, including the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. In Great Britain, his lectures attracted interest from social anthropologist James George Frazer and classical scholar William Ridgeway. In 1911, McClintock received an Artium Magistrum (Honorary) from Yale College.
Beside his research and lectures, McClintock developed and promoted an opera based on Piegan Indian legends. Arthur Finley Nevin (1871-1943) composed the opera, Poia (Scarface), and Randolph Hartley (1870-1931) wrote its libretto. In 1903 and 1904, McClintock and Nevin made two expeditions to Piegan Indian camps to record tribal melodies and absorb knowledge of American Indian life. McClintock and others financially supported the work by Nevin on the opera, which he completed in 1906. Poia was first performed as a concert in Pittsburgh in 1907. That same year, Theodore Roosevelt invited Nevin to the White House to give an illustrated talk on his work, but little interest came from the American musical establishment. Instead, Poia received its stage premiere in 1909 at the Royal Opera House in Berlin, with musical revisions by Engelbert Humperdinck and a German translation of the libretto by Eugenie von Huhn.
McClintock wrote several articles on American Indian topics, as well as two books: The Old North Trail: Or, Life, Legends and Religion of the Blackfeet Indians (London: Macmillan and Co., 1910) and Old Indian Trails (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1923). In 1927, the Southwest Museum of the American Indian in Los Angeles, California, appointed McClintock a Research Fellow in Ethnology. He often contributed to the institution's magazine, The Masterkey. McClintock wrote several pamphlets for the Southwest Museum of the American Indian, including "The Tragedy of the Blackfoot" (1930), "Painted Tipis and Picture-Writing of the Blackfoot Indians" (1936), and "Blackfoot Medicine-Pipe Ceremony" (1948).
In 1936, Yale appointed McClintock Curator of the McClintock Indian Collection in the Yale University Library. As part of his position, McClintock delivered an annual lantern slide illustrated lecture about the Beaver Bundle.
McClintock died in 1949 at 78 years old.
Many of the descriptions of photographic materials derive from lists created by McClintock; this includes the exhibition prints, glass negatives, and film negatives. Whenever possible, McClintock's nomenclature has been preserved. Consequently, descriptions of photographic materials in the collection inconsistently express names and terms. For example, "Brings-Down-the-Sun" and "Brings Down the Sun," "Circle-Camp," and "Circle Camp", and "tipi" and "teepee." Titles created by library staff appear within brackets in the collection.
Throughout his papers and photographic materials, McClintock refers to the Piegan Indians as "Blackfoot Indians" or "Blackfeet Indians." He also refers to individual Native Americans by different names, such as Siyeh and Mad Wolf. In his lantern slides, McClintock often appropriated the images of one person to stand in for another, for instance Onesta for Siyeh.
In 2012, library staff discarded a traveling case used by McClintock to transport exhibition prints.
- Alberta -- Description and travel
- Alberta -- Pictorial works
- Hartley, Randolph, 1870-1931
- Hartley, Randolph, 1870-1931 (Poia)
- Huhn, Eugenie von
- Humperdinck, Engelbert, 1854-1921
- Indians of North America
- Indians of North America -- Pictorial works
- Jackson, William, 1860-1899
- Kainah Indians
- Kainah Indians -- Pictorial works
- Lantern slides
- McClintock, Walter, 1870-1949
- McClintock, Walter, 1870-1949 (Old Indian trails)
- McClintock, Walter, 1870-1949 (Old north trail)
- Montana -- Description and travel
- Montana -- Pictorial works
- National Forest Commission
- Nevin, Arthur, 1871-1943
- Nevin, Arthur, 1871-1943 (Poia)
- Photograph albums
- Photographic prints
- Piegan Indians
- Princeton Scientific Expedition -- 1895
- Siksika Indians -- Pictorial works
- Siksika Indians -- Songs and music
- Siyeh, -1902
- Southwest Museum of the American Indian
- West (U.S.) -- Description and travel
- West (U.S.) -- Pictorial works
- Yale University
- Yale University -- Pictorial works
- Yale University -- Students
- Yale University -- Students -- Pictorial works
- Yale University. Library
- Guide to the Water McClintock Papers
- Under Revision
- by Matthew Daniel Mason
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
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