Thommy Ford Reads

A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library

The Photographs of Edward S. Curtis

Edward_S_Curtis_Before_The_Storm_ApacheI enjoyed listening to Timothy Egan as he spoke last summer at the American Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago about his writing Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis.  What would be great now is to see the original prints or the twenty volumes of The North American Indian, his encyclopedic work on the native tribes of the continent.

My original intent as I started this post was to review The Art of Edward S. Curtis: Photographs from The North American Indian by Tom Beck. Beck introduces readers to the story of Edward Curtis and includes a selection of Curtis’s photographs. I think the book is particularly useful because the author explains how Curtis was sometimes more interested in producing art than in accurate ethnographic information. Curtis was totally dedicated to the cause of the American Indians but he could be misled by his subjects and spread misinformation.

Looking at the book, however, I felt a bit disappointed in the quality of the reproductions. Of course, it is a nearly 20-year-old inexpensive gift book, but the paper is not of high quality. I wondered if I could find better images on the web. And I could. In fact, Northwestern University has digitized Curtis’s great set The North American Indian. You can read the whole thing or just look at the pictures online. Go to

So, I’ve gotten what I wished. I can look at it all. Will I find the time?

Actually, I would still like to hold and look in an actual print volume, too.  –  Review by Rick

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This entry was posted on March 20, 2014 by in Book Review, Photography, Website Review.
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