This collection contains all 20 original folios of Thomas Loraine Mckenney and James Hall's History of the Indian Tribes of North America, with biographical sketches and anecdotes of the principal chiefs. The folios were published and sent to subscribers between 1836-1844 and include 120 hand-colored lithographic plates. As Superintendent of Indian Affairs from 1824-1830, McKenney commissioned and collected portraits of Native American leaders, the majority painted by Charles Bird King. These portraits, along with biographical text by James Hall, form the basis of History of the Indian Tribes of North America.
Scope and Contents:
This collection includes all 20 folios of Thomas Loraine Mckenney and James Hall's History of the Indian Tribes of North America, with biographical sketches and anecdotes of the principal chiefs in their original wrappers. Each folio includes six hand-colored lithographic plates along with biographical essays on Native American leaders, both men and women, from the early 19th century.
Native Communities represented in these volumes include—Sauk, Meskwaki (Fox), Shawnee, Osage, Anishinaabe (Chippewa/Ojibwa), Mississippi Choctaw, Mdewakantonwan Dakota (Mdewakanton Sioux), Eastern Band of Cherokee, Ho-Chunk (Winnebago), Oto, Seneca, Chaticks Si Chaticks (Pawnee), Yanktonnai Nakota, Muskogee (Creek), Omaha, Iowa, Sac and Fox (Sauk and Fox), Oklahoma Cherokee, Lenape (Delaware), Numakiki (Mandan), Euchee (Yuchi), Potawatomi, Seminole, Mohawk, Menominee (Menomini), Quatsino Kwakwaka'wakw, Odawa (Ottawa), Pikuni (Piegan) [Blackfeet Nation, Browning, Montana], Powhatan, Kaw (Kansa).
The lithographs were cataloged individually with P (print) numbers P27694-P27813, though not physically separated from their volumes.
Please note that the language and terminology used in this collection reflects the context and culture of the time of its creation, and may include culturally sensitive information. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution, but is available in its original form to facilitate research.
Arranged by foilio number.
Biographical / Historical:
Thomas Loraine McKenney was born in 1785 to a family of Quakers in Hopewell, Maryland. Following the abolition of the U.S. Indian Trade program in 1822, McKenney (1785-1859) was appointed to the new position of Superintendent of Indian Affairs, which he held from 1824-1830. During his time as Superintendent of Indian trade in Georgetown, McKenney hired the painter Charles Bird King and began developing a governmental collection of portraits of prominent Native chiefs and elders who visited Washington. Between 1821-1842, King painted over 100 portraits with some assistance from friend and student George Cook.
Following his dismissal from the War Department by President Andrew Jackson in 1830, McKenney moved to Philadelphia to begin the process of getting his collection of portraits reproduced as lithographs with original hand coloring. The publication would document the extensive collection of King paints, many of which were later lost in a fire that destroyed part of the Smithsonian castle in January 1865.
This process was aided by Edward C. Biddle, a Philadelphia printer, who published the first volume (parts 1-6) in 1836 of what would be a three-volume set of 20 folios. James Hall (1793-1868), a judge and known writer, was hired to write text based on McKenney's research. Later parts were published between 1836-1844 by Frederick W. Greenough (parts 7-13), J.T. Bowen (part 14), and by Daniel Rice and James G. Clark (15-20). Several octavo editions were later published.
Provenance is unknown, part of the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation collection when the MAI became the NMAI in 1989.
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Identification of specific item; Date (if known); McKenney and Hall's History of the Indian Tribes of North America folios and lithographs image #, NMAI.AC.115; National Museum of the American Indian Archives Center, Smithsonian Institution.