Nebraska Authors

Frank A. Rinehart

AKA: F.A. Rinehart

Brothers Frank and Alfred Rinehart moved to Colorado sometime in the 1870s and found employment in a photography studio there. In 1881 they formed a partnership with the great western photographer William Henry Jackson. Frank was fascinated by Native Americans and is said to have learned much from Jackson. In 1885, Frank Rinehart married Anna Ransom Johnson, Jackson's receptionist. The couple then moved to Omaha where, in 1886 Frank Rinehart opened a photography studio in the Brandeis building in Omaha. He operated the Omaha studio until his death in 1928.

In 1898, Frank Rinehart was the official photographer for the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition, and the concurrent Indian Congress, held in Omaha from June to November 1898. The Indian Congress (August through November 1, 1898) was a fascinating affair, a kind of final re-union and last dance for Native Americans that had lived in the traditional ways and fought in the wars against the United States. It was managed by a Captain of the 8th Infantry, acting under the ultimate authority of the Secretary of the Interior, and even Geronimo, officially imprisoned at Ft Sill, was allowed to attend. Frank Rinehart and his assistant Adoph Muhr photographed over 500 individuals of the various tribes. The quality of their work has impressed generations of critics. It seems generally agreed that Rinehart managed to leave behind the by then somewhat stilted conventions of ethnographic portraiture, and any remaining temptation to portray Native Americans as savages, and capture with sympathy the dignity and individual personalities of his subjects. The sales of the Indian Congress photographs made Frank Rinehart wealthy and famous, and gave him the money to make a grand tour of Indian Reservations, where he made additional 1,200 portraits. His assistant Muhr later became an assistant for Edward S. Curtis.

MONA has a small Rinehart collection and a more extensive on-line biographical sketch of Rinehart
The Nebraska State Historical Society has Rinehart items, an on-line biographical sketch, and a collection of photographs from the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition.
The Boston Public Library has an extensive collection of images, available on-line.

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Places Lived

Omaha, NE

Author Of

  • Visual Work

Keywords

Native Americans--Photography of; Omaha Businesses; Photographers; Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition; Omaha (City)--History; 1898 Indian Congress

Associations

The NSHS sketch lists Rineharts wife Anna, and her brother-in-law George Marsden as Rinehart's successors in operating his photography studio, which continued in business until 1966.

Bibliography

Photogravures of the trans-Mississippi and international exposition, held at Omaha, Nebraska, June 1st to November 1st, 1898. 1899.
Rinehart's Indians. 1899. In HR (Note: Heritage Room copy courtesy of Jim McKee, cataloged as "Indians" but title/title page is "Rinehart's Indians.")

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