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American Indian Collection

Identifier: American Indian Collection

Scope and Contents

The American Indian Collection is a small, eclectic collection of 18th and 19th century materials related to indigenous peoples in North America and their languages. The highlight of this artificial collection is the original manuscript of French Jesuit missionary Rev. Jacques Gravier (1651-1708), entitled 'Dictionary of the Algonquin Illinois Language' (ca. 1700), which was acquired and partially transcribed by James Hammond Trumbull (1821-1897), a noted philologist and statesman. It also includes correspondence from various institutions of white imperialism which interacted with Native Americans, including the U.S. Army and the Smithsonian Bureau of Ethnology. The collection also contains two Catholic liturgy and prayer books (in manuscript) partially written in Abenaki, along with notebooks by amateur linguists, historians, and antiquarians (such as Samuel Gardner Drake) containing vocabularies related to the Seminole, Menominee, Ojibwe, Mickmac, and Sioux-Dakota languages.

Also included are supplemental materials from the 1990s about the Gravier Algonquin-Illinois Dictionary, as well as a small folder of manuscripts and correspondence involving the study of the Kiowa language by Parker Paul McKenzie, identified in the documents as a "member of the Kiowa tribe."

Materials were added to the collection at unknown times related to additional subjects about American Indians.


  • Creation: 1688-1998


Language of Materials

Collection material is in Abenaki, Algonquin-Illinois, Appalachian, English, Menominee, Mickmac, Nahuatl, Ojibwe, Spanish, and Timuquan.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to the public and must be used in the John M.K. Davis Reading Room of the Watkinson Library, Trinity College Library, Hartford, Connecticut. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws when using this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with the duplication policy of the Watkinson Library.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information (e.g. social security numbers) in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.

Biographical / Historical

This collection began when James Hammond Trumbull (1821-1897), a noted philologist, statesman, and President of the Connecticut Historical Society from 1863-1889, began to collect and transcribe manuscripts related to linguistic studies of indigenous tribes in North America along with translated prayer books and works about Native Americans. Most notably, Trumbull acquired the original manuscript of missionary Jacques Gravier’s Dictionary of the Algonquin Illinois Language (ca. 1700), which he partially transcribed (the transcription is located in the J. Hammond Trumbull collection). Trumbull went on to write The Composition of Indian Geographical Names (1870), and Indian Names of Places in Connecticut (1881).


1.5 Cubic Feet (2 flat boxes and 1 legal-size archival box)


Collection is arranged in several series based loosely on chronology. Within each series, the folders are organized by chronology, with undated materials at the end of each series. The manuscript 'Dictionary of the Algonquin Illinois Language,' and all of its photocopies, are housed separately from other materials in two flat boxes.

Existence and Location of Copies

The Gravier Dictionary has been digitized and made available by The Internet Archive:

Electronic facsimiles of the Gravier Dictionary are also available from the Watkinson Library upon request.

Related Materials

J. Hammond Trumbull's partial transcription of the 'Dictionary of the Algonquin Illinois Language' is located in the J. Hammond Trumbull collection:

Guide to the American Indian Collection
In Progress
Michelle C. Sigiel and Eric C. Stoykovich
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2021-11-08: Extensive revisions were made by Eric C. Stoykovich (Manuscript Librarian) to Scope and Contents, Arrangement, and Biographical/Historical notes. 'Existence/Location of Copies' and 'Related Materials' added.

Repository Details

Part of the Watkinson Library - Archival Collections Repository

Trinity College Library
300 Summit St.
Hartford Connecticut 06106