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Frances Densmore: Life and Work
Frances Densmore's biography, photograph, & bibliography
Frances Densmore
Frances  Densmore
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Biography of Frances Densmore

Frances Theresa Densmore was born in 1867 in Red Wing, Minnesota and spent nearly 60 years working for the Smithsonian Institution’s Bureau of American Ethnology. She visited some 35 American Indian tribes, recorded more than 2,500 songs, collected hundreds of artifacts, and transcribed a wealth of first-person narrations. Densmore died in her hometown in 1957. Her work remains highly valued by scholars and by many members of the first nations she studied.

One of her studies has been abridged and illustrations added by editor Joseph A. Fitzgerald in the World Wisdom edition World of the Teton Sioux Indians: Their Music, Life, and Culture (September 2016), which includes a Foreword by Charles Trimble.

Here is a concise summary of her work from the website, which records information about “significant people, places, events, and things in Minnesota history”:
From the 1890s through the 1950s, Frances Densmore researched and recorded the music of American Indians. Through more than twenty books, 200 articles, and some 2,500 Graphophone recordings, she preserved important cultural traditions that might otherwise have been lost.
Following a long and distinguished career, and many years spent in the field traveling all over the United States, Frances Densmore donated her records to the National Archives and the Minnesota Historical Society. A few years before her death, the Minnesota Historical Society presented Densmore with its first “citation for distinguished service in the field of Minnesota History” in October 1954.

Books/DVDs containing the work of Frances Densmore

Frances Densmore’s contributions to World Wisdom books:

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