The 1837 Sketchbook of the Western Fur Trade


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By Rex Allen Norman
Detailed examination of the work of Alfred Jacob Miller. Miller was the only artist known to have painted and sketched the participants and events of the pre-1840 Western fur trade. Hired by William Drummond Stewart to record Stewart's journey through the West, Miller traveled with Stewart recording the daily lives of these men, including an American Fur Company caravan, Fort Laramie (then known as Fort William), and the rendezvous in 1837 between the fur men and their suppliers from the East. Miller recorded simple daily tasks and routines, along with details of the trappers' dress and accoutrements. From these works, now scattered far and wide, Rex Allen Norman has gleaned useful information on the fur men and redrawn these details for the reader. Where helpful, Norman has included Miller's notes, and he has identified the works from which his sketches are taken.