This is a non-comprehensive list of sources that may be useful in researching students and burials at Chemawa Indian School / Forest Grove Indian School. If you need help locating primary sources related to a specific student, please check the detailed spreadsheet, or contact email@example.com.
Books, Articles & Web Sites about the Schools (Secondary Sources)
Adams, David Wallace. 1995. Education for extinction: American Indians and the boarding school experience, 1875-1928. Lawrence, Kan: Univ. Press of Kansas, 1995. Catalog record. This is often considered the canonical work on the history of Native American boarding schools in the United States. It provides a broad historical overview of how they came to be, with a special focus on the creation of the first federal off-reservation boarding school, the Carlisle Indian School.
Bonnell, Sonciray. "Chemawa Indian Boarding School: The first one hundred years, 1880 to 1980." M.A. Thesis, Dartmouth College, 1997. Catalog Record. This thesis provides an overview of the history of Chemawa up through 1980.
Chemawa Indian School. "Chemawa History." Web page. Updated 2017. https://chemawa.bie.edu/history.htm | This brief history of the Forest Grove/Chemawa schools is hosted on the current Chemawa Indian School's web site.
Guggemos, Eva Rose. [History of the Forest Grove Indian School - book in progress.] Pacific University Press, publication date T.B.D. This book concentrates on the history of the Forest Grove Indian School from its founding through its move to Salem in 1885. It includes a chapter on deaths and illness among students. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
Karten, Ron. "Tribe aids Chemawa Cemetery project," Smoke Signals, Aug. 15, 2013, p. 7. Historic Oregon Newspapers database. https://oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/sn93050714/2013-08-15/ed-1/seq-7/ . This source describes the work of Marsha Small at the Chemawa Cemetery.
Lomawaima, K. Tsianina. "The Unnatural History of American Indian Education." In Next Steps: Research and Practice To Advance Indian Education. 1999. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED427903 . A book chapter written by a descendant of survivors of the boarding school system, with a critical examination of the tenets underlying the creation of the system.
Maxwell Taylor, Arthur. "Tradition to Acculturation: A Case Study on the Impacts Created by Chemawa Indian School upon the Nez Perce Family Structure from 1879 to 1945." Loyola University Chicago: 2010. http://ecommons.luc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1518&context=luc_theses . This thesis was written by a Native descendant of alumni from Chemawa school, focusing on the experience of Nez Perce children at the school.
McBride, Preston S. "A Lethal Education: Institutionalized Negligence, Epidemiology, and Death in Native American Boarding Schools, 1879-1934." PhD diss., UCLA, 2020. https://escholarship.org/uc/item/1bw51497 . This dissertation pulls together information about deaths and illnesses across the U.S. boarding school system before 1934.
Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition. Web site. https://boardingschoolhealing.org . This non-profit organization that is by and for survivors and descendants of Native American boarding schools provides a database of historical resources as well as information on how the legacy of boarding schools continues to affect Natives today.
Reddick, SuAnn M. "The Evolution of Chemawa Indian School: From Red River to Salem, 1825-1885." Oregon Historical Quarterly 101, no. 4 (2000): 444-465. www.jstor.org/stable/20615094 | Written by the former historian of Chemawa Indian School, this article provides a broad look at the connections between the Forest Grove Indian School and earlier efforts to convert and educate Natives.
Willamette Valley Genealogical Society. Beaver Briefs. Articles on Chemawa Cemetery, Vol. 25: 1-3 and Vol. 26: 1 (1993-1994). https://heritage.lib.pacificu.edu/s/deaths-chemawa/item/127084. These extracts from the WVGS journal include historical information about the Chemawa Cemetery, as well as citations for difficult-to-access primary sources related to the deaths and burials of students.
Original Documents, Newspapers, Government Reports, etc. about the Schools (Primary Sources)
Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Washington, DC: GPO, 1880-1932. In most years, this annual report contains a section authored by the school superintendent, describing activities at the school during the past year. For years 1880-1905 see: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/008696072 ; For years 1907 and later, see: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/011590890
Charles E. Larsen Chemawa Indian School Collection. Willamette University Archives and Special Collections, Salem, OR. Finding aid: https://libmedia.willamette.edu/archives/as/repositories/2/resources/105
Chemawa American / Weekly Chemawa American. Chemawa Indian School: 1890s-1980s. This was the school newspaper. See also the Indian Citizen, below. For issues dating 1901-1910, see: https://oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/ca15001324/ ; for issues dating 1914-1915 see: https://oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/2003238611/ . Other issues are not digitized and must be consulted in person.
Chemawa Cemetery Map. 1960. https://heritage.lib.pacificu.edu/s/deaths-chemawa/page/chemawa-cemetery . A copy and a corrected transcription of a plot map of the Chemawa Cemetery, which was made by the school in 1960.
Chemawa Indian School Records. Bureau of Indian Affairs, Record Group 75; National Archives and Records Administration (Seattle). Catalog Records
This collection includes the largest extant group of original records from the school, including portions of its administrative correspondence, financial records, medical records and more. The sources are fragmented however, with significant gaps. Most of these records are not yet digitized and must be consulted in person at the NARA branch in Seattle. Specific sections of this collection include:
- School Rosters: Digitized version (Free account required)
- "Sanitary Records"
- Financial Ledgers
- Correspondence logs
Death Certificates - Oregon. [Full citation needed.]
Find-A-Grave database: Chemawa Cemetery memorials. https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/38651/chemawa-cemetery . This database includes transcriptions and pictures of the current grave markers at the cemetery. (Note that the markers often have incorrect names or dates, however.)
Forest Grove Indian School Collections. Pacific University Archives, Forest Grove, Oregon. https://heritage.lib.pacificu.edu/s/indian-school/page/welcome The Pacific University Archives has identified about 125 documents and photographs related to the Forest Grove Indian School, spread through several archival collections. Nearly everything has been digitized and linked to the site above; see the Research page for more detail.
Newspaper Databases (free):
Historic Oregon Newspapers database. https://oregonnews.uoregon.edu/
Washington Digital Newspapers database. https://washingtondigitalnewspapers.org/
Chronicling America newspapers database. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ (Covers the entire U.S., but with less depth than the previous two databases.)
These databases contains issues from hundreds of regional newspapers, generally covering the years until the early 1920s. Newspapers often carried notices when a student at Chemawa had died or was returning home. Note, however, that two of the most important newspapers are NOT covered in these databases: see the Chemawa American and the Salem Statesman Journal.
Indian Citizen. Forest Grove Indian School: 1884-1885. This was the school newspaper in Forest Grove; see also the Chemawa American, above. Only a few issues survive in archival collections. For one example that has been digitized, see: https://heritage.lib.pacificu.edu/s/indian-school/item/119970
Office of Indian Affairs: Reports of Inspection of the field jurisdictions, 1873-1900, National Archives. Reproduced as Microform no. 1070, Reel no. 12. Digital version at FamilySearch.org . Inspectors from the Commissioner of Indian Affairs visited the Forest Grove Indian School and its successor, Chemawa Indian School, numerous times. These field reports describe conditions at the school as seen by the inspectors beginning in 1884.
Salem Statesman Journal Archives. 1851-2021. https://statesmanjournal.newspapers.com/ . This paid subscription site provides access to the largest daily paper in print near Chemawa. The newspaper often printed notices when students or staff at Chemawa died.
Southwest Oregon Research Project (SWORP) Collection, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon; copies also at Chachalu Museum, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. Finding aid. This collection includes copies of difficult-to-find correspondence between Indian Reservation Agents and Superintendents at the Forest Grove Indian School / Chemawa Indian School, as well as other correspondence originating from the reservations.
U.S. Census and Tribal Census Rolls. 1800s-1940. Census documents provide important clues about biographical details of students at Chemawa, such as approximate birth dates, place of origin before coming to school, family connections, and tribal affiliations. The Census can be searched from several different web sites. The most user-friendly site for searching across multiple Census years is Ancestry.com, but it requires a paid subscription. FamilySearch.org is free but less comprehensive and little less user-friendly.