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W.J. McGee Photograph Collection 1894-1895

MS 483

Collection Summary

Creator: McGee, W. J. 1853-1912 Dinwiddie, William
Collection Name: W.J. McGee Photograph Collection
Inclusive Dates: 1894-1895
Physical Description:2 linear feet
Abstract:Photographs, 1894-1895, originals and copy prints, mostly taken by William Dinwiddie (1894-1895), with some taken by J. W. Mitchell (1895) of two expeditions, led by W. J. McGee, to study the Tohono O’odham Indians of southern Arizona and northern Sonora, Mexico, and the Seri Indians of Mexico. The images document homes, people, and household and work activities including pottery and basket making.
Collection Number:MS 483
Repository: University of Arizona Libraries, Special Collections
University of Arizona
PO Box 210055
Tucson, AZ 85721-0055
Phone: 520-621-6423
Fax: 520-621-9733

Biographical Note

Born in Iowa in 1853, anthropologist, ethnologist, and geologist William J. McGee worked for the U.S. Geological Survey from 1881 until 1893 when the Bureau of American Ethnology was formed. He was in charge of the Bureau from 1893 to 1903. During that time, he conducted field expeditions to study the Tohono O’odham Indians in southern Arizona and Seri Indians in Sonora, Mexico in late 1894 and late 1895. He held various other prominent scientific positions until his death in 1912.

Photographer William Dinwiddie, born in Virginia in 1867, worked for the Bureau of American Ethnology from 1886 to 1895, then became a journalist and war correspondent.

Scope and Content Note

Photographs, taken during anthropological and ethnographical expeditions in late 1894 and late 1895, mostly by photographer William Dinwiddie, of Tohono O’odham Indians, Seri Indians, Mexico scenes, and expedition members. Many of the individuals are identified and activities are described on the photographs.

Images of Tohono O’odham Indians include individuals and family groups, homes, and village views as well as activities such as placer mining, pottery making, hair washing, tortilla making, basket making, and grinding flour. There are also photographs documenting artifacts and structures including baskets, ollas, metates, women’s seclusion huts, chicken coops, and a bee hive oven. There are portraits of identified individuals including Tohono O’odham leaders Francis Rios, Carlos Rios, and Jose Juan Cristobal. Highlights include a series of step-by-step photographs of men building a brush house, men playing a wah-pe-ta game, and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet with schoolchildren. The images were mostly taken on the San Xavier Indian Reservation at locations such as Vamori, Cienega, Pitiquito, Fresnal, Little Tucson, Sycamore Canyon, and San Xavier.

Portraits of Seri Indians were mostly taken at their camp at Pascual Encinas’ Rancho de Costa Rica near Hermosillo, Mexico. These include identified individuals and family groups and their homes. On one image it was noted that “the girl declined to remove her shirt when asked.” There are also photographs present of Seri homes, a few artifacts and the expedition camp on Tiburon Island, Sonora, Mexico. A small amount of photographs are also present of Mexican scenes in Sonora including a blacksmith shop, churches, townspeople and adobe homes.


This collection is organized into two series:
Series I: William Dinwiddie, Photographer, 1894-1895
Series II: J. W. Mitchell, Photographer, 1895



There are no restrictions on this collection


It is the responsibility of the user to obtain permission to publish from the owner of the copyright (the institution, the creator of the record, the author or his/her transferees, heirs, legates, or literary executors). The user agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the Arizona Board of Regents for the University of Arizona, its officers, employees, and agents from and against all claims made by any person asserting that he or she is an owner of copyright.

Related Material

The National Anthropological Archives of the Smithsonian Institution holds glass plate negatives of the McGee expeditions.

Access Terms

Personal Name(s)
McGee, W. J., 1853-1912 – Photographs

Geographic Name(s)
Hermosillo (Mexico) – Photographs
Tohono O’odham Reservation (Ariz.) – Photographs

Seri Indians – Photographs – 19th century
Tohono O’odham Indians – Games - Photographs
Tohono O’odham Indians – Photographs – 19th century
Tohono O’odham Indians – Social life and customs – Photographs – 19th century
Tohono O’odham women – Photographs – 19th century

Administrative Information

Credit Line

W.J. McGee Photograph Collection (MS 483). University of Arizona Library Special Collections.

Container List

Series I: William Dinwiddie, Photographer 1894-1895
This series is arranged by location, and previously assigned numbers corresponding to location, possibly following the sequence of the expeditions. This organization was retained for the convenience of researchers who many have used the collection in the past when it was housed with the Arizona Southwest Photo files.
11 Sonora, Mexico (Magdalena, San Ignacio, Nogales).
Mexican blacksmith shop, Nogales building, women washing clothes in acequia, adobe house, church, No. 1-9.

12 Querobabi, Hermosillo.
Tohono O’odham home, cradle, people, Hermosillo church, cemetery, market scene, No. 10-23.

13 Rancho de Costa Rica.
Seri individuals and family groups, No. 24-28, 30-37.

14 Rancho de Costa Rica.
Seri individuals and family groups, No. 38-50.

15 Rancho de Costa Rica. Seri individuals and family groups, No. 51-56, 58-64.
Seri individuals and family groups, No. 51-56, 58-64.

16 Rancho de Costa Rica, Hermosillo.
Adobe ranch home, Encinas family, arrastra, No. 65-66, 68-71.

21 Poso Nueva, Poso Noriego, Santa Rosa.
Tohono O’odham home, Interpreter Jose Lewis, flour mill, blacksmith,expedition camp, No. 72-75.

22 Cienega (Cieneguella), Caborca.
Tohono O’odham homes, placer mining, pottery making, mission church, No. 75-88.

23 Pitiquito.
Tohono O’odham home, women and children, tortilla making, oven, No. 88a-c, 90-100.

24 Altar, Ventana (Vamori), San Juaquin.
Mexican Rancheria, horse branding, expedition camp, wagon and meal, Tohono O’odham home, Baboquivari Peak, cattle, horse branding, No. 100-105.

25 Fresnal, Pitoikam.
Tohono O’odham homes, families, children, cooking, granary basket, olla, burden basket, hair washing, cowboys, No. 106-126.

26 Upper Fresnal, Kohi Kug.
Tohono O’odham homes, people, cheese making, cattle, cowboy, No. 127-143.

27 Bosque (Sycamore Canyon), LittleTucson, CoyoteVillage.
Tohono O’odham groups, camp, village view of Coyote Village (Pan Tak), granary, cradle board, womens seclusion hut, metate, No. 144-160.

31 San Xavier Indian Reservation.
Tohono O’odham village views, San Xavier Mission exterior and interior views, Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet with school children, men building a brush house step-by-step, womens seclusion hut, burden basket, granary, No. 161-187.

32 San Xavier Indian Reservation.
Tohono O’odham homes, people, village, Hugh Norris home and store, chicken coops, bee hive oven, granary basket, burden basket, baskets, pottery, basket making, grinding flour, No. 187-207.

33 San Xavier Indian Reservation.
Tohono O’odham ball player, men playing wah-pe-ta game, pottery making, burden baskets filled with black-on-red water jars, woman demonstrating carrying water jar, No. 208-231.

34 San Xavier Indian Reservation. Tohono O’odham Indians meeting to plan Feast of St. Francis Xavier, portraits of leaders Francis Rios, Carlos Rios, Jose Juan Cristobal, and other identified men and women, No. 232-248, 250-259.

35 San Xavier Indian Reservation.
Portraits of identified Tohono O’odham men and women, No. 260-278.

36 San Xavier Indian Reservation, Tucson,Phoenix.
Portraits of identified individuals, class group of Tucson Indian Training school students, exterior and interior of Phoenix Indian Industrial School and student groups, No. 279-288, 290-299.

41 Bacoachi, Tiburon Island.
Expedition members, abandoned Seri camps (J. W. Mitchell, Photographer), No. 300-320.

42 Tiburon Island, Fresnal, Los Reales, Sasabe.
Tohono O’odham women making pottery, tortilla making, homes, Sasabe, Ariz. Custom house, Los Reales settlement near San Xavier (Dinwiddie), Seri artifacts (Mitchell), No. 321-333.

Series II: J.W. Mitchell, Photographer , 1895
This series is unnumbered and consists of landscapes and cacti.
43 Poso Noriego, Altar
44 Las Trincheras, Sonora
45 Hermosillo, Sonora
46 Thompson’s Ranch, Perez Ranch, Encinas Ranch
47 Tiburon Island
48 Rancho Costa Rica, Sonora