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Abstract

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.

Background note

The ethnographer Frank Gouldsmith Speck was unusual among the students of Franz Boas in choosing to study the Indian cultures of the eastern United States that he believed were in severe decline. As one of Boas' first graduate students at Columbia, Speck worked extensively in the state of Connecticut, attempting to "salvage" what remained of the native cultures, recording, for example, the Mohegan Pequot language from one of its last native speakers, Fidelia Hoscott Fielding. After completing his degree in 1908, Speck became Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, becoming one of the best know re his research among the Algonquian peoples of the northeast.

Beginning in the 1920s, Speck began to expand the scope of his research to include Indian piopulations in the mid-Atlantic states and the southeast. In his studies of the North Carolina Cherokee, Speck's primary consultant and collaborator was Will West Long. Born in Big Cove, N.C., on January 25, 1870, Long was raised in traditional Cherokee. At 25, he studied at Hampton Institute in Virginia, and spent five years after that working in Massachusetts before returning to Big Cove during the fall of 1904. For 28 years he was a member of the Cherokee tribal council, and served as clerk for an additional two, but Long played a key role in collecting and tramsitting information about traditional Cherokee culture to younger generations, passing on knowledge about Cherokee medicine, carving, music and dance, and language. Long, who died in 1947, was listed a co-author of Speck's and Leonard Bloom's on Cherokee Dance and Drama (Norman, Okla.: 1951).

Scope and content

The Frank 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. These include 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, 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.

Collection information

Restrictions

Restrictions on Use:

Some items in this collection have been designated as culturally sensitive and may not be reproduced, nor photographed in the Reading Room. The items subject to this restriction are designated as such in the Detailed Inventory section of this finding aid. Please consult a librarian for more information.

Provenance

Transferred from the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania, June 1958 (accn. no. 1958-1400ms).

Preferred citation

Cite as: Frank Speck Cherokee Collection, American Philosophical Society.

Processing information

Catalogued rsc, April 2003.

Alternate formats available

The Speck Cherokee Collection has been microfilmed (Film 1429, reels 15 and 16).

Other finding aids

The Speck Collection is also indexed in the On-line guide to American Indian Manuscripts in the Collections of the APS.

Related material

Other material on Cherokee language and culture can be found indexed in the on-line guide to American Indian Manuscripts in the Collections of the APS.

The Frank Speck Papers (572.97 Sp3) contains a biographical sketch of Will West Long (17:4D7), and some correspondence with West Long (17:4D1).

Indexing Terms

Genre(s)

  • Diaries.

Personal Name(s)

  • Calhoun, Morgan
  • Mooney, James, 1861-1921
  • Speck, Frank Gouldsmith, 1881-1950
  • West Long, Will
  • Witthoft, John

Subject(s)

  • Cherokee Indians--Medicine
  • Cherokee language
  • Indians of North America--Languages


Detailed Inventory
Letters
1943-1944 2 items Request Series
1. Speck, Frank Gouldsmith, 1881-1950.
TLS to Marion Godfrey
October 9, 1943 1p. Box 1
Request Item

Letter missing, 1990.

1. Speck, Frank Gouldsmith, 1881-1950.
TLS to George
August 30, 1944 2p. Box 1
Request Item
Volumes
1880-1948 22 items Box 1
Request Series
1. Long, Will West.
Medical curing forumlae in Cherokee syllabary
1900-1904 1 vol. (19p.) Box 1
Request Item

Written in canvas notebook labeled "Hampton, Va." In Cherokee syllabary, with 4p. of Speck's notes, running paraphrase in English. Freeman and Smith 676.

Restrictions on Access: This item has been designated as culturally sensitive. Reproduction of it, including by photography in the Reading Room, is restricted. Please consult a librarian for more information.

2. Long, Will West.
Curing charms and formulae, with a "prayer for unattractive man to attract women"
1912 (1926-27) 1 vol. Box 1
Request Item

In book bound in black paper. Love charm on p. 36. Volume bought by Long from "old man Mink" (d. ca.1912) of Big Cove, copied in 1926-1927. Freeman and Smith 675.

Restrictions on Use: Reproduction of this item, including reading room photography, is restricted due to cultural sensitivity concerns. Please consult a librarian for more information.

3. Calhoun, Morgan.
Curing formulae and charms
1883 1 vol. (72p.) Box 1
Request Item

Disbound. Calhoun, half-brother of Will West Long, was from Big Cove. In Cherokee. Freeman and Smith 646

Restrictions on Use: Reproduction of this item, including reading room photography, is restricted due to cultural sensitivity concerns. Please consult a librarian for more information.

4. Calhoun, Morgan.
Curing formulae, with drawing of frog inside cover
1919 1 vol. (44p.) Box 1
Request Item

Bound in paper notebook titled "Perfection." Mainly curing formulae, in Cherokee, with some personal accounts. Freeman and Smith 648.

Restrictions on Use: Reproduction of this item, including reading room photography, is restricted due to cultural sensitivity concerns. Please consult a librarian for more information.

5. Unidentified.
Medicinal texts in Cherokee syllabary
1922-1925 1 vol. (23p.) Box 1
Request Item

Minute volume (2 x 3.5") bound in black paper, in Cherokee. Freeman and Smith 678.

Restrictions on Use: Reproduction of this item, including reading room photography, is restricted due to cultural sensitivity concerns. Please consult a librarian for more information.

6. Mooney, James, 1861-1921.
Account of payments; Cherokee-English vocabulary (syllabary); assorted Cherokee texts
1909-1915 1 vol. (120p.) Box 1
Request Item

Freeman and Smith 668.

7. Long, Will West.
Diary, kept at Needham, Mass., and at Cherokee
1904-1905 1 vol. (385p.) Box 1
Request Item

In Cherokee and English. Freeman and Smith 671.

Restrictions on Use: Reproduction of this item, including reading room photography, is restricted due to cultural sensitivity concerns. Please consult a librarian for more information.

8. Long, Will West.
I. Cherokee Diary
September 27, 1911-Apr. 15, 1913 1 vol. (140p.) Box 1
Request Item

In Cherokee. With a few curing formulae at the end. Freeman and Smith 669.

Restrictions on Use: Reproduction of this item, including reading room photography, is restricted due to cultural sensitivity concerns. Please consult a librarian for more information.

9. Long, Will West.
II. Diary
Sept. 20, 1913-Aug. 17, 1915 1 vol. (140p.) Box 1
Request Item

In Cherokee, with death and birth records at center of book. Freeman and Smith 669.

10. III. Notes and secretary's accounts of the Big Cove Gadugi, with curing formulaw and charms.
n.d. 1 vol. (4p.), 8 items Box 1
Request Item

In Cherokee. Includes Speck's phonetic transcript and glosses for several pages. Freeman and Smith 688.

Restrictions on Use: Reproduction of this item, including reading room photography, is restricted due to cultural sensitivity concerns. Please consult a librarian for more information.

11. Long, Will West.
IV. Curing charms and sacred formulae collected by Will West Long
April 1913-1919 1 vol. (19p.) Box 1
Request Item

In Cherokee. Includes some phonetic transcript and glosses for several pages. Freeman and Smith 670.

Restrictions on Use: Reproduction of this item, including reading room photography, is restricted due to cultural sensitivity concerns. Please consult a librarian for more information.

12. Long, Will West.
Ledger in Cherokee syllabary, including vital statistics and personal notes; Big Cove
1897-1908 1 vol. (59p.) Box 2
Request Item

In Cherokee. Freeman and Smith 674.

13. Long, Will West.
Diary and notes in Cherokee
1917-1928 1 vol. (134p.) Box 2
Request Item

In Cherokee. Freeman and Smith 672.

14 Long, Will West.
Diary
Jan. 22, 1916-Oct. 19, 1916 1 vol. (122p.) Box 2
Request Fonds

In Cherokee.

Freeman and Smith 672.

Restrictions on Use: Reproduction of this item, including reading room photography, is restricted due to cultural sensitivity concerns. Please consult a librarian for more information.

15. Long, Will West.
Diary
Aug. 28-Sept. 12, 1911 2 vols. (32p. each) Box 2
Request Item

In Cherokee. Written sparsely in printed notebooks. Freeman and Smith 672.

16. Long, Will West.
Diary, accounts, notes
1891-1917 5 vols. (48p. each) Box 2
Request Item

In Cherokee. Written sparsely in printed notebooks. Freeman and Smith 673.

Restrictions on Use: Reproduction of this item, including reading room photography, is restricted due to cultural sensitivity concerns. Please consult a librarian for more information.

17. Calhoun, Morgan.
Curing texts concerning stomach pains, etc., caused by sorcery
ca.1880 1 vol. (10p.) Box 2
Request Item

In Cherokee. Freeman and Smith 647.

Restrictions on Use: Reproduction of this item, including reading room photography, is restricted due to cultural sensitivity concerns. Please consult a librarian for more information.

18. Unidentified.
Curing charms and Cherokee syllabary
n.d. 1 vol. (10p.) Box 2
Request Item

In Cherokee. Written on paper pad. Freeman and Smith 654.

Restrictions on Use: Reproduction of this item, including reading room photography, is restricted due to cultural sensitivity concerns. Please consult a librarian for more information.

19. Unidentified.
Minutes of Gadugi meetings, Big Cove
1932 1 vol., loose sheets Box 2
Request Item

In Cherokee. Includes Speck's transcript and photostats of same. Freeman and Smith 680.

Restrictions on Use: Reproduction of this item, including reading room photography, is restricted due to cultural sensitivity concerns. Please consult a librarian for more information.

20. Unidentified.
Cherokee-English vocabulary and curing charms
n.d. 2 vol. (30p. total) Box 2
Request Item

In Cherokee. Freeman and Smith 650.

Restrictions on Use: Reproduction of this item, including reading room photography, is restricted due to cultural sensitivity concerns. Please consult a librarian for more information.

21. Unidentified.
Medicinal charms and conjuring formulae
1948 ca.50p. Box 2
Request Item

In Cherokee. Purchased by Speck from Allen Long, March 1, 1948. Freeman and Smith 677.

Restrictions on Use: Reproduction of this item, including reading room photography, is restricted due to cultural sensitivity concerns. Please consult a librarian for more information.

22. Mooney, James, 1861-1921.
Cherokee botany
before 1887 1 vol. Box 2
Request Item

In Cherokee. Includes bookplate of James Mooney inside front cover. Botanical material analyzed with informants Will West Long and Molly Sequoia. Referred to as Mooney Manuscript in Witthoft's Cherokee Ethnobotany; also includes accounts and birth and death records, medicinal formulae. The manuscript was apparently left by Mooney and ended up with Will West Long. Freeman and Smith 609.

Restrictions on Use: Reproduction of this item, including reading room photography, is restricted due to cultural sensitivity concerns. Please consult a librarian for more information.