Louise E. Jefferson (after)
Indians of the U.S.A.
Friendship Press, Inc., New York: 1944
22.5 x 34.5 inches, overall
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Pictorial map of the United States labeled with the locations of various Native American tribes, including the “historic location of tribes now living, in whole or in part, in other areas,” which are noted by a triangle next to the name. The map is illustrated throughout with small scenes of historic events such as the westward migration in covered wagons and landmarks such as forts and Indian schools. Also included are small portraits of important figures from the 19th century, both Native Americans and American pioneers. At the bottom are larger images of Indians paddling a canoe and on horseback. There is an inset map of Alaska lower left with a picture of a totem pole. The decorative border has a design of colored triangles on either side of an ochre-colored stripe. Along the top and bottom the stripe is printed with the names of famous Native Americans and their tribes; along the left and right are small designs taken from traditional Indian artwork.
A black-and-white version of this map was used as the endpapers of a book by Ruth Muskrat Bronson titled Indians are People, Too, also published in 1944 by the Friendship Press. This suggests that the intent of the map was to educate Americans about these traditional cultures and foster a respectful attitude toward them.
The map was done by Louise E. Jefferson, a prominent African-American illustrator and designer for several decades in New York City. It is one of a series of maps of different places around the world published by the Friendship Press of the National Council of Churches. As Art Director of the Friendship Press, Jefferson illustrated many of the maps they published. These maps generally promote peace, tolerance and cooperation, with historical illustrations as well as illustrations relating to Christian institutions.
Louise E. Jefferson was an illustrator, art director, calligrapher, cartographer and photographer. During her long career, she produced a large body of work as an illustrator, graphic designer and photographer, both as a freelancer and as the art director of the Friendship Press, the publishing agent of the National Council of Churches, a post she held from 1942 to 1968. She may have been the first African-American woman to work as an art director in the publishing industry.
Jefferson was born in Washington, D.C. and moved to New York City to study art at Hunter College and Columbia University. There she came into contact with the artists and writers of the Harlem Renaissance, and in 1935 was a founding member of the Harlem Artist's Guild. Her first illustrated book, We Sing America (1936) created a stir when she depicted black and white children playing together; indeed, the book was banned by the governor of Georgia. Ironically, Jefferson later recounted that in her career as an artist, she personally encountered more sexism as a woman than racism as an African-American. Besides designing and illustrating books for publishers such as Viking and Doubleday, she produced numerous cultural pictorial maps for the Friendship Press emphasizing world cooperation and ethnic and racial tolerance, including Africa, China, and Native Americans in the United States. Jefferson frequently worked for African-American organizations, including the NAACP, for whom she designed holiday seals over a period of about 40 years. She also wrote and illustrated The Decorative Arts of Africa (1973), based on her travels in Africa during the previous decade, some of which were supported by grants from the Ford Foundation.
Full publication information: Published by Friendship Press, Inc., 156 Fifth Avenue, New York 10, N.Y. Printed in the United States of America.
"Extravagant Crowd: Louise E. Jefferson." Yale University Beinecke Library. http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/cvvpw/gallery/jefferson.html (25 October 2011).
Katanski, Amelia V. Learning to Write "Indian": The Boarding-School Experience and American Indian Literature.Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 2007. pp. 10-11.
Smith, Jessie Carney. Notable Black Women. pp. 328-330. Online at Google Books: http://books.google.com/books?id=ssMBzqrUpjwC (25 October 2011).