First Wednesday Series

Before the Shadow Catcher: Predecessors of Edward S. Curtis Documenting Native Americans

Presented by Dr. Stephen Beckham

Edward S. Curtis's twenty volume THE NORTH AMERICAN INDIAN and its photographic supplements became a landmark work published in the early twentieth century. Several others, however, preceded Curtis in documenting Native American culture, language, and portraits. These included George Catlin (1830-52), Karl Bodmer (1832-34), Alfred Jacob Miller (1837), Paul Kane (1847), George Gibbs (1849-61), Lt. Lorenzo Lorain and Dr. Edward P. Vollum (1857-58), and Adam Clark Vroman (1894-1903). This presentation establishes the historical context in which Curtis worked and his images of the "vanishing Americans." Catlin, Gibbs, and Lorain all worked along the lower Willamette River in the 1850s. The lecture will include images by each of these visual documentarians.