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H. S. Halbert Letter

Identifier: MS-2291

  • Staff Only

In a September 24, 1881, letter to Mr. Berlie, H. S. Halbert writes about his ethnographic and archaeological finds amongst the Choctaw Indians in Crawford, MS. Halbert tells of attending one of their ball plays, describing it as "the great game of the red man." He also talks of difficulties he faced upon first arrival, and the ways in which he has obtained the trust of the Choctaw people.

Expressing disappointment in his difficulty locating antiquities, Halbert discourages Mr. Berlie from traveling to Mississippi to perform an archaeological dig in the area. He talks of his interest in the Nanih' Waia Mound, but states that he knows that "there is not sufficient archaeological interest to justify you in coming all the way from Pennsylvania."

Halbert also tells of a manuscript he is writing from the information he has gathered. He informs Mr. Berlie that research for the manuscript will continue next summer when he returns to Mississippi.


  • 1881 September 24

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0.1 Linear Feet


In a September 24, 1881, letter to Mr. Berlie in Pennsylvania, historian H. S. Halbert writes about his ethnographic and archaeological work among the Choctaw Indians in Neshoba County, MS. He speaks of attending a ball play, overcoming the suspiciousness of the chief and members of the tribe, and finding difficulties in locating antiquities.

Biographical/Historical Note

Henry Sale Halbert (1837-1916) was born in Pickens County, Ala., on January 14, 1837, and grew up in Lowndes County, Mississippi. After receiving an MA degree from Union University (Tenn.) in 1857, Halbert served as a soldier with the Texas state troops, guarding the frontier. With the dawn of the Civil War, he enlisted as a private in the Confederate Army, fighting with the 6th Texas Cavalry. After seeing combat at Corinth and Hatchie Bridge, the 6th Texas Cavalry served with the Army of Tennessee during the Atlanta Campaign. Halbert was severely wounded at New Hope, Georgia., on May 16, 1864, and returned to duty just before the war's conclusion.

After the Civil War, Halbert taught at Waco University (now Baylor) from 1866 until 1872, and at other institutions throughout Texas, Alabama, and Mississippi from 1872 until 1884. From 1884 until 1899, Halbert performed educational work among the Choctaw Indians of Mississippi, learning about their traditions and customs. Using this knowledge, Halbert became one of the nation's leading authorities on the Choctaws, publishing articles for publications such as American Antiquarian and The American Anthropologist. He also co-edited a dictionary of the Choctaw language and co-wrote The Creek War of 1813 and 1815 with T. H. Ball (Chicago: Donohue & Henneberry, 1895; Special Collections Call Number E83.813 .H15).


Collection consists of a single folder.

Acquisition Note

The Special Collections Library purchased this collection in June of 2000.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA