Biographical / Historical
Edward Sheriff Curtis (1868-1952) was a photographer, known for his images of Native Americans and of the American West. In preparation for his volume on the Sioux for his 20 volume publication, The North American Indian, he investigated the details of the Battle of Little Bighorn, also known as Custer's Last Stand (June 25, 1876). He first visited the battleground in 1905 and interviewed many of the Sioux participants. He returned in 1907, and with the help of three Crow scouts who were with George Armstrong Custer that day, Curtis retraced Custer's steps on his final day. Curtis submitted a report to President Theodore Roosevelt and army officials, and upon their request, chose not to publish his findings out of deference to Custer's widow, who was alive at the time. Shortly before his death in 1952, Curtis passed on his manuscript to his son Harold with the request that he find a home for his papers. Thirty-six year later, shortly before his own death, Harold donated his father's manuscript to the National Museum of American History. Curtis' manuscript was later transferred to the National Anthropological Archives.