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E. Jane Gay papers

Identifier: MS 0674
These papers contain original, typescript, and copies of letters written by E. Jane Gay during her residence on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation in Idaho, 1889-1892. Also included are notes and marginal notes. The recipients of the correspondence are not specifically identified but research indicates the original letters were sent to family and friends in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. The collection represents the working copy of a manuscript entitled "Choup-nit-ki."


  • 1889 - 1892



0.5 Cubic Feet (1 document box.)

Biographical Note

E. Jane Gay was born in Nashua, New Hampshire in 1830. She was a teacher, a nurse during the Civil War, and a clerk at the dead letter office of the U.S. Post Office. In the 1880s she met Alice Fletcher at a lecture in New York.

Alice Fletcher, an anthropologist, was appointed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to allot the lands of the Nez Perce Indians under provisions of the Dawes bill. Gay accompanied Fletcher to Idaho in an unofficial capacity as cook and amateur photographer. They remained in Idaho from 1899 to 1892. When Gay returned to Washington D.C., she prepared a manuscript of letters and photographs she called "Choup-nit-ki, With the Nez Perces."

An edited version of "Choup-nit-ki" was published in 1981 by the University of Nebraska Press as "With the Nez Perces: Alice Fletcher in the Field, 1889-1892" edited by Joan Mark and Frederick Hoxie. Gay died in England in 1919.

Related Materials

A collection of glass plate negatives taken by Gay in Idaho and used to illustrate the manuscript are located in the photograph collections of the Idaho State Historical Society Library and Archives. A microfilm copy of the completed manuscript is also available. (The original copy of the completed manuscript is held by the Schlesinger Library, Radcliff College.).

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts Repository

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