"The Breakfast on the Prairie" from Harper's New Monthly Magazine, (June 1863)

"People Escaping from the Indian Massacre, At Dinner on a Prairie" by Adrian J. Ebell (August 21, 1862)


Before halftone reproductions became available late in the 19th century, popular illustrated papers and magazines relied on wood engravings. Often, the engravers based their work on photographs and took few artistic liberties. But the comparison above shows this was not always the case. There are several points of variance, most notably the elimination from the composition of the girl in the left foreground. The photograph, with its jumble of patterns and textures, seem more chaotic than the almost- placid view depicted in the wood engraving.

Sources: for an excellent account of the Minnesota Massacre and subsequent events, please see the chapter entitled "Little Crow's War" in Dee Brown's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. For more on Ebell, see "Adrian J. Ebell, Photographer and Journalist of the Dakota War of 1862" by Alan R. Woolworth, published in Minnesota History (Summer 1994: pp. 87--92). Woolworth is a research fellow at the Minneapolis Historical Society, which kindly supplied information.


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