|The Curtis Family ~ Home Life|
Born in 1868 in Whitewater, Wisconsin, Edward S. Curtis grew up in poverty. His father was in ill health and never fully able to support the family. After his father died, Edward took a series of odd jobs, ultimately settling on photography as a career. He taught himself from books and even made his own camera.
"We always said he had no home life at all."
When Edward Curtis married Clara Phillips in 1892, she joined him in his increasingly successful Seattle studio. They had four children.
"Daughters of well-to-do families . . . believed that having their portraits made by Edward Curtis . . . gave them glamor."
"He became determined to escape from his father's world, from a life of grinding physical labor and failure. He was going to ... make something of himself."|
~ An unnamed relative describing Edward S. Curtis, date unknown
"Bright, well-read, a good conversationalist, [Clara, Edward's wife] shared Edward's love for this great, scenic land of the Northwest—but not his interest in photography."
~ An unnamed relative, about 1900
Ultimately, as Curtis worked on The North American Indian, his long absences and infrequent financial support led to a bitter divorce. Curtis' children nonetheless remained loyal and active supporters until his death in 1952."One of the greatest examples of business energy and perseverance to be found in Seattle today."
~ Argus magazine, December 14, 1896