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Catalog Data

Gardner, Iva Towsley  Search this
Shabni, approximately 1775-1859 -- Photographs  Search this
2 ambrotypes (photographs) (1/4 plate)
Box 1
Potawatomi  Search this
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Ambrotypes (photographs)
Scope and Contents:
This collection contains 2 hand-colored ambrotypes that depict portraits of Potawatomi Chief Shabbona, circa 1854-1859. The ambrotypes were given to Iva Towsley Gardner when she served as a nurse within the Potowatami community. The ambrotypes are housed in a union case that features a horse and rider motif. The photographs may have been shot on different dates by different unidentified photographers. At some point in time, a typed note was attached via tape to the glass of one ambrotype. The note states, "Picture of Shabbona and his wife. Property of Iva Towsley Gardner." It has since been determined that both ambrotypes actually depict Chief Shabbona.
The photographs are stored in 1 box.
Biographical / Historical:
Iva Towsley Gardner (born circa 1899) served as a nurse in Illinois and often treated members of the Potawatomi community in her region. She married Laurence Gardner in 1924. Later in life she worked as a nurse in a private home. Chief Shabbona (also spelled Shabonee and Shabni) is best known as a warrior and Chief of the Potawatomi tribe. Born circa 1775 to the Ottawa tribe, Shabbona is believed to be the grand-nephew of Ottawa Chief Pontiac (circa 1720-1769). As a young man Shabbona became an Ottawa chief and later married Coconako, the daughter of Potawatomi Chief Spotka. He eventually became a Potawatomi Chief himself. During the War of 1812 Chief Shabonna fought alongside Tecumseh (Shawnee) in an alliance with Great Britain against the United States. After Tecumseh's death, Chief Shabbona pledged his allegiance to the United States. Chief Shabbona died in Illinois in 1859.
Donated by Ann Hohn in 2017 in memory of her parents Maxine and Glenn Fisher. Glenn Fisher was the nephew of Iva Towsley Gardner.
Access to NMAI Archive Center collections is by appointment only, Monday - Friday, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm. Please contact the archives to make an appointment (phone: 301-238-1400, email:
Permission to publish materials from the collection must be requested from National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center. Please submit a written request to For personal or classroom use, users are invited users to download, print, photocopy, and distribute the images that are available online without prior written permission, provided that the files are not changed, the Smithsonian Institution copyright notice (where applicable) is included, and the source of the image is identified as the National Museum of the American Indian.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Iva Towsley Gardner's collection of Chief Shabbona ambrotypes; National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center, Smithsonian Institution.
Archival Repository:
National Museum of the American Indian