top of page


For anyone interested in doing original research on Edward Curtis or The North American Indian, here are the primary archives:

The Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, has 130 cyanotypes, silver prints, and photogravures of works taken by Curtis on Canada's West coast during 1910-1914. The cyanotypes are very rare because Curtis thought of them as field proofs and discarded most of them.


The Autry Center for the American West, Los Angeles, California. The Autry Center has an archive of correspondence between Edward Curtis and Frederick Webb Hodge, the editor of The North American Indian. The archive features letters exchanged between Curtis and Hodge on almost every aspect of the fieldwork and book publication, including detailed descriptions of the meticulous care Curtis took with his photoengraver to perfect the printed photographs.


The Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona. The Center has 122 steel-plated, copper photogravure printing plates originally used in the production of The North American Indian. Ten of the plates were used to produce the large photogravures included in the portfolios, and 112 of the plates were used to produce the smaller gravures in the text volumes.


Christopher Cardozo Fine Art, Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 1996 Curtis photography dealer Christopher Cardozo acquired 60 of Edward Curtis’ original negatives. This is one of the only remaining collections of his negatives known to exist.


The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, California. The Getty holds 10.3 linear feet of documents related to Curtis, including typescripts for Curtis' book Indian Days of Long Ago and his film In the Land of the Headhunters, plus several undated and apparently unpublished typescripts for lectures or writings. In addition, there are some documents related to the dispersal of his collection of Indian artifacts.


Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. Curtis and his crew used wax cylinders to collect more than 10,000 recordings of language, music, tribal lore, and histories of 80-plus tribes. Only 276 of the original cylinders are known to survive, and all are held by the Archives of Traditional Music at Indiana University


The Morgan Library and Museum, New York, New York. The Morgan Library holds the majority of the original documentation from The North American Indian project, including the funding agreement with J. P. Morgan, signed subscription agreements from 112 buyers of the books, selected correspondence between Curtis and Belle Green, and other documents related to the funding and expenses of the project. The Library also holds 342 lantern slides created by Curtis as part of his efforts to publicize The North American Indian.


The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, California. The Museum holds Curtis' original typewritten manuscript and research notes for The North American Indian, plus transcripts of oral histories from members of various tribes. They also hold 18 portfolios of various photogravure plates from the volumes.

The New Mexico History Museum and Palace of the Governors, Santa Fe, New Mexico, has a collection of original glass plate and nitrate negatives created by Curtis while in the Southwest. They are now digitizing their collection and plan to put it online in the near future.


The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts holds 108 unique platinum prints that Curtis originally exhibited in Boston in 1906. At the close of the exhibition, a Boston-area physician and philanthropist named Dr. Charles Goddard Weld purchased all of the large prints from the exhibition. He later donated them to the museum.


The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. The Smithsonian's National Anthropological Archives holds over 700 of Curtis' glass plate negatives and positives, including 432 images that have not been published. They also have hundreds of prints that Curtis submitted as part of the copyright process for images used in The North American Indian. The National Museum of the American Indian holds 184 copper printing plates and 96 photogravure proofs from the first seventeen volumes.  Finally, the Smithsonian holds several archives of documents related to Curtis' work, including his research on the Battle of Little Bighorn and many Indian baskets, blankets, and other objects collected by Curtis during his travels.


The University of Washington, Seattle, Washington. The Special Collections department of the University Libraries holds two separate Curtis archives. The first is a collection of correspondence, documents, and writings by others related to The North American Indian. The second contains miscellaneous photographs taken by Curtis, including portraits from his studio in Seattle, scenes from the reburial of Chief Joseph, ephemera related to his project, and postcards from images that were part of The North American Indian.

bottom of page