This collection contains materials relating to Edward S. Curtis' 1907-1908 investigation into the Battle of Little Bighorn. The collection contains Curtis' notes; transcriptions of eyewitness accounts of Crow scouts Curley (as told to Chas. F. Roe, published in Army & Navy Journal, March 10, 1982) and White Man Runs Him and Cheyenne chief Two Moons; and letters from General Charles A. Woodruff, who was assigned by the U.S. Army to corroborate Curtis's findings in 1908. Also includes a 1905 letter from Francis E. Leupp, Comissioner of Indian Affairs, to Curtis
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.
NAA MS 2000-18
See NAA vertical file under "Curtis, Edward S." for more information.
Photograph made from a framed print depicting American Indians at groundbreaking ceremonies for Rodman Wanamaker's proposed National Memorial to the First Americans on Staten Island, on February 22, 1913. Included in the image are Cheyenne chief Wooden Leg, Cheyenne chief Two Moons, Rodman Wanamaker, Crow chief Plenty Coups, Crow chief Medicine Crow, Crow Indian White Man Runs Him, and Oglala Sioux chief Jack Red Cloud. The original photograph may have been made by the Bain News Service.
In 1913, department store owner Rodman Wanamaker (1863-1928) sponsored a project that brought American Indians to New York for the groundbreaking of a proposed National Memorial to the First Americans on Staten Island; however, the monument was never built. Wanamaker also sponsored three photographic expeditions between 1908 and 1913, intending to document the "vanishing race" of American Indians.
Local Call Number(s):
NAA Photo Lot R82-55
Location of Other Archival Materials:
Photographs collected by Wanamaker can be found in the National Anthropological Archives in Photo Lot 64.
Additional photographs of this event can be found in the Library of Congress in the George Grantham Bain Collection.
The collection is open for research.
Access to the collection requires an appointment.
Photo lot R82-55, Copy photograph of Memorial to First Americans groundbreaking, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution