As I mentioned in the previous post, I’ve been doing work to help make information about the students at the Carlisle Indian School more widely available. I had as a long-term goal to write a book about it. I had even started the outline for what I’ll now call That Book. That Book is planned to be a history of the school aimed at a popular audience.
But, for complicated reasons, I’m now committed to finishing a different book on the Indian School by the end of the summer. I will refer to this book as This Book, although it has a working title-The Carlisle Indian School: A Photographic History. Here’s my preliminary blurb:
From the beginning, the Carlisle Indian Industrial School was documented in photographs. The photographic record initiated with the school’s founding was intended to share with the world the progress and successes of the process of transforming Native Americans into imitations of white middle-class Americans, ready to assimilate into late 19th century America. In their time, the photographs served their desired purposes: to promote the school, to create a brand, to aid in fundraising, and to capture a narrow perspective on student life. Today’s viewers look at them with different eyes and greater knowledge and understanding of what Carlisle represented.
The Carlisle Indian School: A Photographic History will trace the history of the school through these images, exploring how photography can inform an initial understanding of what Carlisle meant to the culture of its time, and give an indication of the legacy it left for its students and our culture today. Drawing on the latest scholarship and rich in images, this volume will be an ideal introduction to the complex history of the first Federally-managed off-reservation boarding school for Native Americans in the United States. Lists of students who attended the Carlisle Indian School, as well as staff members, will also be included, based on the records from the National Archives now available online through the Carlisle Indian School Digital Resource Center.
So, there you go. That’s what will be keeping me busy this summer. If you see me spending too much time on Twitter (which I might do, since I have to write), scold me and tell me to get back to work.
I’m happy to begin connecting with others who are interested in this topic or might have resources to recommend for either This Book or That Book. I’m also happy to hear from publishers who are interested in learning more about either Book.
Wish me luck!