Students pursuing academic paths in American Indian and Indigenous Studies are encouraged to make use of our historic library collections, digital exhibits, alumni connections, and academic opportunities to support and pursue the expansion, understanding, research, and documentation of American Indian and Indigenous Studies in all academic fields. 

American Indian and Indigenous Studies - Collections and Libraries

The Huntington Free Library's Native American Collection was transferred to Cornell University on June 15, 2004 from its former home in the Bronx, New York. One of the largest collections of books and manuscripts of its kind, the Huntington collection contains outstanding materials documenting the history, culture, languages, and arts of the Indigenous peoples of both North and South America. Contemporary politics and human rights issues are also important components of the collection, which places Cornell in the top ranks for research in American Indian and Indigenous Studies in the nation. It contains more than 40,000 volumes and significant quantities of archival materials on the archaeology, ethnology, and history of Indigenous peoples of the Americans from the colonial period to the present.

"The collection provides enormously rich materials for teaching and research and will enable us to attract outstanding scholars from across the hemispheres," says Jane Mt. Pleasant (Tuscarora), the former Director of the AIISP. She adds, "Student opportunities to conduct original research with primary documents will be unprecedented.” For more information visit the Cornell Library Digital Collections website.

Caldwell Hall AIISP Library

The Caldwell Hall AIISP Library held in Caldwell Room 400 includes over 30 years of collected and donated texts on American Indian and Indigenous Studies. Books can be checked out by contacting aiisp [at] cornell.edu. We are still in the process of cataloging this collection. Stop by M-F 9:30-4:30pm to explore the existing collection. 

The Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections features significant original materials on the history of native peoples of the Western hemisphere. Thousands of rare books document Indian life-ways, and manuscript materials provide documentation of the work of anthropologists, collectors, and ethnologists. Manuscript holdings include a letter from Mohawk leader Joseph Brant, early 20th century correspondence from Seneca individuals at Cattaragus and Tonawanda to Joseph Keppler, a pictographic catechism in the Quechua language, field notes by 19th century ethnographers; and the papers of archaeological expeditions. Many of the larger manuscript collections have been microfilmed and are available for interlibrary loan.

To identify items in the collection, the majority of which are not yet digitized, you may explore the Cornell Library Catalog with author, title, or keyword search terms.

To schedule a research visit or ask a question, please contact us. Terms of access and research policies are described on the Division’s Registration & Guidelines for Use and Reproductions & Permissions pages.

Digital Collections, Exhibits, and Ongoing Projects on AIIS at Cornell

The Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections features significant original materials on the history of native peoples of the Western hemisphere. Thousands of rare books document Indian life-ways, and manuscript materials provide documentation of the work of anthropologists, collectors, and ethnologists. Manuscript holdings include a letter from Mohawk leader Joseph Brant, early 20th century correspondence from Seneca individuals at Cattaragus and Tonawanda to Joseph Keppler, a pictographic catechism in the Quechua language, field notes by 19th century ethnographers; and the papers of archaeological expeditions. Many of the larger manuscript collections have been microfilmed and are available for interlibrary loan.

To identify items in the collection, the majority of which are not yet digitized, you may explore the Cornell Library Catalog with author, title, or keyword search terms.

To schedule a research visit or ask a question, please contact us. Terms of access and research policies are described on the Division’s Registration & Guidelines for Use and Reproductions & Permissions pages.

This exhibition examines the histories, stories, and lived experiences of early Hodinǫ̱hsǫ́:nih (Haudenosaunee, formally referred to as Iroquois in previous literature) women at Cornell University. 

From 1914 to 1942, the New York State College of Agriculture and College of Home Economics received federal, state, and private funding to create extension programs and scholarships for Hodinǫ̱hsǫ́:nih women. This began with the dissemination of war-time food programs on the Onoñda’gegá’ Nation in 1916, which instructed Hodinǫ̱hsǫ́:nih women within the areas of food preservation and conservation. In 1919, Cornell’s Indian Extension Program brought Hodinǫ̱hsǫ́:nih youth to Ithaca, NY where they received an education in agriculture and home economics during Cornell’s winter session. Upon founding the New York State College of Home Economics in 1925, Martha Van Rensselaer and her co-director, Flora Rose, worked with the lineage organization known as, Daughters of the American Revolution, to create a scholarship program for Hodinǫ̱hsǫ́:nih women. From 1929 to 1942, the Olive Whitman Memorial Scholarship supported five Hodinǫ̱hsǫ́:nih women who enrolled in the College as full-time students.

CURATOR: Lynda May Xepoleas, Ph.D. '23

This site was initiated as part of the response of Cornell University’s American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program (AIISP) to a March 2020 High Country News investigative report by Robert Lee and Tristan Ahtone titled “Land-Grab Universities.” This report tied the history of those educational institutions founded through the Land Grant College Act of 1862 (also known as the Morrill Act) to the forceful dispossession of Indigenous peoples. Essentially, the original funding for these land-grant universities is derived from land taken through a systematic and genocidal campaign of violence, fraud, forced treaties (some never ratified), dislocation, and death. Cornell received the most land through the provisions of the Morrill Act, almost 1 million acres in total. With the exception of some retained mineral rights, the University sold all of its Morrill Act parcels by 1938. Cornell made substantially more money from the manipulation and sales of these lands (and the natural resources thereupon) than any other land-grant institution. Revenue from these lands formed the lion’s share of the University’s operating budget for the first thirty years of its existence, and an endowment formed from Morrill Act monies still generates funds for the university today.

Vanished Worlds, Enduring People highlights the great range and depth of Cornell’s Native American Collection, and the university’s commitment to dialogue and learning centered on native cultures. The exhibition features many of the collection’s finest books and manuscripts, as well as photographs, artwork, and related materials covering a period of more than four centuries. Included are published accounts of early encounters with native peoples, stunning illustrated books depicting native communities and leaders, documents that preserve the history of native languages, manuscripts that record the work of early anthropologists and those who fought for native rights, and materials that record the histories of tribal communities.

Exhibition Curator - Mary Dana Marks

On display in October 2005-June 2006

American Indian and Indigenous Graduate Studies & Opportunities

Graduate students have the opportunity to apply for fellowships, summer programs, research workshops, conferences, symposia, and courses through the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program (AIISP)’s prestigious membership in the Newberry Consortium in American Indian Studies (NCAIS).

The Newberry hosts events and contains remarkable library collections and resources in its D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian History, which provides opportunities for conducting cross disciplinary research. For more information about the opportunities that the Newberry is offering please visit the NCAIS website or aiisp [at] cornell.edu (contact us) if you are interested in applying.