William Boone Douglass papers, 1809-1948

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Douglass, William Boone, 1864-1947
William Boone Douglass (1864-1947) was a white lawyer, engineer, and surveyor from Corydon (Harrison Co.), Indiana who was known for his survey work in the southwest United States. Collection includes correspondence, genealogical material, maps, photographs, notebooks on the Pueblo Indians, and other papers of Douglass and of various members of the Boone and Douglass families.
8.75 Linear Feet
Materials in English.
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

Collection includes a biographical sketch of Douglass, correspondence of the Boone and Douglass families, genealogical information and research, financial and legal documents, material related to Douglass' survey work and national parks, printed and visual material, and writings.

Correspondence pertains to family matters, the Kansas-Nebraska question, the passing of the first overland mail from California through Cassville, Missouri in 1858, elections to be held in Indiana in 1860, Douglass' surveying activities, establishment of a National Park of the Cliff Cities of New Mexico, the securing of power from Boulder Dam, and other matters. There are several Civil War letters from both Union and Confederate soldiers. There is a large amount of correspondence for Douglass' parents, Benjamin P. Douglass and Victoria Boone, as well as for his son, William Boone Douglass, Jr.

The financial and legal documents include receipts, account books, deeds, a court docket from an unidentified court, and patent case files and diagrams. Also of note is an 1814 deed of emancipation for Sally and Champion, two formerly enslaved people, who were emancipated by William Vincett in Harrison County, Indiana.

Booklets, brochures, and publications cover a wide range of topics and locations, including traveling in Santa Fe, N.M., the Transylvania Company and the founding of Henderson, K.Y., and the history of U.S. coinage laws.

Material related to Douglass' survey work consists of notes, writings, and drawings about the different sites that he surveyed, particularly those in present-day Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico, as well as maps and plats. Douglass' published "Notes on the Shrines of the Tewa and Other Pueblo Indians of New Mexico" (1917) is included in the writings. Also included are many photographs of Utah, New Mexico, and the Southwest. These photographs show natural formations, the surveyors, and also Pueblo peoples and customs, including Santiago Naranjo, Francisco Naranjo, and the Pueblo peoples' traditional Buffalo Dance. The Notebook on Pueblo Indians, Vol. I, contains descriptions of Douglass' visit to the San Ildefonso Pueblo and his observations of dwellings, meals, symbols, and rituals, with particular attention paid to the Scalp Dance. Vol. II contains notes on the Tewa language, cardinal colors and locations, clans, culture, and history, as well as Douglass' notes on other publications that address the Tewa language and Pueblo peoples. Douglass' survey work prompted him to advocate for the establishment of a "National Park of the Cliff Cities of New Mexico"--material related to this effort, including proposed legislation and maps, is in the collection.

Correspondence, clippings, and the material related to Douglass' survey work make mention of the indigenous groups and individuals he encountered, including the Paiute, Navajo, and Pueblo peoples and Jim Mike, Santiago Naranjo, and Francisco Naranjo. Most of the material about Jim Mike addresses his role in leading Douglass to the natural bridges in Utah, including what is now known as Rainbow Bridge National Monument.

Biographical / historical:

William Boone Douglass was a white lawyer, engineer, and surveyor from Corydon (Harrison Co.), Indiana. He was born in Corydon on June 30, 1864, to Benjamin P. and Victoria Boone Douglass. Douglass graduated from Corydon High School in 1882, after which he worked in the law office of his father and S. M. Stockslager. In 1886 he began attending Georgetown University School of Law, from which he graduated in 1888. In 1889 he married Allie Luckett in Indiana, and they went on to have four children: Marguerite, Dorothy, Maude, and William Jr. In 1904 Douglass was appointed as an examiner of surveys in the General Land Office, and from 1908 to 1912 he surveyed and named three natural bridges situated on land in Utah, Colorado, and Arizona belonging to the Paiute and Navajo peoples. Jim Mike, a Paiute man, showed Douglass the locations of these natural bridges. Douglass began surveying Pueblo lands and shrines in New Mexico in 1910, and as a result of this survey work he advocated for the creation of a National Park of Cliff Cities. Douglass also advocated for the establishment of other national parks and reservations in the Southwest. In the 1930s Douglass worked as a patent attorney in Washington, D.C. He also served as president of the Boone Family Association and the American Order of Pioneers. Douglass passed away in South Carolina on July 7, 1947.

Jim Mike, a Paiute man, was born on May 3, 1872, in Utah. Collection material frequently refers to him as "Mike's Boy" and "Jim," while U.S. Census records indicate that his native name was "Cowboy." Jim Mike showed William Boone Douglass the locations of the three natural bridges that Douglass investigated and named. Jim Mike married and had at least two children, Apwea (Harry) Mike and Pe-upp (Margaret) Mike. Jim passed away in Utah on September 28, 1977.

Santiago Naranjo, a Santa Clara Pueblo man, was born in the Santa Clara Pueblo of New Mexico in the 1850s (recorded dates vary from 1854 to 1862). He married Filomena Baca around 1884, and they had at least five children together. Santiago Naranjo served as governor of the Santa Clara Pueblo from at least 1911, possibly until 1929 or later. It is unclear if this term was continuous or interrupted. Santiago Naranjo likely passed away in the mid- to late-1940s (newspaper records indicate he was still living in 1944).

Francisco Naranjo, a Santa Clara Pueblo man, was born in the Santa Clara Pueblo of New Mexico in the 1840s (recorded dates vary from 1838 to 1848). He married Maria Catarina Tafoya (sometimes seen in records as Catalina), and they had at least four children together. Naranjo became a leader in the Santa Clara Pueblo, serving as governor at some point prior to 1911 and specifically leading the Winter people in the Pueblo. Naranjo also founded and led a federation with representation from all of the Pueblos in New Mexico to advocate for their interests. Naranjo was considered a progressive by his peers, and he was particularly invested in decreasing liquor distribution in Pueblos. Francisco Naranjo passed away on October 10, 1920.

Paiute is a term that refers to three different groups of indigenous peoples: Northern Paiute, Southern Paiute, and Mono. Due to their location in Utah, it is most likely that collection material referring to "Paiute" is referencing Southern Paiute people. Southern Paiute homeland includes present-day southern Nevada, northern Arizona, and central and southern Utah. The Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah received federal recognition in 1980 and comprises five tribal bands: Cedar Band ([Suh'dutsing] Cedar People); Indian Peaks Band ([Kwee'choovunt] Peak People); Kanosh Band ([Kawnaw'os] willow jug); Koosharem; ([Paw goosawd'uhmpuhtseng] Water Clover People); Shivwits ([See'veets eng] Whitish Earth People).

Traditional Navajo homeland, Dinétah, includes present-day southeastern Utah, southwestern Colorado, northwestern New Mexico, and northeastern Arizona. The Navajo Nation was officially recognized by the U.S. federal government in 1868. Today Navajoland, Diné Bikéyah, is situated in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico.

Pueblo homeland includes present-day New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado, but today most Pueblo people live in New Mexico. There are nineteen Pueblo tribes in New Mexico: Acoma, Cochiti, Isleta, Jemez, Laguna, Nambé, Ohkay Owingeh, Picuris, Pojoaque, Sandia, San Felipe, San Ildefonso, Santa Ana, Santa Clara, Santo Domingo, Taos, Tesuque, Zia, and Zuni. Each Pueblo is a sovereign nation. Of these Pueblos, six are considered to be Tewa peoples, a grouping of Pueblo peoples who speak the Tewa language. The six Tewa-speaking Pueblos are: Nambé, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso, Ohkay Owingeh, Santa Clara Pueblo, and Tesuque.

Sources: Wikipedia; Ancestry; "Francisco Naranjo, the 'Grand Old Man' of the Pueblo Indians," American Issue, 1911; Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah; Navajo Nation Government; Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. All sources accessed June 17-23, 2022.

Acquisition information:
The William Boone Douglass papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library in 1951.
Processing information:

Processed by Rubenstein Staff.

Accessions described in this collection guide are from 1951.

Reprocessed by Leah Tams, June 2022.


Material is arranged in the following general order: correspondence, genealogical and personal material, financial and legal material (including patents), material related to Douglass' survey work and national parks, other printed and visual material, and writings.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], William Boone Douglass Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.