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About this collection

The government of the United States was responsible for extensive examination of the Trans-Mississippi West in the 19th Century.  Many of the surveys were intended to collect scientific data as well as determine the suitability of the land for settlement, mineral exploitation, or other use.  During much of this time, before photography had become common, much of the illustration for these reports was created in the form of sketches and painting, which was reproduced by lithography.  Even after photography had become common in the mid-19th century, lithography was still the preferred manner of reproduction, and some illustrations in federal documents were lithographs made from photographic images.

The lithographs in this collection are reproduced from United States government documents in the collections of Eastern Washington University.  This collection does not include lithographs from the twelve volume set of reports on surveys for prospective railroad routes to the Pacific.  Those images are contained in the set of railroad survey art.

 
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