Selling the North American Indian:
The Work of Edward Curtis

Created by Valerie Daniels, June 2002


Part of Curtis's agreement with his benefactor, J.P. Morgan, was that he would publish The North American Indian himself. This meant that Curtis had to sell subscriptions to the volumes in order to cover the printing costs, as well as any field work in excess of the $15,000 per year granted by Morgan. Although Curtis planned to sell 500 subscriptions, only 227 were ever sold.

The subscription forms, such as the one on the right, let his patrons know the quality of the work they would be receiving. In addition to listing some of the more prominent subscribers, the form had an endorsement from Theodore Roosevelt stating,

"that it would be a veritable calamity if a vivid and truthful record of the life of The North American Indian were not kept, and that the publication of such a record is not only a service to our own people but to the world of scholarship everywhere..."
There was then an invitation to subscribe, extended in this case to a Mrs. Mary K. Rindge.

Click on the image to view at a higher resolution
Subscription form for The North American Indian
In Makepeace, Coming to Light

Below is another promotional brochure that was printed to solicit subscribers. This brochure includes a fuller list of subscribers and description of the work, and an endorsement from Roosevelt along with several other endorsements and professional reviews. Click on the thumbnails to view them at a higher resolution.

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