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RG4002.AM:  Barclay White, 1821-1906

Journals:  ca.1904

Mount Holly, New Jersey and Omaha, Nebraska:  Superintendent, Northern Superintendency of Indian Affairs, 1871-1876; Secretary, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends

Size:  3 volumes on 1 reel of microfilm


Barclay White, the son of Joseph White and Rebecca Smith White, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in April 1821.  His early education was received in various boarding schools operated by the Society of Friends (Quakers).  In the spring of 1835, White became a hardware clerk but soon returned to school.  He left school for good in 1838 and began managing a farm for his uncle Jonathan Smith.  White purchases his own farm in New Jersey in 1842, the same year that he married Rebecca Lamb.  The couple had four children before Rebecca Lamb’s death in 1850.  White was married again in 1852 to a cousin, Beulah Shreve and they continued farming in New Jersey.

Having been raised as a Quaker, White became active in the Indian Committee of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends.  The Quakers had been in the forefront of movements to reform government Indian policies which led, in 1869, to the implementation of the so-called “Quaker Policy.”  By act of Congress, and with the support of President U.S. Grant, administration of the Indian reservation and agency system was transferred from the military authorities to the jurisdiction of various religious organizations.  The Northern Superintendency of Nebraska was placed in charge of Hicksite Quakers and included the Otoe, Winnebago, Pawnee, Sac and Fox, Great Nemaha, Santee Sioux, and Omaha Agencies.  When a vacancy occurred as superintendent of the Northern Superintendency in 1871, Barclay White was appointed to the post.  His duties involved the distribution of annuities, supervision of the various agents, and the conduct of ongoing relations between the government and the tribes.

White served as head of the Northern Superintendency until July 1, 1876, when the office at Omaha was closed.  However, he continued to hold a position as “Friends Special Indian Agent” for a time, visiting the various agencies and assisting in matters involving the sale of reservation lands and relocation of tribes to the Indian Territory.  In 1878, White opened an insurance and real estate office in Mt. Holly, New Jersey, but he continued writing and lecturing on Indian affairs.  He also served as secretary to the Indian Committee of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends until ill health forced his resignation in 1882.  Barclay White died at Mount Holly Township, New Jersey, on November 23, 1906.  He is buried at Arney’s Mount Friends Meetinghouse and Burial Ground, Springfield Township.


Microfilm of the Barclay White journals was purchased from the Friends Historical Library, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, in 1980.  No publication may be made from these journals without the permission of the director of the Friends Historical Library.

This collection consists of three volumes of autobiographical journals of Barclay White, contained on one reel of microfilm.  These journals, written by White about 1904, relate to his life and career from his birth in 1821; his service as Superintendent of the Northern Superintendency of Indian Affairs, 1871-1876; and to his later writing about the status of the Indian.  Much of the material dealing with day-to-day events would appear to have been recopied from journal or diary entries made at the time.  Copies of official letters or documents dealing with the administration of Indian Committee of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends, Photographs of Indians, Indian agency buildings, and White family scenes are included in the journals.  An index may be found at the beginning each volume.

Volume 1 of the Journals contains a detailed genealogy of the White family, including copies of wills and other documents.  It also contains the narrative of Barclay White’s childhood years and activities leading up to his appointment as Quaker Indian Superintendent in 1871.  The remainder of Volume 1 provides a detailed record of his administration of the Northern Superintendency which included seven Nebraska Indian agencies.  Visits to the agencies, distribution of annuity goods, councils with the tribes, and significant events are described.  Of interest is White’s account of the Massacre Canyon battle between the Sioux and Pawnee in 1873, and a visit to the Red Cloud Indian Agency near Ft. Laramie the same year.

Volume 2 of the White journals continues the narrative of events involving the administration of the Northern Superintendency.  Documents and reports regarding the killing of Indian “Whistler,” “Ft Bader,” and “Smeller”; trips to the Indian Territory in preparation for Pawnee removal; and the closing of the Omaha office of the Northern Superintendency are of interest.

Volume 3 includes additional documents submitted by White as “Friends’ Special Indian Agent,” 1878, and copies of speeches and writings about Indian affairs including a “Summary of the Status of the Tribes, 1868-1904.”


Reel 1 – Journals of Barclay White, ca. 1904 (volumes 1-3)


Subject headings:

Cody, William Frederick, 1846-1917

Indian agents and agencies — Nebraska

Indians of North America — Education

Indians of North America — Government relations

Indians of North America — Lands

Indians of North America — Reservations

Petalesharo, 1797?-1858?

Religious Society of Friends

Sky Chief (Pawnee)

United States. Office of Indian Affairs. Great Nemaha Agency

United States. Office of Indian Affairs. Omaha Agency

United States. Office of Indian Affairs. Otoe Agency

United States. Office of Indian Affairs. Pawnee Agency

United States. Office of Indian Affairs. Red Cloud Agency

United States. Office of Indian Affairs. Sac and Fox Agency

United States. Office of Indian Affairs. Santee Sioux Agency

United States. Office of Indian Affairs. Winnebago Agency

White family

White, Barclay, 1821-1906


JEP/psw               07-19-1980

Revised TMM      05-06-2019