Curtis Legacy Foundation

Canyon de Chelly

Cañon de Chelly – Navaho Edward S Curtis 1904

Mission statement

The direct descendants of Edward Curtis and supporters are continuing the legacy of Edward S. Curtis’ photographs and ethnological studies of the Native American culture through exhibitions and educational opportunities of not only his work but of current Native cultures. It will curate and conserve Curtis photographs, artifacts, and other ephemera in order to maintain their historical significance. The Foundation will additionally commission projects that support its mission and give portion of its proceeds to benefit the continuation of cultural activities in Native American tribal nations.


Please be patient as we build this website to be the ultimate Edward Sherriff Curtis resource. We formed the foundation in January 2019 and are hard at work to bring you new and useful information about our beloved great-grandfather Edward Curtis. We filled for nonprofit status early April and have received an IRS determination letter granting us non-profit status as of January 22, 2019.

Piegan Encampment

Piegan Encampment 1900

Truth of the Matter


Simple facts that we find incorrect about Edward Curtis in other publications and across the internet…
~ Correct Spelling: Edward Sherriff Curtis (two “r”s and two “f”s in Sherriff)

~ Correct Date of Birth: February 19, 1868 (not the 16th as you find in many sources)

~ He did NOT die alone and destitute (he was living with his daughter Beth and died in the arms of his son-in-law, Manford Magnuson)

~ There are 723 portfolio photogravures, not 722 (one number was duplicated between sets)


Current Curtis Exhibitions


Harbor History Museum

4121 Harborview Dr.
Gig Harbor, WA 98332
Thursday, July 18, 2019
6 pm – 8pm
Presenting a special presentation of the documentary film, Curtis Comes Back To Seattle by Vaun Raymond


Special Exhibition Gallery
150 Central Ave
St. Petersburg, FL
April 6 to July 21, 2019

Curtis comes back to Seattle

Curtis Documentary ~ Curtis Comes Back to Seattle (90 min.) by Vaun Raymond


Curtis Comes Back To Seattle 


Join the descendants of Edward Curtis and the people he photographed as they re-trace Curtis’ footsteps in the Pacific NW during the 150th anniversary of his birth. This feature-length documentary includes interviews with author Tim Egan, as well as recently discovered sound recordings of Curtis’ children, sharing first-person accounts of life in the field with their father.


See more of Vaun’s work at

About the Foundation

The United States history books talk about the 1800s wild west and of the conquering of the Native Americans and their land. They tell a story of savagery and barbaric lifestyles of the Indigenous peoples of this continent. Edward Curtis didn’t believe it. He saw people of great spirituality, strength and worth and he was an artist with a calling. His calling was to tell the story through his images and ethnological work of Native American Indians before they were forced from their lands, their traditions and their languages outlawed. Through his adventures in the 19th and 20th centuries, he documented the Natives by taking over 40,000 photographs and collecting information on every aspect of the lives of over 80 different tribes, producing a 20 volume encyclopedia with accompanying portfolio photographs.


The direct descendants of Edward S. Curtis bring together the Curtis Studio collection of historical documents, photographs and artifacts passed down through the family from Curtis. It is their goal to bring together this treasure that has been scattered across the country into a common and protected collection. The CLF wishes to maintain this priceless collection, along with other donated materials, through rigorous inventory and conservatory work. If a print or document that came from Curtis himself gets destroyed or deteriorates beyond repair, it can never be replaced due to its origin. It is of the upmost importance that this historical collection be preserved. There is currently discussion of a dedicated Edward Curtis Museum in the future to house this collection, sharing the original photographs,  documents and artifacts with all of you.


Presentations and exhibitions will be offered to service groups, educational facilities, museums, libraries and other groups based upon mutual interest, on the legacy of Edward S. Curtis. These speakers will not only be outstanding experts on Curtis’ life and work, but will hold the utmost respect for him and his legacy. 


Edward saw Indigenous peoples as something special; a people worth preserving and celebrating their heritage. The foundation wishes to carry forward his ideal of acceptance of other people and cultures through knowledge and understanding. We want to bring attention to current tribal nation activities and events and to help celebrate this culture that did not vanish. 


The CLF will also commission projects that support the mission of this organization. The foundation’s first approved project is called the Descendants Project. The Descendants of Edward Curtis’ Native American photographs have a powerful voice to be heard – a message of survival. The Descendants Project tells their stories in their voice, linking their past and their present. John Graybill, direct descendant and great-grandson of Edward Curtis, along with his wife Coleen, are photographing and writing their stories and sharing them with others so that we all have a better understanding of what it means to be Indigenous people in these current times.