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The Frost Trade Bead Collection Online photograph of detail of bead card

In 1848, Stephen Allen Frost, a 28-year old merchant, set out from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas with pack horses and perhaps a small wagon to peddle beads and broadcloth among the Plains Indians as an itinerant merchants. This enterprise lasted longer than that of other traders because of his business acumen and that of his son, Dan, and their personal longevity.

Stephen A. Frost & Company beads were made in Venice, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. The collection of 71 bead sample cards and beaded Native American objects were donated to the Illinois State Museum in 1941.

The ISM is has created an online photo gallery of this collection.

The narrative accompanying the digitized collection features short biographies of Stephen Frost and his son, a description of the bead trade with Native Americans, and descriptive captions of eleven beaded objects.

Resources include a reading list and Web sites on beading and Native Americans. Activities for students and teacher lesson plans are hands-on crafts of millefiori bead-making with polymer clay, loom beading with seed beads, and sewn seed beads on cloth.

This narrative and gallery expand the already rich Illinois-specific Native American Web modules of the Museum
( http://www.museum.state.il.us/muslink/nat_amer/index.html).


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