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(McCord collection only)
The On-line Collection
Edward Sherrif Curtis fonds (P443)
1896-1930. - Graphic material (8 volumes) : photogravures ; b&w.
Administrative History - Biographical Sketch:
Edward Sherrif Curtis was born in February 1868 in White Water, Wisconsin. Curtis's interest in photography started in his teens when he built his own crude cameras and taught himself photography from self-help guides. In 1891 Curtis purchased a share in a photographic studio that became known as Rothi and Curtis. After a year, he formed a new partnership with Thomas Guptill as both photographers and photogravers. Curtis's reputation as a photographer grew. He invented gold and silver processes that later became "goldtones" and "silver tints." The partnership was desolved in 1897, after which the studio was known as Edward S. Curtis, Photographer and Photograver.
From 1896 to 1930 Curtis photographed and documented every major Native American tribe west of the Mississippi, taking over 40,000 negatives of 80 tribes. Most of this work was published in The North American Indian, a 20- volume set and accompanying portfolios that consisted of 272 total editions.
In 1906 Edward S. Curtis was asked by President Theodore Roosevelt to photograph Geronimo and five other Native American chiefs on the lawn of the White House. In 1919 Curtis's wife Clara filed for divorce and received as part of the settlement the studio and all of Curtis's negatives. She continued to manage the studio with her sister, but Curtis destroyed all of his glass negatives at this time.During his forties and prior to his death, Curtis was involved in studio photography and the film industry. Curtis died of a heart attack in 1952 in Los Angeles.
Scope and Content:
The Edward Sherrif Curtis fonds consists of the first 8 of 20 volumes of The North American Indian. Curtis's lithographs deal with Native American cultures.