Collection - George Arthur Plains Bison Collection

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George Arthur Plains Bison Collection

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    • ca. 1599-1992 (bulk 1960s-1980s) (Creation)

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    Physical description

    4.6 metres textual material 23 boxes

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    Name of creator

    Biographical history

    George W. Arthur is considered the foremost expert on the role of bison in Natives' and Plains ecology. He holds a Ph.D. in Archaeology (University of Calgary, 1974), and his previous degrees include an M.A. in Cultural Anthropology and Sociology (U of Montana, 1966) and B.S. in Secondary Education (Montana State U, 1960). In 1978, he became Head of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Regina, and until 1992, was Professor Emeritus of Anthropology. Published extensively, Arthur was also an avid collector of bison-related literature, and in 2002, Professor Arthur donated his extensive collection of bison books to the University of Alberta Library. Totaling approximately 2 000 items, the books range in subject matter from the history of bison, to travel logs where bison were sighted, to bison anatomy, to bibliographies of bison writings and research.

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    Scope and content

    The bulk of the collection consists of photocopied material pertaining to plains bison. There is also a substantial volume of offprints, newspaper clippings, published reports and pamphlets, all pertaining to various aspects of plains bison culture. A significant amount of ephemera from various conferences and organizations Arthur was involved in, as well as correspondence, research notes, and course materials are also contained in the collection.

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    Physical condition

    Immediate source of acquisition


    There were few indications of an original order; therefore, the collection has been artificially arranged into six series and seven subseries based on subject matter and format. Multiple copies of items have been weeded from the collection.

    Item list available for most files.

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        Location of originals

        The George Arthur Plains Bison Collection is housed at the University of Alberta Library's Research and Collections Resource Facility (RCRF). It is available to students, staff, and the general public for use at a supervised reading room at RCRF or Bruce Peel Special Collections. To request items from this collection please use the links in the catalogue record.

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        Arthur, through the Canadian Plains Research Center at the University of Regina, published "A Buffalo Round-up: A Selected Bibliography," in 1985. This publication provides a guide to literature available on the topics of both plains bison and wood bison up until 1985.

        Arthur's Doctoral thesis (1974) was published as a paper in the Mercury Series of the Archaeological Survey of Canada, Monograph #37. This thesis examines the ethno-historical reconstruction of the hunting activities of the northern Plains tribes (Blackfoot, Plains Cree, Gros Ventre, and Assiniboine) in relationship to the annual cycle of the bison in the plains prairie grassland.

        Arthur, George W. An archaeological survey of the Upper Yellowstone River Drainage, Montana. Bozeman: Dept. of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, Montana Agricultural Experiment Station, 1966.

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        Written by Stacey Sokolan, August 30, 2005. Updated November 8, 2023.

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