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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Thoreau Indian Notebooks Collection

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1850-1970
Creator: Sayre, Robert F.
Extent: 11.00 linear feet.
Collection Number: MSC0795
Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Summary: Photocopies of Thoreau notebooks held by the Pierpont Morgan Library; transcripts of the notebooks made in the 1930s. The collection was assembled by Robert F. Sayre in writing his book Thoreau and the American Indians (1977).

Access: This collection is open for research.

Use: Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Acquisition: These papers were given to the University of Iowa Libraries by Robert F. Sayre in 2005

Preferred Citation: Thoreau Indian Notebooks Collection, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Address: Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5921
Curator: Greg Prickman

In writing his book Thoreau and the American Indians (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977), Robert F. Sayre assembled a group of research materials that are worthy of preservation in their own right. The materials are of three kinds: (1) photocopies of the eleven original Thoreau notebooks held by the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York City, as M.A. numbers 596 through 606; (2) photocopies of typed and edited transcripts of each of the notebooks, most done as part of a 1930s project centered at Columbia University, New York City, principally supervised by Mary Dobbie, with some sections presented as thesis work to that institution; and (3) bibliographic and related notes generated by Sayre himself. Further information about the use to which these materials were put can be found in Thoreau and the American Indians (Main PS 3057.I5S2 1977), particularly in the introduction and postscript notes.
The photocopied notebooks are described here as Series I. They contain a record of Thoreau's systematic reading about Native Americans. Each opening appears on one sheet, and the sheets for each notebook have been placed in a binder. The binders are numbered 2 to 12. Notes in the collection indicate there was (and may still be) some confusion in the numbering: the eleven notebooks were with a twelfth notebook labeled"Canada &c." which turns out to be unrelated. It was originally numbered"1".
The second series is composed of the Columbia transcripts followed by Sayre's notecards.
Sayre, Robert F. Thoreau and the American Indians. Main Library PS3057 I5 S2 1977

Browse by Series:
Series 1: GENERAL

  • Series 1: GENERAL
  • Notebooks 2 to 12 - Photocopied on sheets about 11x16”
  • Box 1:
  • “Canada &c.” notebook
  • Notebook 2 
  • Notebooks 2 and 3 
  • Notebooks 4 and 5 
  • Notebook 6 
  • Notebook 7 
  • Notebook 8 - Edited by Marion A. Wells, MA thesis. - 1931
  • pages 1 -- 199
  • Box 2:
  • Notebook 8, cont.   
  • pages 200 -- 422
  • pages 423 -- 507 
  • Notebook 9
  • pages 1 -- 199
  • pages 200 -- 437 
  • Notebook 10
  • pages 1 -- 199
  • Box 3:
  • Notebook 10, cont.  
  • pages 200 -- 433
  • pages 434 -- 667 
  • Notebook 11
  • Notebook 12
  • pages 1 -- 199
  • pages 200 -- 352 
  • Sub-Series: Bibliography Notes
  • Box 4:
  • Procedures for bibliography of HDT’s “Indian Book”
  • Bibliography 
  • Bibliographic notes on 5x8” slips 
  • Miscellaneous bibliographic notes 
  • Bibliographic notes on 4x6” cards
  • A -- K
  • L -- Z

This collection is indexed under the following subject terms.

Personal Names:
Sayre, Robert F.
Thoreau, Henry David, 1817-1862

Indians of North America

Genre/Form of Materials:

Thoreau and the American Indians