Edward S. Curtis
Birth Date: February 19, 1868
Death Date: October 19, 1952
Artist Gallery
Born in 1868 near Whitewater, Wisconsin, Edward Sheriff Curtis became one of America’s finest photographers and ethnologists. Beginning in 1896 and ending in 1930, Curtis photographed and documented every major Native American tribe west of the Mississippi. His photographs had an immense impact on the national imagination and continue to shape the way we see Native life and culture. Edward’s father, Reverend Johnson Curtis, had returned from the Civil War penniless and debilitated, and young Curtis and his three siblings grew up in poverty. The family moved to Minnesota soon after his birth, where his father continued his vocation as an itinerant preacher. His formal education ended in sixth grade. Curtis often accompanied his father on long treks, often by canoe, to visit his congregation, and these journeys may have been the inception of his love of the outdoors. His interest in photography started in his teens when he built his own crude cameras and taught himself photography from self-help guides. Employing many photographic techniques over his lifetime he captured some of the most beautiful images of the Indian people ever recorded. He originally thought it would take 5 years, but it took 30. He sought to document a society that was fast approaching extinction and his vision was prophetic, as by 1930, the year his first volume was published, few visible vestiges remained of the people who has once been the continent’s sole in habitants.