This collection consists of nineteen cabinet card images depicting individuals from a number of Southern Plains Indian communities in the Oklahoma and Indian Territories between approximately 1888 and 1894.
Scope and Contents
The Thomas Croft cabinet cards collection consists of nineteen cabinet card images taken between approximately 1888 and 1894 near Arkansas City, Kansas, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Territory. The photos depict men, women, and children from a number of Southern Plains Indian communities living in the regions then known as the Oklahoma and Indian Territories. Communities depicted include Oklahoma Cherokee, Niuam (Comanche), Kiowa, Otoe, Chaticks Si Chaticks (Pawnee), Ponca, and Sac and Fox individuals and groups. These cabinet cards consist of studio portraits as well as less formalized photographs shot outside of the studio on Native reservations and at the nearby Chilocco Indian School.
Please note that the language and terminology used in this collection reflects the context and culture of the time of its creation, and may include culturally sensitive information. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution, but is available in its original form to facilitate research.
This collection is arranged into folders by cultural group.
Biographical / Historical
Thomas Croft was born in 1849 and lived in Illinois before moving further west. In the years soon after his 1885 arrival in Arkansas City, Kansas, Croft joined two already established photographers in the area, William Prettyman and George Cornish. Croft documented daily life in Arkansas City, but also frequently traveled to the then Oklahoma and Indian Territories to capture images of Native Americans living on nearby reservations. He maintained Elite Studio in Arkansas City, Kansas, and later another studio in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Territory. Croft continued to practice photography into the early years of the twentieth century until his death in 1909. In addition to his numerous photographs of Native Americans, Croft is also known for documenting the 1893 Land Run in Oklahoma, as well as for taking what is considered to be the first photographic image of a tornado, shot in May of 1896 in Oklahoma City.
This collection was donated by Joanne Reiter in 1995.
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Thomas Croft cabinet cards
Processed by Nathan Sowry, Reference Archivist, in 2020.
Thomas Croft's photographic work is extensive and resides in many cultural heritage repositories, including the Kansas City Public Library in Kansas City, Missouri, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives of the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma, and the DeGolyer Library at Southern Methodist University in Texas, among other locations.
Access to NMAI Archives Center collections is by appointment only, Monday - Friday, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm. Please contact the archives to make an appointment (phone: 301-238-1400, email: email@example.com).
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Thomas Croft cabinet cards, NMAI.AC.350; National Museum of the American Indian Archives Center, Smithsonian Institution.