THE CURTIS CENSUS
The Curtis Census, a project of the Curtis Legacy Foundation, is an effort to identify and locate all known sets and volumes of The North American Indian. Published by Edward Curtis from 1907 to 1930, The North American Indian was planned to be a limited edition of 500 sets. Due to the extremely high cost of the publication and the prolonged publication cycle, it’s thought that no more than 300 complete or partial sets were finally printed. This census will determine, as accurately as possible, the actual number of complete or partial sets that were printed and their present locations.
The census regularly reaches out to libraries, museums, academic institutions, auction houses, book dealers, Curtis scholars, independent researchers, collectors, and others in an attempt to catalog all known complete and partial sets of the publication. See our database below for the latest information.
Confirmed, numbered sets: 244
Confirmed sets, not located: 51
Known sets signed by Curtis: 51
Confirmed, numbered, and located sets: 192
Known sets with duplicate numbers: 10
Known sets signed by Roosevelt: 23
The Curtis Census database if officially locked as of March 31, 2020. We are writing a summary report of our findings which we plan to publish this summer.
Below is the census data that we have collected thus far. We are in the process of double-checking all of our records as part of our report writing. Note that the number at the bottom left does NOT indicate how many sets exist. Only those sets that say “Yes” in the second column (Existence Confirmed) are known to exist or once existed. The other set numbers are mentioned in historical records, but some of these records are known to contain inaccuracies.
Note: This database is best viewed on a desktop or laptop computer. Some functions may not be available on the mobile version. Scroll over the "i" in a column name for information about that field.
For easier viewing on a tablet or phone, tap on "View larger version" at the bottom right of the database window.
Do you know of a set that is not listed above or that does not have the correct location listed? If so, please contact us.
Your donation for this project will go to the Curtis Legacy Foundation.
Who is involved in the census?
This census was started in November 2017 by Tim Greyhavens, a Seattle photographer, writer, and researcher. Tim is the Chief Editor of the census project. He is also a board member of the Curtis Legacy Foundation.
Judith Hayner, formerly the Executive Director of the Muskegon Museum of Art, is the Associate Editor of the census. She brings important knowledge about The North American Indian to the census because of the museum's long history with the publication.
We are also assisted by Janet Steins, former Director of the Tozzer Library at Harvard University. Currently, Janet is searching for any records left by the original printers of The North American Indian.
The census was inspired by the work of Bob Kapoun of Santa Fe, New Mexico, who first cataloged many of the library holdings of The North American Indian in the early 1990s. Bob is a valuable contributor to this current effort, and we're very grateful for his support and his guidance.
Our sincere thanks go to the following individuals, who, through their encouragement and assistance, have helped make this census possible:
Bob Kapoun, The Rainbow Man, Santa Fe, NM
María Isabel Molestina-Kurlat, The Morgan Library and Museum, New York
Jodee Fenton and Debra Cox, Seattle Public Library
Leslie Overstreet, Smithsonian Institution
In addition, our gratitude goes to the dozens of rare book and special collections librarians around the world who responded to our inquiries for additional information about the sets of The North American Indian in their collections. This census would not be possible without their expertise and willingness to help.