Purchase a digital download of the article “A History of McKenney and Hall’s History of the Indian Tribes of North America” by Christopher Lane from Imprint, Vol. 27, no. 2 (Autumn 2002), 2-15.
In this article, Lane clarifies the extremely complicated publishing history of McKenney and Hall’s monumental work containing 117 lithographed portraits of Native Americans, “the largest and most elaborate lithographed volume” issued in the United States to that time. As head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Thomas L. McKenney assembled an archive of artifacts and portraits by Charles Bird King and James Otto Lewis that would eventually make up the War Department’s Indian Gallery. In 1829 McKenney initiated his “Great National Work,” to publish lithographs of the portraits. Over the next fourteen years, many different publishers and lithographers were involved. Examples of publishers, imprints, and their variations can aid in the identification of variant images.