Edward S. Curtis

Turn of the century photographer Edward S. Curtis is known for his striking, sepia-toned photographs documenting the faces of the American West. His interest in capturing portraits of Native Americans spawned a lifetime of projects, the largest of which, The North American Indian, contained more than 2,200 original images and 4,000 pages of anthropological text and transcriptions. Curtis’ projects were largely supported by both banking magnate J. P. Morgan and president Theodore Roosevelt, with whom Curtis formed close relationships. Born to humble beginnings, Curtis was raised in rural Wisconsin and began his lifelong fascination with photography after re-fashioning his father’s stereopticon lens. After marrying and establishing a successful studio in Seattle, Curtis won a national portrait contest in 1904, which caught the attention of President Roosevelt.

In his later years, Curtis also began to work with motion picture cameras, making several films documenting Native American lifestyle, one in particular, In the Land of the Head Hunters, became the first feature-length film whose cast entirely Native American. His works are held in collections throughout the United States as well as rare volumes of Curtis’ magnum opus, The North American Indian.