Joanna Cohan Scherer, Emeritus Anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institution, was the Illustrations Researcher for the Handbook of North American Indians from 1970 through 2006. Throughout her career with the Handbook she traveled to over 100 repositories researching collections of historical photographs. This research allowed her to create a large collection of historical images relating to Native Americans, currently housed in the National Anthropological Archives (NAA). Scherer has authored several books including A Danish Photographer of Idaho Indians: Benedicte Wrensted (University of Oklahoma Press, 2006) as well as articles in Cultural Anthropology, Arctic Anthropology, and Studies in Visual Communication. She has also been an active member of the Society of Visual Anthropology, a unit of the American Anthropological Association, including past president.


Many early images of Native Americans lie unidentified in archives and special collections. They are remarkable for their imagery, but useless for informing viewers about the people they depict. Scherer has dedicated her career to identifying American Indian images and bringing them back to their family of origin. This website reestablishes the historical context for two previously unidentified daguerreotypes of Omaha Indians.


THIS WEBSITE is a digitalized version of articles published in Nebraska History vol. 78(3), 116-121 ( and The Daguerreian Annual 1997, 146-158 ( revised. The articles have not been digitized by either of these publications.

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