of Native Americans, an electronic collection that includes images
and text from the Bancroft Library materials covering 400 years
of Native American history, has won a special commendation from
the American Library Association (ALA). The organization announced
the award in July at its annual meeting in Toronto.
developing the website, Bill Brown, Bancroft associate director
for public services, culled photographs, lantern slides, illustrations,
portraits, and other images from rare books, newspapers, pulp magazines,
advertisements, and other material. He worked with Brooke Dockter
of the Librarys digital publishing group to produce an easy-to-use
digital site that would educate, entertain, and contribute to a
better understanding of the historical perceptions of Native Americans.
are several ways to navigate and explore the online collection.
In addition to allowing chronological and alphabetical access, the
Bancroft site organizes and presents examples of its extensive collection
in categories that encourage the study of Euro-American attitudes
toward Native Americans as they developed over the course of the
19th and 20th centuries.
instance, the Early Ethnography category contains a
range of photographs, lantern slides, illustrations, and text excerpts
that represent early European-American efforts to study and document
Native American culture. These include excerpts from Henry Rowe
Schoolcrafts Information Respecting the History, Condition
and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States as well
as from The American Aboriginal Portfolio, written in the mid-19th
century by Mary Henderson Eastman and featuring illustrations by
her husband, U.S. Infantry Captain Seth Eastman.
of course there are distinct differences between the Native American
way of life a century and a half ago and that of modern-day viewers,
there are points of similarity as well. In describing the activity
portrayed in Seth Eastmans illustration Ball-Play on the Ice
(bottom right), his wife wrote: ... braves of one village
send a message to those of another, challenging them to a game of
ball....The challenge is always accepted; old men, young men, and
boys, are eager for the fun. It must here be remembered, that each
Indian feels it a sort of duty to enjoy himself in the same customs
as did his ancestors; and in the game of ball, duty and inclination
meet most harmoniously.
category in the online exhibit, Mass Market Appeal,
presents samples of comic books and other popular publications and
images that reflect common myths and stereotypes of Native Americans.
Yet another, Foreign Views, catalogs examples of early
European imaginings of Native American life.
presenting the award to the Bancroft, the ALA also praised the websites
chronicling of the evaluation, purchase, and behind-the-scenes conservation
of James Otto Lewis Aboriginal Port Folio, the University
of California Librarys nine-millionth volume and a jewel in
the Bancrofts Native American collection. The heart of the
online exhibit is found in the images taken from the Aboriginal
Port Folios color plates, which were produced from sketches
Lewis made as he toured Native American treaty councils in the early
1800s. Published in 1835-36, it was the first book in the nation
devoted to images of Native Americans.
view the Images of Native Americans website, visit: