Newberry Library Ayer Art Digital Collection (Newberry Library)
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or 1-312-255-3506

About this Collection

Collection Description

This collection of over 500 images hints at the rich visual material on American Indian history and culture found within the Library's world-renowned Ayer Collection. In 1911, Edward E. Ayer (1841-1927) donated more than 17,000 pieces on the early contacts between American Indians and Europeans. Ayer, a member of the Library's first Board of Trustees, was the first donor of a great collection to the Newberry. Since then, the Ayer endowment has enabled the Library to collect in excess of 130,000 volumes, over 1 million manuscript pages, 2000 maps, 500 atlases, 11,000 photographs and 3500 drawings and paintings relating to the discovery, exploration and settlement of the Americas.

Notable among the visual representations of the North American Indian material within the Ayer collection are 1200 red-chalk drawings of western and southwestern Indians by Elbridge A. Burbank; the pencil sketch books of George Catlin; Karl Bodmer's sketches of the Indians of the Northern Plains; ledger books; the Haupt manuscript and sketches of the Chippewas; and a collection of over 3000 photographs of individual Indians.

If you have further questions, feel free to contact a Reference Librarian ( or call the Library's Reference Desk at (312) 255-3506.

Indian lodges, color notes