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Ely Samuel Parker Scrapbooks

Identifier: Ayer-Modern-MS-Parker

Scope and Content of the Collection

Twelve scrapbooks, presumably kept by Ely Samuel Parker, containing newspaper clippings and illustrations dating primarily from 1870-1894, regarding Indian Affairs. The clippings are from various and numerous newspapers across the United States. They deal primarily with Indian massacres, war and fraud with Bureau commissioners. There are a few volumes that deal with Indian archeology, relics, legends, folklore, customs, and education. The illustrations are typically portraits of Indian chiefs, generals, Indian office commissioners, war scenes, battlefield maps, dances, and dwellings. Many Indian tribes are referred to, including but not limited to the Sioux, Navajo, Osage, Apache, Cherokee, Pima, Pueblo, Creeks, Seminole, Comanche, Aztec, Choctaw, Temecula, Ponca, Cheyenne, Onondaga, Narragansett, Mashpee, Ute, and Zuni. There are also three letters addressed to Ely Samuel Parker from Samuel M. Janney, John A. Burbank and J. A. Campbell, superintendents of Indian Affairs in 1870 from the Nebraska Territory, the Dakota Territory and the Wyoming Territory, respectively. There are also a few reproductions of photographs in the clippings, including a statue of Hiawatha, British Columbia Indians at the World's Fair, a Pueblo Indian's foot race and the San Geronimo Day celebration. Many volumes contain indexes.


  • Creation: 1828-1894
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1870 - 1894



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Ely Samuel Parker Scrapbooks are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Ely Samuel Parker Scrapbooks are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography of Ely Samuel Parker

A Seneca Indian, Ely Samuel Parker was born in 1825 in Genesee County, New York and was named Ha-sa-no-an-da (which means Leading Name). The second child of William and Elizabeth Parker, he was also bequeathed an English name, Ely Samuel Parker. It was prophesied that he would be a peacemaker and great among his Indian people, as well as the white man.

As a young boy, Ely was a representative and advocate for the Tonawanda Senecas. In 1842, he was sent to Washington, D.C. to fight the fraudulent treaties in which the Senecas lost all of their land in western New York. He remained active until 1857 when part of the land was bought back by the Senecas. Parker became chief of the wolf clan of the Seneca at Tonawanda in 1851. He was given the name Donehogswa (which means Open Door), which was the name of John Blacksmith who held the position before him.

Parker was educated at Elder Stone's Baptist School, Yates Academy and Cayuga Academy. He mastered the English language and was known for his oratorical and debate abilities. Interested in law, but ineligible to take the bar because he was not a white American citizen, Parker turned to civil engineering. He held positions for projects in New York as well as with the Federal government from 1849 to 1855. He was the superintendent of the lighthouse construction on the upper Great Lakes and in 1857 was superintendent of construction of a customhouse and marine hospital in Galena, Illinois.

Parker's military career began in the militia prior to the Civil War. In 1863, he joined the U.S. Army and was captain of engineers until the following year when he served as Grant's personal military secretary. Parker is known for his role in drafting the terms of surrender that ended the Civil War.

In 1867, Parker married Minnie Orton Sackett, a white socialite from Washington D.C. Their only daughter, Maud Theresa Parker, was born in 1878.

After the war, Parker remained as a member of Grant's staff until 1869 when President Grant appointed him Commissioner of the Office of Indian Affairs. In attempting to clean out corruption within the agency, Parker created powerful enemies. One, William Welsh, caused Parker's downfall. Parker was charged with fraud and blamed for the corruption within the agency. Although the House of Representatives exonerated him of any wrongdoing, Parker resigned from his position several months later in 1871.

Parker's accomplishments as commissioner were significant and include a peace policy with the Indians known as "Grant's Peace Policy," no Indian wars during his two years in office, and a temporarily corruption-free office.

Following his government service, Parker made a fortune in stocks, but lost it in the market woes of 1873-1875. In 1876, he took a clerk's job in the New York police department, which he held until his death. Parker died on August 30, 1895 and was buried with full military honors at Oak Lawn Cemetery in Fairfield, Connecticut. In 1897, he was re-interred next to the remains of Red Jacket, his ancestor at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York, a resting place closer to the Tonawanda Reservation.


3 Linear Feet (12 volumes)


Twelve scrapbooks, containing newspaper clippings and illustrations regarding Indian affairs, presumably kept by Ely Samuel Parker, who was U.S. Commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1869-1871. Also contains a few letters and reproductions of photos in the clippings.


The twelve scrapbooks are organized chronologically by the first year of their predominant (bulk) dates and are assigned volume numbers arbitrarily based on that date. This was felt necessary as some books were numbered on their spines, but had conflicting volume numbers on their indexes.


3a 56 1


Edward E. Ayer, 1911.

Processed by

Joan Sweeney, 2001.

Inventory of the Ely Samuel Parker Scrapbooks, 1828-1894,bulk 1870-1894
Joan Sweeney
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States