National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Born Marcellus, New York
An anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institution, Erminnie Smith did pioneering research on American Indians. She studied mineralogy in Germany and branched out into ethnohistory, concentrating on the Iroquois. Observing and recording Iroquois rituals, she compiled a dictionary of their language and also published Myths of the Iroquois (1883).
This bas-relief by nineteenth-century portrait sculptor William Rudolf O’Donovan was illustrated as the frontispiece of Echoes of the Aesthetic Society of Jersey City (1882), a compilation of literary and scientific texts that the Daughters of the Aesthetic Society of New Jersey published in honor of Smith, their founder.