A Danish Photographer of Idaho Indians: Benedicte Wrensted

A Danish Photographer of Idaho Indians: Benedicte Wrensted

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With A Danish Photographer of Idaho Indians, Joanna Cohan Scherer rescues from oblivion a remarkable photographer—Benedicte Wrensted—who greatly contributed to the visual legacy of the Northern Shoshone, Lemhi, and Bannock (“Sho-Ban”) American Indian tribes.

This beautifully designed volume reproduces a substantial number of Wrensted’s photographs, along with a detailed description of each image, including the names of the subjects, their biographical data, and an ethnographic analysis of their Native attire.

Wrensted, a Danish immigrant, opened her photographic studio in Pocatello, Idaho, in 1895 and worked as a commercial photographer there until 1912. Not only did white residents of Pocatello frequent her business, but so did many Sho-Bans from the neighboring Fort Hall Indian Reservation, who came singly and with their families to have portraits made.

Sometimes her Indian clients wore traditional Native clothing and sometimes western-style suits or dresses, but Wrensted allowed the choice to be their own.

A Danish Photographer of Idaho Indians redresses decades of neglect by restoring both Wrensted and her Indian subjects to a place in history—Wrensted as a distinguished photographer and her clients as named persons.

Today, prints of many of Wrensted’s photographs survive, proudly on display in The Sho-Ban Museum and in family homes.

About the Author:

Joanna Cohan Scherer is the Anthropologist/Illustrations Researcher for the multivolume Handbook of North American Indians, Smithsonian Institution. She resides in Silver Spring, Maryland.