The National Archives continues to digitize and make available online previously microfilmed collections. One of the most recent collections to go live, the Office of Indian Affairs Superintendents' Annual Narrative and Statistical Reports, is a rich resource for researching American Indian history.
Prepared and sent annually to the Office of Indian Affairs Commissioner by superintendents of various jurisdictions (which could be agencies, schools, hospitals, etc.), the files consist of two parts: a narrative report and a statistical report. These reports were filed separately but later consolidated for the microfilm publication, and are organized by jurisdiction and thereunder by year. The years covered vary - there are no statistical reports prior to 1920 because they were considered temporary up until then.
The narrative reports document the operation and accomplishments of each jurisdiction, broken up by topics such as health, industry, law and order, and land. Drawings, photographs, maps, and even news clippings can often be found. Overall, they provide a snapshot of reservation life for that particular year.
Excerpt from Klamath Agency’s 1920 narrative report noting the 1918 Flu Pandemic.
(Source here, image #279)
Excerpt from the Greenville Indian School’s 1919 report, showing a pie eating contest. (Source here, image #887)
The statistical reports are more standardized than the narrative reports, prepared on forms provided to the superintendents. As with any government agency, the forms become increasingly detailed and more statistics requested as the years progress. The information found in these includes general population, school enrollment, health, and agricultural statistics.
List of students showing their tribal affiliation from the 1920 Genoa Indian School statistical report. For off-reservation
boarding schools such as Genoa that closed in the 1920s, often no records directly from the school were saved, so these reports are
all that is left to detail the school’s operations. (Source here, image #117)
So if your research finds you examining the general conditions for a particular reservation, a hospital, or a non-reservation boarding school, feel free to dive in and browse - with 173 microfilm rolls of usually more than 1,000 pages each now digitized and online, there’s still a lot to be discovered!
The microfilmed reports were organized alphabetically by jurisdiction, thereunder by date. Each microfilm roll is now a file unit in our Catalog, so either search for jurisdiction or browse down through the list of results.