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Course & Subject Guides

Edward S. Curtis and The North American Indian, Spring-Summer 2018: The Great Plains, 1904-1908

This library guide is an overview of the Archives & Special Collection exhibit on Edward S. Curtis and The North American Indian.

A Chronology of the Life of Edward S. Curtis: New York, J. Pierpont Morgan, and Theodore Roosevelt, 1906

                 Map of Alaska and map legend    Map of continental U.S.

Map of North America: Showing the research areas, cities, and rail routes important in Edward Curtis's Life by Eric Elias. In Lawlor, Laurie. Shadow Catcher: The Life and Work of Edward S. Curtis. New York, [1994].

J. Pierpont Morgan

J.P. Morgan

Portrait, J. Pierpont Morgan, 1902.

Courtesy of Library of Congress.

Curtis device


  • JANUARY 24.  Meets with J. Pierpont Morgan at his office at 23 Wall Street in New York on January 24, 1906.  Morgan provides financing in the sum of $75,000 to support the fieldwork for the North American Indian project.  He suggests that Curtis write an accompanying text.  Curtis accepts and also agrees to sell subscriptions for the complete twenty-volume set with five-hundred sets proposed, at a price of $3,000 for a set printed on Dutch Van Gelder paper, and $3,850 for a set printed on Japanese tissue paper.  Curtis, in addition to forgoing a salary, arranges to give Morgan the first twenty-five published sets along with five-hundred original prints as a repayment for his investment.    
  • SPRING.  Sets up an office at 437 Fifth Avenue in New York to sell subscriptions.  Curtis hires William E. Myers, a writer and linguist, to do ethnographic field research, and Frederick Webb Hodge, the anthropologist and Native American scholar at the Smithsonian Institution, who agrees to serve as the editor for the published venture.
  • SUMMER.  Curtis writes to President Theodore Roosevelt from Hopi Land asking if the president will write the foreword for Curtis’ photographic and ethnographic enterprise titled The North American Indian.

Curtis device