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Edward S. Curtis

American photographer Edward Sheriff Curtis has become synonymous with the Western frontier. However, he was born in Whitewater, Wisconsin to Reverend Johnson Asahel and Ellen Sheriff Curtis on February 16, 1868, the second of four children. The poor family moved from Wisconsin to Minnesota in 1874, where Rev. Curtis supported his family by selling groceries. The young Curtis quit school in the sixth grade to focus on his love of photography. By his early teens, he had already constructed his first camera, and after the deaths of his older brother in 1885 and father in 1887, the support of his family fell on his youthful shoulders. A near-fatal logging accident in 1890 changed his life and his career. During his long convalescence, Clara Phillips, who would later become his wife, cared for him. He decided that when he was fully recovered, he would go into business for himself.

When his brickyard enterprise failed, Mr. Curtis sold the business and invested in a Seattle photographic gallery. His natural wanderlust lent itself to landscape photography, and within a few years, Mr. Curtis became the Official Photographer of the Harriman Alaska Expedition of 1899. His professional reputation soon caught the attention of President Theodore Roosevelt, whose assistance he sought to secure financial patronage. At the time, the President was embroiled in economic disputes with some of the nation’s wealthiest men and was therefore in no position to ask for any type of financial favors. Nevertheless, Mr. Curtis became acquainted with banking magnate J. P. Morgan, whose deep pockets were instrumental in funding the young photographer's ambitous project to photograph the American West, specifically the Native American peoples, who first attracted his attention when he observed a Piegan Sun Dance while traveling through Montana.


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2013-06-26 06:49:59
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