The Mississippi River has long been central in the economic and social life of the United States and in those centuries there was considerable public curiosity about what life was like along the river, from the rough frontier towns to the sophistication of New Orleans and St. Louis.  The most common sources of information for life on the Mississippi that were available to the public were the engravings and lithographs which were widely distributed throughout the country and overseas.

These prints give us a privileged look at the past through eyes of those alive at the time and so are important in our understanding of the history and life of the river before 1900.  Many of these prints were based on first-hand observations and were intended to provide accurate visual documentation of scenes along the Mississippi River, while others were more intended to convey a subjective depiction.   Whatever their intent, these prints provide a fascinating look at the Big Muddy and environs.