Photographs of Indians of the southwest and the plains

Collection History

This digital presentation draws upon an exhibition presented by the Library in 1994, Four Hundred Years of Native-American Portraits, on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of Columbus's discovery of the Americas. Offering a selective view of the history of Native American portraiture, drawn exclusively from the Library's collections, it reprised an earlier Library exhibition held in the then-new landmark building on Fifth Avenue in 1912. In that same year the last of the contiguous United States territories achieved statehood, a political act that symbolically and literally closed the "frontier" phase of United States history.


The New York Public Library's collection of Native American portraiture has its foundation in early gifts and purchases from Dr.Wilberforce Eames, the Library's bibliographer and former Librarian of the Lenox Library, and from J. P. Morgan, who helped sponsor Edward S. Curtis's monumental survey, The North American Indian (1907-30). Curtis's extensive series had precedents in several earlier works, notably those by Karl Bodmer and George Catlin both of whose drawings from the early 1830s were published later as color prints.

Related Resources

"Exhibition of Portraits of American Indians"; Bulletin of The New York Public Library 16 (1912): 451-53.

"Four Hundred Years of Native-American Portraits: Prints and Photographs from the Collections of The New York Public Library." Biblion II, 1 (Fall 1993): 100–140, illus.

Weitenkampf, Frank. Early Pictures of North American Indians: A Question of Ethnology (1950).


Collection Data

Duplicate copyright deposit photographs, most copyright by Karl Moon, Moon-Keleher Studio or Fred Harvey. Copyright number, date and L.C. Division of Prints accession number stamped on verso. Some have title, photographer and copyright date in ink on recto, others in ink on paper labels affixed to photograph. Some views are blind stamped with copyright date and Harvey's name. Some of the images copyright by Harvey may have been made by Moon. Includes one image by unidentified photographer which was copyright by A. Benj. Smith of Seattle, Washington.
Harvey, Fred (Copyright holder)
Moon, Carl, 1878-1948 (Photographer)
Smith, A. Benjamin (Copyright holder)
Moon-Keleher Studio (Photographer)
Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1905 - 1914
Library locations
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection
Shelf locator: MFY 93-6283
Indians of North America
United States
Acquisition: Picture Collection transfer, 1986.
Statement of responsibility: Fred Harvey and Karl Moon.
Physical Description
Gelatin silver prints
Palladium prints
Extent: 47 photographic prints : silver gelatin, b&w ; 17 x 11 cm or smaller; 1 photographic print : palladium, b&w ; 12 x 16 cm
Type of Resource
Still image
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b11766869
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 4b0a1230-c6d9-012f-b6f0-58d385a7bc34
Show filters Hide filters
x Photographs of Indians of the southwest and the plains
Date Range
49 results found