William E. Myers, where are you now?
Or, since I’d rather not disturb the dead, and you were one of several on Edward Curtis‘s crew, where are the “North American Indian” field notes and sound recordings from the early 1900s?
William E. Myers, a former newspaperman, became the single most important recruit. In later years Curtis frequently expressed his indebtedness to Myers’ gift for languages and his ethnological assistance, but he did not publicly disclose that Myers was in fact the person responsible for the bulk of both the research and the writing of each succeeding volume of The North American Indian.
Other ethnological assistants were employed, including Curtis’ nephew by marriage, William Washington “Bill” Phillips [a University of Washington graduate], Edmund August Schwinke, Edwin J. Dalby [a student of Edmond Meany] and, on Myers’ resignation ahead of the final two volumes, Stewart C. Eastwood. (From the Library of Congress website)
At least Myers and Schwinke were stenographers, taking down information in shorthand. Myers is said to have been gifted with an excellent ear for the phonetics of Indian languages. The published volumes of “The North American Indian” bear this out fully. The only papers I’ve yet found archived are the Edward S. Curtis Papers at Northwest Digital Archive (which seem to be copies of what’s at UW) and the Edward S. Curtis Papers at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York (which are mostly correspondence).
It’s reported that the Curtis party made a large number of sound recordings on wax cylinders during the several years of this project. These are potentially very valuable information too. Some, probably those that document songs but not speech, are at the Archives of Traditional Music at Indiana University, Bloomington.
So–where are all these materials? The Wikipedia article on Curtis lists several archives of his photos. But I’d appreciate clues about finding these linguistic materials…
Can you help?