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The Kurz Sketchbook

Introductory Notes

Rudolph Friederich Kurz was a noted Swiss artist who spent the years from 1846 to 1852 at the western trading posts of the great fur companies on the Mississippi and the upper Missouri Rivers.

He recorded his experiences in his journal. The original manuscript of the journal is in the Historical Museum in Bern, Switzerland. An English translation of the journal (originally in German) was published by the Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 115 in 1937.

Kurz made numerous sketches in his journal along with the written narrative. He was one of the earliest artists to record these scenes, and Kurz's sketches provide important historical details about the lives of the Indians and fur traders who inhabited this part of the American West.

Links to the Sketches

The text of Kurz's journal is not yet available in electronic format (to my knowledge), but here are the sketches. These images were scanned in from the plates in Bulletin 115.

Plate 1

Plate 2

Plate 3

Plate 4

Plate 5

Plate 6

Plate 7

Plate 8

Plate 9

Plate 10

Plate 11

Plate 12

Plate 13

Plate 14

Plate 15

Plate 16

Plate 17

Plate 18

Plate 19

Plate 20

Plate 21

Plate 22

Plate 23

Plate 24

Plate 25

Plate 26

Plate 27

Plate 28

Plate 29

Plate 30

Plate 31

Plate 32

Plate 33

Plate 34

Plate 35

Plate 36

Plate 37

Plate 38

Plate 39

Plate 40

Plate 41

Plate 42

Plate 43

Plate 44

Plate 45

Plate 46

Plate 47

Plate 48