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Collection Overview

Bonaparte, Roland, prince, 1858-1924
Collection Anthropologique du Prince Roland Bonaparte: American Indians
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
circa 1883
1 box and 1.7 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1


Consists of twenty ethnographic albumen prints of North American Indians, commissioned by Prince Roland Bonaparte and photographed by Alfred Ayotte, plus two additional photographs of Bonaparte.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of twenty ethnographic albumen prints of North American Indians, commissioned by Prince Roland Bonaparte and photographed by Alfred Ayotte, plus two additional photographs of Bonaparte. The twenty albumen prints are part of a rare portfolio of thirty-five photographs titled Peaux Rouge: Collection Anthropologique du Prince Roland Bonaparte. They are sitting studio portraits of ten Northern Plains American Indians, two portraits each, full-face and profile. Photographs measure about 22 x 16.8 cm. and are mounted on heavy cardboard, with the series statement written in black ink at the foot of each plate. They are numbered in ink at the top left corner of the mount, each pair having the same number. All twenty plates bear Bonaparte's blind stamp with a crowned eagle: "Collection du Prince Roland Bonaparte." The American Indians pictured are primarily from Omaha and the Northern Plains. Represented in the collection are, in this order, John Pilcher, Homme Connu, Inside Man, Bright Eye (Susette La Flesche (1854-1903)), Hard Chief, Chef Du Bande, Mnigh-Di-Tai (Plains woman), White Crow, Luune Dure, and Beautiful Hill and Village Maker (a Plains woman and an Omaha boy). There are two additional photographs of Bonaparte which are not part of the Peaux Rouge collection. One is a standing studio photograph with Bonaparte leaning on a chair, measuring 26.8 x 20.5 cm; the second is a group photograph on board an Italian ship, measuring 23.2 x 18 cm. Both photographs bear the blind stamp of "Etienne Carjat & Cie., Photographe."

Princeton University holdings are plates numbered 1, 4-7, 9, 12-14, and 16.

Collection Creator Biography:

Bonaparte, Roland, prince, 1858-1924

Prince Roland Bonaparte was a grand nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte. He had no royal aspirations; instead he turned to study science, geography, geology, botany, ethnology, and anthropology. He focused on the documentation of physical characteristics, in particular the shape and dimension of the skull as a way to established relations between the human races. He perceived photography as a scientific tool for preserving data from his expeditions, and used it to document the American Indians, Surinamese, Hottentots, and other ethnic groups. Bonaparte was president of the "Société de géographie" (France) from 1910 till his death, and was also a member, then president, of the "Académie des sciences" (France).

Alfred Ayotte was a French (?) journalist, photographer, and traveler who was interested in the anthropological aspects of the natives of the countries he visited.

Collection History


Purchased on March 28, 2007 .

Custodial History

Ink stamp of the "Collection of J. Nisberg" on the verso of all photographs.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

Folder inventory added by Nicholas Williams '2015 in 2012.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Collection Anthropologique du Prince Roland Bonaparte: American Indians; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1