the many photographic albums in the National Anthropological
Archives, perhaps the most interesting and historically important
is a scrapbook kept by an American illustrator, James E. Taylor
(1839-1901). A professional artist, Taylor’s newspaper
illustrations served to popularize stereotypes of the Western
frontier during the post-Civil War years. Like other illustrators
and writers of the period, he depicted Indian-White relations
in terms of savagery versus civilization and encouraged Americans
to visualize the nation’s Westward expansion in heroic
terms. In many ways, Taylor’s professional legacy as a
"reporter" is lodged between the technological juncture
that existed between newspaper publishing and photography in
the 19th century.
the mid-19th century, stories carried by newspapers could not
be illustrated and readers had to use their imagination based
solely on textual descriptions. Even after the invention of
photography, it was still impossible to publish photographs
until late in the century. Instead, images had to be converted
into line drawings before publication. This produced a new type
of artist whose legacy is now largely forgotten — an artist
who was adept at translating the realistic essence of photographs
and oral descriptions into simple illustrations.
In a period when the American public hungered for "authentic"
images from the American West (indeed, from around the globe),
these drawings had an immense impact on the public imagination.
Journals such as Harper’s Weekly: A Journal of Civilization,
Ballou’s Pictorial Drawing-room Companion, and
Leslie’s Illustrated — newspapers published
during the time of westward expansion — catered to this
public craving for images. This not only contributed to the
rapid growth of photographic studios, but also a small group
of professional artists specifically assigned to illustrate
news stories — the predecessors of today’s photo-journalists.
illustrations contributed to 19th century Euro-American stereotypes
of Native Americans. This drawing of the kidnapping of Josephine
Meeker appeared in Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper in 1880.
caption reads, in part: "Then he placed a musket to her
forehead and said 'Indian going to shoot.' The courageous girl
never flinched and laughed at the burley savage."
the Taylor Album Image Gallery
James E. Taylor album contains 1,109 drawings, photographs,
newspaper clippings and letters on 118 album pages. This exhibit
includes 748 items and a selection of album pages. Because the
digital images are large, a high-speed Internet connection is
This link opens our online catalog (SIRIS) in another window.
In SIRIS, you can click on a title to view the full catalog
record. Then click the thumbnail image to view a full-screen
View album pages:
Battle of the Washita
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