Dorothy Sloan -- Books

Copyright 2000- by Dorothy Sloan-Rare Books Inc. for all materials on this site. All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.



The First Real History of the Natives of Michigan Published in Europe

By the Pioneer Linguist of Chippewa & Ottawa

Click images or links labeled Enlarge to enlarge. Links labeled Zoom open zoomable images.

37. BARAGA, F[rédéric]. Abrégé de l’histoire des Indiens de l’Amérique septentrionale, par F. Baraga. Missionaire au lac Supérieur. Traduit de l’allemand [half title verso] Paris.—Imprimerie de E.J. Bailly, Place Sorbonne, 2. Paris: A La Société des bons livres, Rue des Saintes-Pères, 1837. [4], [1] 2-296 pp. 8vo (19 x 10.7 cm), original yellow printed wrappers, title and text on lower wrapper within ornamental borders; lower wrap with “Extrait des statuts de la Société des bons livres.” Other than one tiny snag on upper wrapper (no loss) and minor scattered foxing, an exceptionally fine, unsophisticated copy, unopened. Bound with waste sheets from a publication written in a Native American language.

     First French edition. The work was first published in German at Laibach in 1837 and also in Slovenian (neither of those editions cited by standard sources). A second edition in French came out in 1845, by the same publisher. Field 74* (citing the second edition in French). Howes B111. Sabin 3246. Siebert Sale 393 (lesser copy fetched $6,900).

     Roman Catholic priest, bishop, missionary, and linguist Frederic Baraga (aka Irenaeus Fridericus, Irenej Friderik, Friedrich) was born in Yugoslavia at the castle of Malavas in 1797. Because of the Napoleonic Wars and the resulting cultural waves that swept over his childhood home, he grew up knowing several languages. Originally intending to become a lawyer, he switched instead to the Catholic priesthood, eventually coming to Michigan as a missionary. Once there, he was an indefatigable shepherd to his wide-flung flocks, which included not only the native Chippewas and Ottawas, but also various European emigrants who came to the area in search of work. He was eventually elevated to be Bishop of Cincinnati, the first person to hold that position. He died in 1868. Because of his work in Chippewa and Ottawa linguistics, he is still a major figure in that area. The present work was recently translated into English by Graham A. MacDonald for the first time and published in 2004.

     This work, published to raise funds for his Michigan missions, is the first real history of the area’s Native American population published in Europe and is considered authoritative. He treats such matters as dress, food ways, hunting, fishing, religion, warfare, diseases, and funerary practices. Baraga is quite sympathetic to his subjects because of his philosophical and intellectual appreciation of society in general, although he does to a certain extent reflect the prejudices of his time. The work is significant as an anti-Jacksonian essay, written against the background of the president’s forced removals of Native Americans from their ancestral lands.

     For more on Baraga, see Dictionary of Canadian Biography 1861-1870, Vol. IX, and Catholic Encyclopedia, where Baraga’s biographer concludes: “That life might be summed up in he one phrase: ‘saintliness in action.’”


Auction 22 Abstracts

Click images or links labeled Enlarge to enlarge. Links labeled Zoom open zoomable images.


DSRB Home | e-mail: