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Clarke Historical Library

November 2020

Major Acquisition of Native American Title   

Thomas McKenney, the federal official most responsible for dealing with Indian affairs in the 1820s and 1830s, was a complicated man. He was responsible for the federal policy to remove Eastern tribes and force them west of the Mississippi River. He did his job with relentless efficiency, yet at the same time he was troubled about the consequences of his actions. He became concerned about the tribes' survival. As a result, he began a project to document tribal leaders.

One of the most important results of this documentation project was recently acquired by the Clarke in first edition. The three-volume publication, the History of the Indian Tribes of North America, with Biographical Sketches and Anecdotes of the Principal Chiefs, Embellished with One Hundred and Twenty Portraits from the Indian Gallery of the Department of War At Washington (brevity was not a feature of nineteenth century book titles), was begun in 1848 and completed in 1850. The book was co-authored by Thomas McKenney, who drew on his knowledge of Native Americans and a wealth of paintings he had commissioned, and James Hall, who actually wrote most of the text. The work serves as an incredible visual record of the leaders with whom McKenney had dealt.

The three-volume set would go through many printings. But the first edition has the best color images ? subsequent volumes were reprinted from the original printing plates and repeated use caused the reproductions to become less sharp. As for the paintings McKenny commissioned, they were destroyed in the Smithsonian fire in 1865.

Speaker Series Videos on YouTube

As another season of the Clarke Speaker Series wraps up, recordings for most of the actual events are now available on YouTube, linked below. These facilitated events include not only the presentation itself, but also follow-up up questions and comments from the audience. Catch up on any you missed at the Clarke YouTube channel!

  • Anne Hiebert Alton and Gretchen Papazian, Creating the Exhibit, 'The Surprise and Wonder of Pop-up Books'
  • Matthew Reinhart, Pop-up Book Author and Engineer
  • Carl Doud, Early Michigan's Scourge of Mosquitoes and Malaria
  • Miles Harvey, author of The King of Confidence about James Jesse Strang, the self-proclaimed King of Beaver Island
  • Joyce Baugh, author of The Detroit School Busing Case

    New Blog Posts

    The library blog, News & Notes, is now ten years old! During that time, it has covered a wide range of topics related to the Clarke's collections, exhibitions, and outreach. Recent posts have included recaps of guest speakers (Jim Gillingham and the history of CMU on Beaver Island), the Clarke Presidential Campaign Biography Collection, and Homecoming. Check out the blog page regularly or follow the Clarke on social media for alerts of new content posted.


    The Surprise and Wonder of Pop-Up Books exhibition continues in the Clarke gallery and appointments for viewing may be made by contacting the library at or 989-774-3352. Meanwhile, planning has begun for our next exhibit, which is about food & drink and their meaning to the people of Michigan. In order to gather memories to include in the exhibit, we're asking for your help by sharing one with us via the online form linked here. Your memory might just become part of our next exhibit! Please share this with others you know who might be interested.

    Library Hours

    Clarke Historical Library is open by appointment Monday - Friday from 9-5 through December 11. After closing for the winter break, the current plan is for the library to reopen January 4 by appointment only and with the same hours.