In Search of the Modern Type: Angel de Cora's Indigenous Book Illustration and the Work of Abstraction

When and Where

Thursday, October 12, 2023 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Charbonnel Lounge
St. Michael’s College
81 St. Mary Street, Toronto, ON M5S 1J4


Caroline Wigginton


Around 1900, Ho-Chunk artist and book illustrator Angel de Cora created a portrait for Mary Catherine Judd’s collection Wigwam Stories. That portrait, “The Indian of To-Day,” serves as the frontispiece for the book’s final section, which is about what was then contemporary Indigenous American life in the US. The image depicts a Native adult, wearing a bandanna, pants, shirt, and moccasins. Their hair is in two plaits, and they are leaning into a log cabin doorway. It is a portrait that is both unremarkable in its suggestion of an informal, every-day existence, and unlike other common images of ca. 1900 Indigenous persons.

By tracing the circulation of turn-of-the-century Indigenous portraits alongside Angel de Cora’s journeys as an artist, this talk establishes a thick textual context for this picture. What can this unremarkable yet unusual image tell us about Native book illustration and the formation of new ideas of Indigenous modernity, labor, and gender identity? How are Indigenous artisans, pressmen, and other laborers involved in book production using their roles to negotiate and shape responses to settler colonialism? In short, who was the “Indian of To-Day”?

Prof. Wigginton will also lead a seminar the day after the lecture, drawing on materials from the Fisher collection and developing themes from her talk.

The seminar is open to graduate students in BHPC’s participating units, including those not enrolled in BHPC, and to upper-year undergraduates in the BMS program. Registration is required as space is limited. To register, email by Friday, October 6.



Contact Information


Book History & Print Culture, Book & Media Studies Program at St Michael’s College


81 St. Mary Street, Toronto, ON M5S 1J4