In the 1870s, U.S. western survey leader Ferdinand V. Hayden and his photographer William Henry Jackson assembled multiple iterations of albums and album sets entitled Photographs of North American Indians. These volumes and the dizzyingly large archive from which they were created were born of—and circulated throughout—artistic, economic, and scientific networks that transcended national borders.
Tracing these interconnections across the Americas, Europe, and Asia implicates American survey photography as a global, not merely national, project in which these pictures have performed differently in various national contexts across space and time.
Emily Voelker is Assistant Professor of Art History in the UNC Greensboro College of Visual and Performing Arts. A historian of photography and 19th-century art, her work focuses on transatlantic exhibition culture, indigenous representation, and changing meanings and uses of the archive over time.
She is currently undertaking two related book projects. The first, Circulating Pictures/Contested Geographies: Photography, Native American Sovereignty & the French Atlantic Imaginary, examines photographs of Plains Indians either sent to, or made at, exhibitions in Paris in the late 19th century. The second, a collaboration with Dr. Erin Hyde Nolan entitled Reading Native American Portraits in Ottoman: Global Economies of 19th-Century Survey Photography, traces a decades-long photographic gift exchange between the U.S. and Ottoman empires.
Her work has been supported by fellowships from the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Smithsonian Institution (NPG & NMAH), the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, and the Peter Palmquist Memorial Fund, among others.
Presented on September 25, 2021.