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M-210: Edward S. Curtis Collection

DATE: 1907 - 1930

CREATOR: Curtis, Edward Sheriff (1868-1952)

SCOPE: The North American Indian (1907-30) portfolios is an important visual resource for the study of travel, the American West, Native Americans, as well as the photographic arts. Views include the Southwest, the Kwakiutl Tribe on the Pacific Coast; and traditional Native American life.

HISTORY & PROVENANCE: Edward Sheriff Curtis (1868-1952) was not only one of America's first important photographers, but an important ethnographer, as well. Shortly before the turn of the century, Curtis began a thirty-year quest to document in words and pictures the last surviving traditions of the North American Indian tribes. The result was a massive twenty-volume encylopedia--each volume accompanied by a large portfolio of photogravures--published from 1907 to 1930. Entitled The North American Indian, only 272 sets were printed and sold to subscribers due to insufficient demand and appreciation at the time of Curtis' important role in preserving the historic traditions of the American Indian. The Mercantile Library was a subscriber and thus owns one of those sets.

EXTENT: Set of 20 volumes of text; set of 20 portfolios nearly complete (lacking volume 7) with approximately 2500 photogravures

ACCESS: This collection is available for on-site use only in the Rare Book and Manuscripts Reading Room. Some of the material in Special Collection M-210 may be photocopied, digitally scanned or photographed, subject to condition. For collections marked limited access, researchers are advised to contact the library at least three business days in advance of their visit to submit a request to view the physical material.

Researchers are advised to call ahead concerning changes in hours due to University intersessions and holidays. The St. Louis Mercantile Library is located on levels one and two of the Thomas Jefferson Library building.

In observance of security procedures, certain services may not be available shortly before the daily closing time.

Preferred Citation: When citing the material from this collection, the preferred citation is: From the Special Collections of the St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri – St. Louis.