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Edward S. Curtis's The North American Indian Photographic Images

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The North American Indian by Edward S. Curtis is one of the most significant and controversial representations of traditional American Indian culture ever produced. Issued in a limited edition from 1907-1930, the publication continues to exert a major influence on the image of Indians in popular culture. Curtis said he wanted to document "the old time Indian, his dress, his ceremonies, his life and manners." In over 2000 photogravure plates and narrative, Curtis portrayed the traditional customs and lifeways of eighty Indian tribes. The twenty volumes, each with an accompanying portfolio, are organized by tribes and culture areas encompassing the Great Plains, Great Basin, Plateau Region, Southwest, California, Pacific Northwest, and Alaska. Featured here are all of the published photogravure images including over 1500 illustrations bound in the text volumes, along with over 700 portfolio plates.
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The Library of Congress presents these documents as part of the record of the past. These primary historical documents reflect the attitudes, perspectives, and beliefs of different times. The Library of Congress and Northwestern University do not endorse the views expressed in these collections, which may contain materials offensive to some readers.

Special Presentation
Edward S. Curtis in Context

Understanding the Collection

About the Collection

Sensitive Images and Text

Selected Bibliography

Related Resources

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Working with the Collection

How to Order Reproductions

Building the Digital Collection

Copyright and Other Restrictions


Home page for Edward S. Curtis's "The North American Indian" [digital edition] at Northwestern University*

The digitization and presentation of these materials by the Northwestern University Library was supported by an award from the Library of Congress/Ameritech National Digital Library Competition. Links marked * are to web pages mounted at the awardee institution. The full text of Curtis's publication, including all images shown on this site, has been mounted by Northwestern University Library, with funding from IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Services).

The source materials for this collection are housed in the Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, Northwestern University Library.* Inquiries about these materials should be directed to the library at Northwestern University. For information about reproducing material see Sources for Reproductions.

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