Speck's research on Virginia Indians began in 1914, with a visit to the Pamunkey Reservation, home to the woman pictured here, Captola Eulalia Cook (b. 1893), and her family.
Speck was particularly interested in those tribes, like the Pamunkey, that prior to 1607 had formed Tsenacomoco, a political alliance of Algonquian-speaking Indians ruled by the paramount chief Powhatan. In his travels around Virginia he found that many of these original tribes still existed on the land where their ancestors had lived. He even endeavored to count them: Pamunkey 300, Mattaponi 75, Upper Mattaponi 75, Chickahominy 400, Rappahannock 500, Nansemond 200, Wicomoco 300, Patawomeck 150, Powhatan 15, and Werowocomoco 100.