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- About this Collection
- Arrangement and Access
- Edward Curtis and the Background of the Collection
- Selected Bibliography
- Related Materials
- Collection Scope and Description
- Tribe Index
- Rights And Restrictions
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Collection Scope and Description
The Prints and Photographs Division Curtis collection consists of more than 2,400 silver-gelatin, first generation photographic prints--some of which are sepia-toned--made from Curtis's original glass negatives. Most of the photographic prints are 5" x 7" although nearly one hundred are 11" x 14" and larger; many include the Curtis file or negative number within the image at the lower left-hand corner.
Images from each of the geo-cultural regions documented in The North American Indian are represented in the collection: the Pacific Northwest, New Southwest, Great Basin, Great Plains, Plateau Region, California, and Alaska. Included are both studio and field photographs. A large number are individual or group portraits, and many subjects are identified by name. Other subjects include traditional and ceremonial dress, dwellings and other structures, agriculture, arts and crafts, rites and ceremonies, dances, games, food preparation, transportation, and scenery.
Acquired by the Library of Congress through copyright deposit from about 1900 through 1930, the dates on the images reflect date of registration, not when the photograph was actually taken. About two-thirds (1,608) of these images were not published in the North American Indian volumes and therefore offer a different and unique glimpse into Curtis's work with indigenous cultures. The original glass plate negatives--most of which had been stored and nearly forgotten in a basement of New York's Morgan Library--were unwittingly dispersed during World War II. Many others were destroyed and some were sold as junk. Although the Prints and Photographs Division does not hold any of the few existing original glass negatives, copy negatives for many of the photographic prints have been made by the Library's Duplication Services unit.