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December 31, 1993

Library of Congress New Publication: The North American Indian Portfolios from the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress, in association with Abbeville Press, has announced the publication of The North American Indian Portfolios. The attractive full-color volume, part of Abbeville's popular Tiny Folios series, features some of the earliest depictions of Native Americans rendered by white artists.

The images are taken from three important early published works: Prince Maximilian Alexander Philipp von Wied-Neuwied's Travels to the Interior of North America Between 1832 and 1834 (Karl Bodmer, artist), George Catlin's North American Indian Portfolio, and Thomas L. McKenney and James Hall's History of the Indian Tribes of North America (Charles Bird King, principal artist).

The three books, published between 1835 and 1841, provide valuable early sociological, historical, and ethnological studies of the American Indian and represent a radical change in how Americans perceived the native peoples. Prior to their publication, white settlers and Europeans thought of Native Americans as either vicious savages who stood in the way of progress, or as noble savages uncorrupted by modern civilization. Bodmer, Catlin, and King -- among others -- not only helped dispel these extreme stereotypes but they also captured the humanity of the Indians, their personalities, customs, and daily lives.

These early classics are among the holdings in the Library's Rare Book and Special Collections Division, whose mission is to document the printed, visual, and written history of America. In his introduction to The North American Indian Portfolios, James Gilreath, American History Specialist in Rare Book and Special Collections, examines the significance of each of the three works featured in the Portfolios and describes how they were united in the view that Native American culture was imperiled by the march of Western culture. Bodmer, Catlin, McKenney, and Hall all shared the sense that theirs was a unique -- and possibly final -- moment to depict a culture in its pure state.

Visitors to the Library may purchase The North American Indian Portfolios at the Sales Shop in the Madison Building for $10.95, or may be request it through the mail, for an additional $3.50 for shipping and handling. Purchases may be made by check, money order, or with MasterCard or Visa. Mail requests to the Library of Congress, Publishing Office, Box J, Washington, D.C. 20540-8620.

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PR 93-168
ISSN 0731-3527

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