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Special Collections and University Archives

George Catlin, ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE MANNERS, CUSTOMS AND CONDITION OF THE NORTH AMERICAN INDIANS
London: Henry Bohn, 1850

First published in 1841, ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE MANNERS, CUSTOMS, AND CONDITION OF THE NORTH AMERICAN INDIANS is George Catlin’s best-known work documenting the life and customs of numerous Indian tribes. Catlin’s illustrations and notes on Indian life provide an incomparable record of what was even in 1841 a rapidly vanishing culture.

Fascinated from boyhood with Indian life and lore, Catlin began his journeys among Indians in 1830 when he accompanied General William Clark up the Mississippi into Indian territory. He eventually visited sixty-eight tribes, sketching and taking notes on all aspects of Indian life and culture. Catlin ultimately amassed some 600 paintings and a huge assortment of artifacts, which became his famous Indian Gallery.

This early text contained over 300 line-drawings based on Catlin’s pictures; his later North American Indian Portfolio (1844) added additional sketches. Two later related volumes were Last Rambles Among the Indians of the Rocky Mountains and the Andes and My Life Among the Indians. Catlin’s superb Indian Gallery was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1879.

– William K. Finley

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