Arts & Entertainment

PBS: Book offers portraits of Native lives though Edward Curtis





"JEFFREY BROWN: I think a lot of people will know some of the famous paragraphs, but not the scope of the project.

TIMOTHY EGAN: Right.

JEFFREY BROWN: Give us a sense of how big this was and what he was after.

TIMOTHY EGAN: Yes. I do think a lot of people know something about Curtis.

But it ended up being the largest traffic odyssey in American history, more than Mathew Brady, the Civil War photographer. He started out wanting to do Native American life that was still somewhat intact. He thought it might take him five years.

It took him more than 30. He took 40,000 photographs. And he took these on glass plate negatives, 14-by-17-inch plates that he carried around in his pack and on horseback.

He recorded more than 10,000 native songs. He ended up doing 2,200 pages of text telling life stories, mythologies, diets, habits, sex lives. It's documentaries of lives and nations and people. And one man did it all."

Get the Story:
Book Offers Portrait of Prolific Photographer Who Captured Native American Lives (PBS 11/22)

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Blog: Edward Curtis captured humanity of the first Americans (10/12)