But if archives bring meaning to the nation, it is ultimately national consensus which in turn confers upon archives their meaning and mystique (Panitch 47).
Edward Curtis' photographs are displayed in the Claiming Authority exhibit in Williams College's Special Collections. The photograph seen below is named "Wife of Howling Wolf." Curtis' goal, as explained in his obituary, was to capture "Indian history" through his photographs taken in the early 20th century (NYTimes 1952). Edward Curtis' work sponsored by J.P. Morgan and admired by former President Theodore Roosevelt add not only a status of credibility, but also a status of remembrance. The credibility of both of these men is not lost in time. People now still know who they were. One of Panitch's archival lessons really resonated with me as seen through Curtis' work. Both J.P. Morgan and President Roosevelt were able to confer "meaning and mystique." Is that the sole reason Curtis' work should be considered credible and authoratative?
Description of Edward Curtis' work which can be found in the Claiming Authority Exhibit in the Special Collections at Williams College.
so crucial were archival records that sovereigns maintained them in society (Panitch 33).
As seen in the description above, Curtis' was known for having manipulated his work to fit that of the idea and message he was trying to relay to his audience. But who was his audience? I would argue not the Native Americans he was portraying. However, Curtis' work was shared and did influence people's perceptions of Native Americans. Panitch's second quote resonates with me because even before when archives were kept a mystery from the "lay" person, that inaccessibility to specific archives continues today. Which makes me think, what does it mean that Curtis' work, now only viewable in archives, marked a huge way of thought about people in the past when it was published. Shouldn't more people have access to how stereotypic portrayals of Native Americans began to form?
Claiming Authority: Do Authenticity, Reliability, and Authoritativeness still matter?. Williams College Special Collections. Williamstown, MA.
Curtis, Edward. 1907-1930. Wife of Howling Wolf Photograph. Williams College Special Collections. Claiming Authority, Williamstown, MA.
Edward S. Curtis. 1952. New York Times. Accessed 19 February 2018. http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ma02/daniels/curtis/obituary.html
Panitch, Judith. 1996. Liberty, Equality, Posterity?: Some Archival Lessons from the Case of the French Revolution. The American Archivist 59 (1). 30-47.