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Western Town Scene

A world away from Cooperstown, this unidentified town on the American frontier is shown in a remarkable documentary view by an unknown photographer. Despite the large number of people packed into the small image, there is a candid quality to the faces and poses–as well as a sense that this picture records an occasion of great importance. We may never know who these people are, or precisely why the photograph was made, but the sense of being present at a moment of history on the Western frontier has never been equaled in any Hollywood movie.

This photograph appeared in the Ken Burns production The West on PBS. It was exhibited in 1994 at the Detroit Institute of Arts in “Images of Identity: American Indians in Photographs.”

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