Daniel Boone

Daniel Boone coverDaniel Boone
Daugherty
1939

Submitter: In Daniel Boone, Native Americans are variously described as savages, demons, “rats in the night,” “infesting the woods,” cat-eyed, and “as doomed as the buffalo.” White skin or white racial identity is frequently painted as superior to other races, for example: “The great landlords were demanding costly land titles and bringing in slave labor so that it was a disgrace for a white man to work with his hands” (page 25). The author’s description of the causes and nature of Native American/settler conflicts during the mid-18th to early 19th century is problematic and historically inaccurate. The scenes of violence in this book (and there are many), are pretty harrowing, especially considering it was published for children. And the illustrations visually encapsulate all of these issues, complete with a drawing of a sambo-like figure accompanying a river barge trip. While this book is an interesting historical marker and could well serve as a springboard for an adult discussion of the ways in which American frontier history, the treatment of Native Americans, and racial identity were regarded at the time of this book’s publication, it does not hold with the mission of our public library children’s space. I am trying to steer our collection more towards diversity, equity, and inclusion, and this title does not match that goal.

Holly: This was found in a public library youth collection, which is definitely NOT the best place for it!

Daniel Boone excerpt

Daniel Boone excerpt

Daniel Boone excerpt

Daniel Boone image

Daniel Boone image

Daniel Boone image

Daniel Boone image

Daniel Boone image

9 comments

    1. Interesting! In the comments, someone noted that the Newbery winner from 1934, Dobry, is hard to find — but I have a copy! I think it must have been my mother’s, since my father would probably have been too old for it by then. I read it as a child — I will have to seek it out again.

  1. Truly dreadful. The pictures alone would have frightened me. The artwork reminds me of Thomas Hart Benton, but I suppose the author was just copying a popular style of the times.

    Dismaying to learn that this got the 1940 Newbery Award.

  2. The art alone ought to put off kids born after, I dunno, 1970. To today’s eyes, it’s kind of nightmarish.

    Never mind the giant amounts of racism.

    @PollyQ: I was thinking that art looked like WPA murals, so thanks for the link.

  3. I work at a Daniel Boone named library so of course we own a copy of this. We have it in the children’s reference collection so at least it can’t be checked out.

    1. They can still look at it, though, and read the racist text and the frightening pictures.

      Maybe move it to the adult reference section?

  4. Trigger Warning stuff alright, but I agree that the spooky sometimes cringe-making racist artwork is of high quality. Another creepy aspect of it is that he seems to have eroticised the settler women with their See-Thru Puritan costumes… It certainly tells you a lot about the artist/author and US racism of the 1930s. Oddly enough, Boone and his contemporaries probably had rather more respect for non-white people, especially the hunting & fighting skills of Native Americans.

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