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Collections - MF 079 Molly Spotted Elk Collection

Description: Molly Spotted Elk (b. 1903) was the stage name of a Penobscot Indian woman from Maine who entered the world of vaudeville and entertainment at a young age. In the late 1920s she starred in a motion picture, “The Silent Enemy” filmed in northern Canada. She became a dancer on the Paris stage and married a French journalist, but was forced to flee the country during the German occupation in World War II. The collection was donated in 1979 and 1999 by Jean Moore. The materials are currently housed in seven archival document cases occupying roughly 3 linear feet. A preliminary inventory folder listing is available, but the collection is otherwise unprocessed. This collection consists of two accessions.

1116 includes photocopies of some of Molly Spotted Elk’s writings, including a draft of a book entitled “Katahdin: Wigwam’s Tales of the Abnaki Tribes” (15 stories – 236 pp.); a story, “Plump-Plump” (45 pp.); a play, “The Captive”; an informant’s history about Santu; sheet music; Indian words for part of the body; short stories. The originals of these materials are part of NA 2573.

2573 consists of papers belonging to or relating the life and career of Molly Spotted Elk and her family. They document her accomplishments as a professional dancer and also as a writer and chronicler of traditional Penobscot tales and legends. Papers include correspondence, legal documents, handbills and flyers relating to her stage career and especially the the movie “The Silent Enemy,” handwritten notes and music, newsletters relating to Penobscot and Abenaki affairs and Indian Island, Maine, a small scrapbook relating to the Penobscot Indian [Brass] Band, and extensive unpublished drafts and typescripts of Indian legends. There are also diaries of Molly Spotted Elk (ca. 1923-1959?) which detail her daily life during the 1920s-1940s. One folder contains material relating to the published biography of Molly Spotted Elk by author Bunny McBride, published by University of Oklahoma Press in 1995.

See also:
1115 Brooks, Joan. Summer 1977. Maine: Indian Island (Old Town). 8 pp. Tape: 1/2 hr. w/ brief cat. Interview with Jean Moore about the life of her mother, Molly Spotted Elk, who was a dancer, writer, and actress. T1161

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