Visual Images as Texts

American Beginnings: The European Presence in America, 1492–1690

Illustrating the New World (I)
Illustrating the New World (II)
Spanish Conquest Spanish illustrations of the Indians, 1500s [Vistas: Visual Culture in Spanish America]

Europe’s Literary Response Albrecht Durer, letter on Aztec gold (with images)
English Colonies I: New England Colonies Portraits (zoomable) [Worcester Art Museum]

English Colonies III: Chesapeake/Southern Colonies Portraits [Virginia Historical Society]

Africans II: Spanish and French Colonies Illustrations: Labor of enslaved Africans (3), 1500s–1600s

Becoming American: The British Atlantic Colonies, 1690-1763

Cities & Towns Engravings (zoomable) [New York Public Library, #1-3; Library of Congress, #4]

New Settlers Map & drawings of Savannah, Georgia, by P. G. F. von Reck [Royal Library of Denmark]

The Land The animals, plants, and natural resources of British America, commentary and drawings, 1692–1760
Europeans I: British Portraits

Native Americans Portraits by European artists

African Americans Three depictions of African Americans by white artists, 1710–1761
Diversity The Van Bergen overmantel, oil on wood, attributed to John Heaten, New York, ca. 1728–1738
Merchants Merchants satirized in art

  • John Greenwood, Sea Captains Carousing in Surinam, oil, ca. 1752-1758
  • George Roupell, Mr. Peter Manigault and His Friends, ink drawing, ca. 1760
Consumers Luxury consumer goods [Metropolitan Museum of Art]

Home interiors of the wealthy [Metropolitan Museum of Art]

Planters Portraits [Virginia Historical Society]

Union? Benjamin Franklin, “Join, or Die,” engraving & editorial, 1754 [History Carper]


1763: Britain Victorious Benjamin West, The Death of General Wolfe (1759), oil on canvas, 1770 [National Gallery of Canada]
1765–66: Stamp Act Crisis Paul Revere, A View of the Obelisk, engraving with verse, 1766 (pp. 3–4 in compilation)
1766–69: The Crisis Deepens Artists’ depictions of the arrival of British troops in Boston, 1768

1770: Violence — and Pause Paul Revere, The Bloody Massacre, engraving with verse, 1770 (p. 11 in compilation)
1772–73: Crisis Renewed Liberty Triumphant,” cartoon, 1774 (pp. 12–13 in compilation)
Leading the War Portraits: George Washington as Commander in Chief, 1779, 1780, 1785
Reporting the War Engraving and broadside on a parade condemning the treason of Benedict Arnold, 1780
Losing the War British cartoons on Britain’s defeat in the war, 1782
Portraying the Founders Portraits of the Founders in a transitional era, 1780–early 1790s


The Politics of Foreign Affairs: Five Cartoons


An Enslaved Person’s Life Photographs of enslaved African Americans, 1847–ca. 1863
Plantation Green Hill plantation, Virginia, photographs, 1960
Soldiers Photographs of a fugitive recruit in the Union army (Civil War), 1864
Civil War I: Slaves Photographs of African Americans during the Civil War [Library of Congress]
Civil War II: Soldiers Portrait photographs, 1861–1865 [Library of Congress]


Memory: Winslow Homer Winslow Homer, The Veteran in a New Field, oil on canvas, 1865
Re-Union and the Railroad Does not such a meeting make amends?“, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, engraving, 29 May 1869
Visions of the West Oil paintings of landscapes, 19th century

  • Thomas Cole, View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm—The Oxbow, oil on canvas, 1836
  • Albert Bierstadt, Storm in the Mountains, oil on canvas, ca. 1870
  • Frederic Edwin Church, Hooker and Company Journeying through the Wilderness from Plymouth to Hartford in 1636, oil on canvas, 1846
  • Albert Bierstadt, The Oregon Trail, oil on canvas, 1869
Human Machines
Gross Clinic Thomas Eakins, The Gross Clinic, oil on canvas, 1875
Edison Thomas Edison, Observation, 13 Feb. 1921, with photograph of Edison and Charles Steinmetz, n.d.
The American Metropolis The American Metropolis

  • “State Street, Chicago,” photograph, 1905
  • George Bellows, New York, oil on canvas, 1911
Coney Island Silent film: Thomas A. Edison, Inc., Rube and Mandy at Coney Island, film, 1903 [Library of Congress]
Ellis Island Lewis W. Hine, photographs of immigrants, Ellis Island, 1905
Indians Gertrude Käsebier, photographs of Zitkala-Sa, 1898
The Image of the Octopus Six cartoons, 1882–1909

  • “The Curse of California”, The Wasp, 19 Aug. 1882
  • “The Forty T—s [Thieves]”, Harper’s Weekly, 17 March 1888
  • “The Menace of the Hour”, The Verdict, 30 Jan. 1899
  • “An English Country Seat…”, Puck, 23 Oct. 1901
  • “Next!”, Puck, 7 Sept. 1904
  • “The Puzzled Citizen”, Chicago Daily News, 3 Feb. 1909
The Octopus in the West Frank Bellew, “The American Frankenstein“, cartoon, New York Daily Graphic, 14 April 1874 [History Matters]
Images of Big City Politics
  • John Sloan, Election Night, oil on canvas, 1907
  • Henry Glintenkamp, “Voting Machines“, illustration, The Masses, November 1913 []
The Future of the Red Man Studio portraits of Native Americans, 1886–1907
Two Wars Two images

  • Memorial Day, 1898, drawing, [Chicago] Inter Ocean, [May 1898]
  • The Twelve-Inch Gun, watercolor by Rufus F. Zogbaum and poem by James Barnes, in Barnes, Ships and Sailors: Being a collection of songs of the sea as sung by the men who sail it, 1898


The Moment of Freedom
Citizens Alfred R. Waud, “The First Vote“, illustration in Harper’s Weekly, 16 Nov. 1867 [HarpWeek]
Public Image
History Meta Warrick, “Negro Tableaux” created for the Jamestown Tercentennial Exposition, 1907

Africa Leigh Richmond Miner, photographs reflecting African traditions at Penn School, St. Helena Island, S.C., early 1900s
Education Frances Benjamin Johnston, photographs of students and teachers at Tuskegee Institute, Alabama, 1902
Business Edward Bannister, Newspaper Boy, oil on canvas, 1869
Family Photographs of African American families, 1870s–1910s
Racial Politics Images of African American political action, 1860s–1910s [Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library]
“Race Problem” Winslow Homer, The Gulf Stream, oil on canvas, 1899
The Vote Negro Rule”, The [Raleigh, NC] News and Observer, cartoon, 27 Sept. 1898 [University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries]
Lynching The Dogwood Tree”, photograph postcard, 1908
Protest D. W. Griffith, Birth of a Nation, film, 1915, videoclips
Popular Culture


Life Under Segregation Robert Gwathmey, Poll Tax Country, oil on canvas, 1945
Segregation and the Black Psyche Elizabeth Catlett, The Negro Woman, linoleum cut series, 1946–1947, selections
The Ambiguity of Integration
The Promised Land? William H. Johnson, Moon over Harlem, oil on plywood, ca. 1943–1944 [Smithsonian American Art Museum]
Old Timers, Newcomers Leslie Rogers, “People We Can Get Along Without,” cartoon, Chicago Defender, 9 July 1921 [History Matters]
New Art Aaron Douglas, Song of the Towers, in mural series Aspects of Negro Life, 1934 [American Studies at the University of Virginia]
Painting the Migration Jacob Lawrence, The Migration of the Negro, series of sixty paintings, casein tempera on hardboard, 1940–41

Marching Reginald Gammon, Freedom Now, acrylic on board, 1963 [American Studies at the University of Virginia]
Community on Film H. Lee Waters, Kannapolis, N.C., film, 1941, in series Movies of Local People, video clips

Image of Community, 1939 Augusta Savage, Lift Every Voice and Sing (The Harp), plaster sculpture, 1939
Image of Community, 1968 Elizabeth Catlett, Black Unity, wood sculpture, 1968
From Negro to Black Romare Bearden, Sermons: The Walls of Jericho, photomechanical reproductions, pencil, brush & ink, and watercolor on paperboard, 1964 [Hirshorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution]
Attacking Stereotypes