Capturing the Changing Expanse: The Photography of William Prettyman

In the 1880s and 1890s, the region known as Indian Territory was a frantic mix of peoples and cultures.  American Indian groups from vastly different areas of North America were living side by side with Texas cattlemen, and would-be settlers.  The adventurous photographer William Prettyman stepped into this world in 1883, armed only with a daring spirit and his camera he captured a unique moment that was never to be repeated.

A deep impression would be left on anyone living through a time of rapid change but for the modern observer it can be challenging to fully understand the experience.  We can catch a faded glimpse of this period by exploring a small book, bound with a string, on the shelves at The Texas Collection.  One of only two known copies still in existence, Collection of Oklahoma Indian and Cowboy Views is an assembly of 22 photographs taken by William S. Prettyman in Indian Territory in the 1880s.    This exhibit will explore all 22 of these photographs and set them in the context of the region that Prettyman captured with his camera, well over a century ago.  These photographs have been rearranged in order for them to be grouped thematically.  All original captions appear in italics under the photograph.




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