As part of The Seattle Public Library's commitment to preserving and sharing Seattle's culture and history, we've digitized the photographs from all 20 volumes of Edward S. Curtis' "The North American Indian." Of the 20 volumes in the series, three cover Washington state-based tribes:

Volume 7: Yakima, Klickitat, Salish Interior Tribes, Kutenai

Volume 8: Nez Perce, Walla Walla, Umatilla, Cayuse, Chinook

Volume 9: Salish Coast Tribes, Chimakum, Quilliute, Willapa

About "The North American Indian"

In 1906, Edward S. Curtis received funding from J.P. Morgan to begin work on "The North American Indian" a 20-volume set of photographs and text documenting Native American tribes throughout the western United States.  At the time, Curtis ran a photography studio in Seattle.      

We've taken over 700 of Curtis' portfolio images and made high-resolution scans from the Library's two sets of "The North American Indian." One was part of the Library’s original subscription to the series, and the other was donated by Harriett Bullitt.

Local Correspondence

 The collection also includes Curtis' letters to a local librarian, Harriet Leitch. Beginning in 1948, Curtis exchanged a series of letters with Leitch, a former librarian at The Seattle Public Library and then a volunteer at the Seattle Historical Society. The Historical Society had inherited a set of "The North American Indian," and Leitch wrote to Curtis to learn more about the making of the work. Curtis' letters to Leitch include local history moments, such as his memories of climbing Mount Rainier, participating in the 1899 Harriman Expedition to Alaska, photographing Princess Angeline (Chief Sealth's daughter) and more.

For more information on the Edward S. Curtis collection, visit the online collection.