Perfect for the historian, the student, or the lover of
American Indian History! Digitally captured for your eternal
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.
This digital collection presents the 2228 illustrations
from The North American Indian by Edward S. Curtis. Many of the
striking images from The North American Indian have been
reproduced widely, especially since the 1970s. While there is
controversy about how Curtis romanticized American Indian culture, the
intention of this digital collection is to present all of the published
images in their entirety, with comprehensive identifying data including
plate numbering, dimensions, and the original captions by Curtis. It is
hoped that the viewer may get a sense of the content of the rare
original volumes, in order to develop an informed understanding of
Curtis and his project.
The North American Indian
(1907-1930), by Edward S. Curtis, was published in a limited edition and
sold by subscription. The lavishly illustrated volumes were printed on
the finest paper and bound in expensive leather, making the price
prohibitive for all but the most avid collectors and libraries.
Subscriptions sold for about $3,000 in 1907; the price rose to about
$4,200 by 1924. Although the plan was to sell 500 sets, it appears that
Curtis secured only about 220 subscriptions over the course of the
project. In 1935 the assets of the project were liquidated, and the
remaining materials were sold to the Charles Lauriat Company , a rare
book dealer in Boston. Lauriat acquired nineteen unsold sets of The
North American Indian, thousands of individual prints, sheets of
unbound paper, and the handmade copper photogravure plates. They lay
forgotten in the bookstore's basement until their rediscovery in the
1970s, which marked the revival of interest in Curtis' haunting images
of American Indians.
The set owned by Northwestern was donated by J.P.
Morgan, Curtis' sponsor. It consists of twenty volumes in original
bindings containing text and illustrations and twenty portfolios of
individual plates reproduced by the photogravure process.
Each volume measures 12 inches high, 10 inches wide
and about 3 2/5 inches thick. Each is bound in half leather, that is,
the spine and the four corners of the front and back covers are covered
in a high quality brown Levant morocco leather. The covers themselves
are laminated binders board; the central panel on each board is covered
with a heavy tan cloth. The text block within each volume measures 11
inches high, 9 1/2 inches wide and 2 to 2 1/2 inches thick; the text
itself occupies an area 8 1/8 inches high by 5 inches wide on each page.
Each volume has in gold foil stamping on the spine a simple line
decoration with the set's title at the top, the author, volume number in
roman numerals, tribe(s) in the volume and the publication date of the
volume at the foot of the spine. Volumes 1-14 were bound by H.
Blackwell, while volumes 15-20 were bound by Whitman Bennett, NY, as
indicated at the top of the front free flyleaf.
There are around 75 photogravure plates in each bound
volume, with image sizes averaging 5 1/2 by 7 1/2 inches; each
accompanying portfolio holds around 35 loose photogravure sheets, with
image sizes averaging 12 by 16 inches. In total, there are 1506 plates
in the bound volumes and 722 plates in the portfolios, for a total of
This CD contains high quality scans of the collection
in its entirety. The only software you need to view this
collection is a jpg viewer, which should already be on your computer.
This hard to find volume is perfect for those looking to take a peek
into the lives of American Indians at the turn of the 20th century.
(just a reminder, you are not purchasing that actual original volumes,
as that would cost you thousands of dollars, you are getting a CD!)
Here are the titles of all the volumes: