Three Chapters on Illustration

The illustrative material decorating the pages of Lewis and Clark literature, wrote historian Paul Russell Cutright, is colorful, diversified, representative, and at times provocative. In these respects, it surely rivals that of almost any other comparable body of literature. . . . Future illustrators of Lewis and Clark may wish to vary their graphic milieu. If so, there are available to them a number of sources heretofore entirely overlooked or only partially utilized.1

Ever since Discovering Lewis & Clark opened on line in 1998, we have sought to follow Prof. Cutright's suggestion. We have drawn examples from Alexander Wilson's American Ornithology (1808-1814 and 1828-1829), Frederick Pursh's Flora Americae Septentrionalis (1814), John Godman's American Natural History (1815), the Doughty brothers' Cabinet of Natural History and American Rural Sports (1830-33), Audubon's Birds of America (1839), Audubon and Bachman's Quadrupeds of North America (1849-1854), William Guthrie's New Geographical, Historical, and Commercial Grammar (1815), Isaac Stevens' Report of Explorations and Surveys (1855-60), A. E. Mathews' Pencil Sketches of Montana (1868), and more.

Mechanical tracing contraption


Thomas Jefferson Papers, Manuscript Reading Room, Library of Congress

Without cameras, how did people in 1800 make pictures of what they saw?

  • 1. Paul Russell Cutright, A History of the Lewis and Clark Journals (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1976), 239-40