Throughout her adult professional life Alice Fletcher maintained a daily diary (1881, 1885, and 1887-1922). She wrote brief entries in small commercial pocket diaries (usually about 3.5 by 5.5 inches), probably to remind herself of details she needed to note in longer documents, whether those were reports to her employers in Washington, D. C., anthropological studies, or personal letters.
The diaries are currently held in Fletcher’s papers in the National Anthropological Archives in the Suitland facility in Washington, D. C. (Series 9). Scholars seem rarely to have consulted them, probably because they are dauntingly difficult to read. The books are small, the entries are often made in smudged pencil, and Fletcher’s handwriting is notoriously hard to decode. Nor was she a gifted speller.
As I researched and drafted my book, The Allotment Plot, I found these diaries to be an invaluable source. Here Fletcher noted–however briefly–names, incidents, and details that she often did not mention elsewhere.
Posted here you will find my transcriptions of the entries covering the months during those years when she was in Idaho attending to the allotment of lands to the Nez Perces. I hope to post transcriptions on a weekly basis, accompanied by an informal blog containing my observations based on their content, comments and interpretation suggested by my other readings and research related to allotment. My aim is to share minor but valuable information with other researchers and those interested in allotment, particularly with those whose subsequent lives have been touched by the work Fletcher did on the Nez Perce Reservation between 1889 and 1892.
I will appreciate responses to what I write here, particularly those that will add to, correct, and be in conversation with what Fletcher wrote and with my comments.
I am greatly indebted to Caroline Carley, another scholar interested in Fletcher, who loaned me copies she had made of the diaries covering the allotment period and whose initial transcriptions guided my own.
In the future, I hope to add transcriptions from other dates.
A NOTE ON METHODOLOGY: I have tried to maintain a sense of Fletcher’s line breaks and the spacing of entries, insofar as that is possible. I use square brackets to note clarifications, omissions, approximations of words (followed by a ?), and illegible entries. I have maintained Fletcher’s spelling and capitalization.
When possible, I’ve provided links to brief biographical sketches identifying the people Fletcher named in the diaries. I will especially welcome any insights, corrections, or comments about these identifiers.