Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Course & Subject Guides

Edward S. Curtis and The North American Indian, Spring-Summer 2018: Puget Sound and Alaska, 1898-1899

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: The Beginning of Perception in Puget Sound & Alaska, 1896-1899

                 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].

Princess Angeline and the Beginning

1896

  • Photographs Princess Angeline, the daughter of Chief Síahl, at the Second Avenue studio.  Kick-is-om-lo, or Princess Angeline, is the first and only surviving child of Chief Síahl, chief of the Duwamish and Suquamish, after whom the city of Seattle is named.   Curtis learns of the Tulalip Reservation on Puget Sound north of Seattle, and begins making photographic forays to the reservation.
  • May 31.  Princess Angeline dies on May 31, 1896.   

1897

  • Begins his solo photography career as, “Edward S. Curtis, Photographer and Photoengraver.” 
  • Leads the historic ascent by the Portland, Oregon climbing club, Mazamas, of Mount Rainier east of Seattle, Washington.

Photo of Edward Henry Harriman sitting in his office

Portrait, Edward Henry Harriman in his office, 1899. 

Courtesy of Wikipedia.org.

Curtis device

1898-1899

1898

  • Meets and rescues George Bird Grinnell, Clint Hart Merriman and their party of scientists and naturalists lost on a climbing expedition on Mount Rainier.  Merriman and Grinnell invite Curtis to accompany them on their exploring expedition to Alaska, funded by Edward Henry Harriman, as the expedition’s photographer.  
  • Leads a Mazamas climbing expedition to Mount St. Helens in the state of Washington, where he speaks with and photographs two Indians drying bark on the mountain.
  • Enters the photographs of Princess Angeline, Homeward, The Clam Digger, and The Mussell Gatherer in an exhibition sponsored by the National Photographic Society.  Homeward is awarded the Grand Prize in 1898.
  • Conceives of the idea to photograph all of the Indian tribes of the United States and Alaska west of the Mississippi River, and begins to put a plan for the project in place.

1899

  • MAY 31-JULY 30.  Curtis embarks on the Harriman Alaska Expedition as the expedition’s photographer.  Aboard the steamship the George W. Elder, Curtis works alongside naturalists, scientists, artists, and writers.  Harriman teaches him how to operate a wax cylinder audio recording device, which Curtis uses to record the native peoples they meet, including a Tlingit chant recorded outside Sitka.  The relationship with Edward and Mary Harriman provides Curtis with an entrée to important social and business contacts in Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C.  He also forms a lasting friendship with the anthropologist and writer George Bird Grinnell, who invites Curtis to witness the Piegan Sun Dance ceremony in Montana the following summer.  

Map of the Harriman Alaska Expedition Route

Route of the Harriman Alaska Expedition. 

Courtesy of pbs.org.

Curtis device