Our aggregate archive contains nearly 2,500 unique media assets, in addition to the scholarly and contextual materials. This makes it a really wonderful place to explore early 20th century photography, ideas of race and nation, native american cultural presentation and artifacts, and technology, as well as the life and work of Edward Curtis. It also means that this is a really large digital resource. Our narrative content provides one approach to moving through a small subset of the collections gathered here. We also wanted to provide users with ways to approach the material that were both more traditional and disruptive. To that end, we've created a number of paths that you can use to explore the collections. The most traditional of these is the Book Structure Path, which simply reproduces the order of Curtis' The North American Indian 20 volume set. This path only features the images included in Curtis' work, not the material or sonic culture that is also available.
Other more disruptive paths are designed to cut across The North American Indian collection and include material items that Curtis collected during his life, as well as the wax cylinder recordings that we've obtained from the Archives of Traditional Music at the University of Indiana Bloomington. Some of these paths are group people or kinds of items together, for example the Tribe paths. Other paths are more interpretive, like the Keyword paths, which explore thematic groupings like gender, work, and costume. These are designed to stimulate questions and aid in exploration. Our collection, while large, is not comprehensive - Curtis took thousands of pictures and made nearly 10,000 wax recordings. So treat these as small sample sets of the larger total corpus. You can create your own paths by doing keyword searches yourself - the search function operates on the metadata included for each item, including a description by Curtis in some instances. Titles, dates of publication, and location are all fair game for most of these items.