scenes of scalping underscored the image of the Native
American as a savage.
scrapbook also demonstrates the range of his social connections.
In addition to his photograph collection and his finished drawings
of heroic fights, his album includes mementoes such as autographs
and letters from famous people. One such letter, written to
him by Elizabeth Custer, set an appointment to see his photographs.
Under a portrait of Custer in the album (right), Taylor wrote,
"his wife’s favourite picture." Likely it was
one they had discussed.
In 1883 Taylor retired from Leslie’s and sold
photographic copies of his drawings. He also continued to publish
his work. Colonel Richard Irving Dodge, an important military
officer, used Taylor’s drawings to illustrate his memoirs
of the Indian wars. Entitled Our Wild Indians: Thirty-three
Years’ Personal Experience Among the Red Men of the Great
West (1882), this book was hailed by reviewers with equal
praise going to Taylor for his realistic images. Dodge was considered
one of the most accurate historians of the period, however,
illustrations such as those done by Taylor contributed to stereotypes
about "savage" and uncivilized Indians. His illustrations
tended to portray Indians in battle, slaughtering defenseless
settlers, or surrendering to White forces. These depictions
are hardly surprising inasmuch as Taylor was specifically hired
to illustrate heroic military engagements.
Gen. George A. Custer —
"his wife's favourite picture."
More About It
James E. Taylor, With Sheridan Up the Shenandoah Valley in 1864:
Leaves from a Special Artist's Sketchbook and Diary. Cleveland,
OH: Western Reserve Historical Society, 1989.
Charles G. Markantes, James E. Taylor, Artist & Correspondent.
Research Review: The Journal of the Little Big Horn Associates.
Vol. 12, No. 1 (Winter 1998), pp. 2-13.
The American Memory project has digitized many drawings from
LESLIE'S ILLUSTRATED NEWSPAPER. To perform a search, type "leslie's
illustrated" into the search prompt on this
page (select "Match this exact phrase" below the
The American Newspaper Repository
is preserving a unique collection of original newspapers and
their richly colored illustrations.
Joseph Rosa, Wild Bill Hickok: The Man and His Myth. Lawrence:
University Press of Kansas, 1996.
extremely early portrait of Buffalo Bill Cody (left) and Louis
E. Taylor died 1901 in New York. He was sufficiently recognized
that newspapers around the United States carried his obituary.
Aside from his artwork and image archives, Taylor left little
else to illuminate his life. His scrapbook, however, provides
insights into many aspects of 19th-century life in America.
The album contains 118 pages of historical treasures. Discovered
in a pile of old books, it was donated to the archives in 1961
with the suggestion that with few exceptions, most of the pages
could be discarded. Fortunately that advice went unheeded. As
it was a personal album, connections between Taylor’s
life and many of the images remain unknown. Through use over
the years, some of its creator’s captions have flaked
off, resulting in the loss of information. While many of the
album’s stories are known, there remain mysteries for
researchers still to solve.
by Paula Fleming
Designed by Robert Leopold
Digital imaging by Becky Malinsky