Get Involved


Please consider this invitation to participate in our Plains Indian Ledger Art (PILA) Digital Publishing Project by publishing digital images of your Plains ledger drawings on our website. You may access our website at:


Our website is set up for researchers who are interested in studying and writing about Plains Indian Art Ledgers. The website serves as a convenient tool both for the researcher so that she or he does not have to go to the museum to look at the physical copy of the ledgers, and for the museum by creating less demand from the researchers. The website also indirectly serves as a conservation tool for these pieces since once the images are up, there will be less of a need for people to get their hands on the originals. We are extremely interested in having the important examples ledger art in your collection in our project. If you, as the ledger art custodian, agree to its inclusion, PILA will create the digital images or bear the cost of producing them, and a complete set of which will be retained by the custodian. I am attaching a full project proposal that will give you more details about how we do this.


Since curators and registrars at public institutions often ask about security and intellectual property issues for digitized images, let me summarize some of the ways that the PILA project deals with these issues. The project asks for non-exclusive permission to place digital images in the PILA database for access through the PILA web site. No other use of these images is allowed without specific authorization from the custodial institution. If your ledgers are currently unbound or the ledger book can be safely opened flat, the master files are created on a professional flatbed scanner in uncompressed TIFF format at 600, 800, or 1200 pixels per inch (ppi) or higher (current PILA equipment can provide uninterpolated resolutions as high as 1600 ppi). If the ledger book cannot be laid flat it is photographed with a professional digital camera. Color calibration and correction will be done at the time of the digitization. Copies of the original digital images and all derivatives created by PILA will be provided to the ledger book custodian.


Once in the database, the image used for public access is a JPEG at 2400 pixels on the largest side at 75 dpi. This file is never directly available to the user of the PILA web site. The images viewable in the Plate View measure approximately 500 (long direction) pixels at 72 dpi resolution and therefore are not close to sufficient quality for reprinting or publishing. In addition, a javascript disables mouse button pop-up menus that enable easy downloads. The image files that appear in the "zoomer" window and enable ten levels of detail only allow a small portion of the full file to be seen at a time in each open window, and are subject to the same restrictive javascript. Although a user could take screen shots manually of each section of a ledger image from the zoomer window and then painstakingly crop each file and piece the details together, the result would still be only an enormous, low-quality, 75 dpi resolution version of the file. If there are other questions about the imaging process or issues that need to be resolved, please do not hesitate to bring them to our attention.

Digital Printing

One item of interest is not fully described in the overview document. At present, the Plains Indian Ledger Art Digital Publishing Project (PILA) funds the digitization of ledger book and the development and operation of the web site through donations. Users of the web site may also order high-resolution color prints of ledger images offered in various formats: note cards, study prints, and Limited Edition prints and portfolios. The printing business that fulfills online orders, Tribal Print Source, is part of Tribal Digital Village, an enterprise established through a grant from Hewlett-Packard to the Southern California Tribal Chairmenís Association, in collaboration with UC San Diego. If we proceed with the digitization of your ledger art, you may at any time choose to authorize the online ordering of digital images of the manuscript. You or your institution could then choose to receive half of the profit from online sales, or elect to let such profits remain with PILA to help with the costs of further digitization of Ledger art and to develop the web site. If so desired, sales of these items could also be restricted to a museum or gift shop, rather than sales to the public from the PILA web site.

Please contact:

Ross Frank, Associate Professor
Department of Ethnic Studies, UCSD
9500 Gilman, Dept. 0522
La Jolla, CA 92093-0522
Office 227 Social Science Building
(858) 534-6646 OFFICE
(858) 534-3276 DEPARTMENT
(858) 534-8194 FAX

Ewers Ledger: PLATE 025