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Edwin Deming papers

Identifier: Ax 595

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of his correspondence, drawings, sketches, paintings, as well as anthropological and linguistic material, notes and other documentation of tribes he visited or lived with.

The correspondence series is comprised of incoming letters which are organized alphabetically by last name, and outgoing letters that are organized by date, 1884-1933. Deming corresponded with noted Western painters such as Charles Schreyvogel, William Henry Jackson and Frederic Remington. Other correspondents include Irvin S, Cobb, Gifford Pinchot and Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt. This series also contains Deming's Army correspondence, orders, and miscellaneous Army papers, 1916-1935.

Manuscripts, anthropological, and linguistic material are organized by title of item.

The personal papers series includes biographical material, awards, medals, and memberships.

Deming's trip to Colombia where he studied the BarĂ­ (collection may include use of Spanish terms Matalone or Motilones) is documented in diaries, letters with sketches, and linguistic notes. There are numerous sketches, sketchbooks, drawings and paintings which depict the Native American tribes Deming visited. There are also published versions of Native American stories, novels and children's books by Deming.

The artwork series includes student work, sketchbooks, and scrapbooks.

Other visual materials include a framed painting, photograph/sketch albums, print and autographic photographs.


  • circa 1860-1942


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time. Glass plate negatives and lantern slides are restricted due to the fragility of the format. All decisions regarding use will be at the discretion of the curator for visual materials.

Conditions Governing Use

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

Edwin Willard Deming (1860-1942) was born August 26, 1860 in Ashland, Ohio. At a young age he went to live in Geneseo, Illinois, an area which had formerly been a part of the Fox and Sac reservation. As a child Deming knew Indians of the Winnebago tribe and this early exposure shaped his later career. In 1883 Deming went to New York for a year of study at the Art Students League. In 1884, he went to Paris and studied at Julien's Academy under Boulenger and Le Febvre and took a course of lectures at the Beaux Arts.

After returning to America, Deming spent nearly two years painting cycloramas (curved theater backdrops). In 1887 Deming went to the Southwest and studied Yuma Apache and the Pueblos, and to Oregon where he concentrated on the Umatilla. Deming spent the summer of 1889 at Little Big Horn among the Crow. He then spent the autumn of 1889 and part of 1890 among the Sioux. He was present at Standing Rock when Sitting Bull was killed during the "Ghost Dance Outbreak."

Deming married Theresa Eva Katherine Osterheld in 1892. He and his wife spent a year of study in the southwest with the Zuni, Hopi, Apache and Navajo. In 1893 Deming went to Mexico and studied the native tribes there.

Deming spent the summer of 1898 among the Piegan and Blackfoot. In 1914, Deming returned to the same area with his family and they were all adopted into the Blackfoot tribe. In 1918 at the age of fifty-eight, Deming was commissioned as a Captain in the Army and served at Camp Benning, Georgia and the Springfield Armory. He was responsible for a major change in the Springfield '03 Army Rifle - adding a pistol grip to the stock. In 1920, Deming was a member of an expedition to Colombia, where he studied with the BarĂ­ (collection may include use of Spanish terms Matalone or Motilones). Deming died in 1942.


9 linear feet (9 containers, 2 volumes, 1 folder) : 1 record storage box, 1 half-legal manuscript box, 1 small flat box, 2 oversize flat boxes, and 1 oversize folder. Photo boxes: 2 small volumes, 4 small boxes.

1.3 Unprocessed linear feet (1 container) : 1 10" x 15.5" flat box

Language of Materials



Edwin Willard Deming (1860-1942) was an American sculptor, illustrator and writer who lived among Native American tribes when he was young and then dedicated his career to artistically recording and portraying them accurately and with dignity. The collection consists of his correspondence, drawings, sketches, and paintings, as well as anthropological and linguistic material, notes and other documentation of tribes he visited or lived with.


Collection is organized into the following series: Correspondence; Manuscripts; Anthropological and Linguistic Material; Biographical material; Diaries; Memorabilia; Scrapbooks; Sketches and Sketchbooks; Photographs and Albums; Pamphlets and Magazines; Oversize Drawings and Paintings.

Other Finding Aids

Paper finding aid with additional information is available in Special Collections and University Archives.

Processing Information

Collection processed by staff, 1970.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

This collection received a basic level of processing including minimal organization and rehousing.

Description information is drawn in part from information supplied with the collection and initial surveys of the contents. Folder titles are based on those created by the creators or previous custodians. Titles have not all been verified against the contents of the folders. In some cases, staff supplied folder titles during initial processing.

Guide to the Edwin Deming papers
Complete Description
University of Oregon Libraries, Archivists' Toolkit Project Team and Tanya Parlet.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.
Funding for production of this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA