Selling the North American Indian:
The Work of Edward Curtis

Created by Valerie Daniels, June 2002

Becoming Edward Curtis | Site Map | The Vanishing Edward Curtis

Promoting Edward Curtis, 1907-1916

Over almost three decades of working on The North American Indian, Edward Curtis became quite adept at promoting his work. In addition to securing support of men such as Theodore Roosevelt and J.P. Morgan, Curtis embarked upon a promotional program aimed at selling subscriptions and raising additional money for the project.

Curtis did not only promote his work to raise additional money. If he had, we would not have many of the promotional materials because his efforts at raising money were by and large unsuccessful. Curtis was faced with the dilemma of relying on wealthy subscribers to create a complete record of the North America Indian tribes, but wanting his work to be available to the general public. He resolved this dilemma by presenting his work in alternate venues for those who could not have afforded a subscription.

Below are a series of links that explore several of the methods Curtis used to promote his project. Included are subscription lists, such as the one pictured right, advertisements for the twenty volumes, a series of articles written for Scribner's Magazine, a recreation of A Vanishing Race, Curtis's "picture-musicale," several story-books that Curtis collaborated on, and the motion picture In the Land of the Head-Hunters.

Subscription form for The North American Indian
In Makepeace, Coming to Light

These promotional materials display Curtis's genius at marketing himself and his work. He was not only a photographer and ethnographer, but became a novelist, motion picture director, and a sell-out act at Carnegie Hall. They also provide a window into the lives of his audience--who are these wealthy Americans subscribing to the work, who is reading about it in Scribner's, going to see the pictures and listen to Henry Gilbert's musical compositions at Carnegie Hall, or going to the theater to see In the Land of the Head-Hunters?



Scribner's Articles



Motion Picture

The Vanishing Edward Curtis

Becoming Edward Curtis | Site Map | The Vanishing Edward Curtis