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Joanna Cohan Scherer showing her book


Joanna C. Scherer

Emeritus Anthropologist

Division: Ethnology

Area of Specialization:
North American Indian ethnology

Fax:  202-357-2208
E-mail Address:

Department of Anthropology Mailing Address

Mailing Address:

Department of Anthropology
National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian Institution
P.O. Box 37012
MRC 112
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012

Professional Activities:

Former Illustrations Researcher for the Handbook of North American Indians (1978-2006).
Board of Directors of the Society for Visual Anthropology, a
unit of the American Anthropological Association.

Research Interests/Profile:

North American Indian ethnology - fieldwork in southeastern Idaho, visual anthropology, and the history of anthropology

Selected Publications:


2008 Edward Sheriff Curtis.  Phaidon Press, London and New York.
2006 A Danish Photographer of Idaho Indians: Benedicte Wrensted,
University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.
1993 Special double issue of Rendezvous: Idaho State University Journal of Artand Letters 28(1-2):Benedicte Wrensted: An Idaho Photographer in Focus (Joanna C. Scherer, ed.). Also published as a separate book by the Idaho State University Press.
1990 Special double issue of Visual Anthropology 3(2-3):
Picturing Cultures: Historical Photographs in Anthropological Inquiry. (Joanna C. Scherer, ed.)

World Wide Web:

2003 Red Cloud's Manikin and His Uncle's Shirt: Historical Representation
in the Museum as seen through photo analysis.
1997 Benedicte Wrensted: An Idaho Photographer in Focus.


2005 "Red Cloud's Manikin and His Uncle's Shirt: Historical Representation in the Museum as seen through Photo Analysis." In The People of the Buffalo, vol. 2, The Plains Indians of North America. Essays in honor of John C. Ewers. Eds. Colin Taylor and Hugh Dempsey, Tatanka Press, Wyk auf Foehr, Germany.
1999  "W.H. Boorne's Photos of the Medicine Lodge Ceremony: The Construction of an Icon." European Review of Native American Studies, 13(2):37-46.
1997 "A Preponderance of Evidence: The 1852 Omaha Indian Delegation Daguerreotypes Recovered," Nebraska History, vol. 78(3):116-121.
1992 "The Photographic Document: Photographs as Primary Data in Anthropological Inquiry," pp. 32-41 in Anthropology and Photography. Elizabeth Edwards, ed. New Haven: Yale University. In 1994 this book
won a Kraszna-Krausz Book Award for photography.
1988 "The Public Faces of Sarah Winnemucca, " Cultural Anthropology" Journal of the Society for Cultural Anthropology, vol. 3(2):178-204.
1975 "You Can't Believe Your Eyes:  Inaccuracies in Photographs of
North American Indians," Studies in the Anthropology of Visual Communication, vol. 2(2):67-79. Reprinted in Exposure: The Journal of the Society for Photographic Education, Chicago, vol. 16(4), 1979. Reprinted in Working Papers on Photography, Science Museum of Victoria, Australia, 1980.


A Danish Photographer of Idaho Indians: Benedicte Wrensted was awarded the following honors:

a) Idaho Book of the year for 2006 by the Idaho Library Association

b) Secretary's Research Prize, Smithsonian Institution, 2008

c) Collier Prize for Still Photography Research, Society for Visual Anthropology, 2008

Science Achievement Award, 2005, for work on Volume 14, the Southeast volume, Handbook of North American Indians from the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian.

Award for 4-Star, newsletter of Smithsonian Institution's Women's Council, Founding Editor, 1981

International Women's Year Certificate, Smithsonian, 1975


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