In order to promote The North American Indian to potential high-end clients, Curtis published elegant prospectuses for publication. The Curtis Census has identified six examples produced by the North American Indian, Inc., between 1907 and 1919, and a seventh produced by the Lauriat Company in 1935. Only the 1935 prospectus has a publication date; dates given here for the earlier ones have been deduced by library catalogers based on other information in the prospectuses themselves.
Most of the examples we have identified share some common elements. All but the 1919 prospectus contain Theodore Roosevelt’s one-page foreword dated October 11, 1906. Likewise, all but the 1919 prospectus contain a general introduction written by Curtis, usually five pages in length but shortened somewhat to take up only three pages in the 1935 example. Most contain examples of Curtis’s photogravures just as they appear in the text volumes; only the first 1907 prospectus does not.
Six of these prospectuses measure 9.5” x 12.5” (the size of the text volumes); the 1919 work is smaller.
All text in this section is by Janet Steins, former collections librarian, Tozzer Library, formerly the library of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University. Janet is an Associate Editor of the Curtis Census.
The first 1907 prospectus we know of begins with the title page from Text Volume 1. Added are selected pages from the text presenting ethnographic information such as musical notation and vocabularies; the index and an appendix page are sampled. There are no photogravures.
This copy of the prospectus is in the collection of Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts (call number HOU TRC f R041.1.C492n). It is published here with the permission of the library.
Five years later Curtis printed another prospectus for The North American Indian. He noted that volumes one to eight were ready for delivery and that the remaining volumes would be coming at the rate of two per year for the next six years.
This copy of the prospectus is in the University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, Edward S. Curtis Archives. It is published here with the permission of the library.
Curtis issued a second prospectus, also in 1907 or perhaps shortly thereafter, using the title page from Text Volume 2. It contains five testimonials from early subscribers, a single example of a page of text (Apache History) and three photogravures.
This copy of the prospectus is in the collection of The John Work Garrett Library, The Sheridan Libraries,
John Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA. It is published here with the permission of the library.
The 1915 prospectus was issued when volumes one to ten were available. It contains a list of 110 “Individuals, Libraries, Colleges and Institutions now possessing this monumental work,” and the 23 testimonials from the 1908 prospectus though in a new layout which greatly reduced the space required to print them.
This copy of the prospectus is in Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge Massachusetts (call number HOU TRCF Roosevelt R041.1.C942n2). It is published here with the permission of the library.
This prospectus includes 23 personal testimonials from subscribers, the latest being dated May 2, 1908, and one photogravure.
This copy of the prospectus is in the collection of Houghton Library, Harvard University (call number HOU PF (hrz) Typ 970U.00.001 no.5). It is published here with the permission of the library.
This prospectus is an outlier, measuring only 6” x 9.5”. An embossed figure of a horse and rider (about 3 inches high) graces its cover, and it has a two-page description of The North American Indian by an unidentified writer instead of Curtis’s own description that appeared in all the other prospectuses known to us. This prospectus also contains a list of a selected “few  of the Patrons, Libraries, Colleges and Individuals now possessing this distinguished work,” and seven new testimonials.
This copy of the prospectus is in Houghton Library at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts (call number HOU TRC Roosevelt R041.1C942n3). It is published here with the permission of the library.
This is a prospectus offered by the Charles Lauriat Company after it purchased the assets of The North American Indian, Inc. in 1935.
This copy of the prospectus is in the collection of the Helmerich Center for American Research at Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, Oklahoma. It is published here with the permission of the museum.