Natalie Curtis Burlin was an American ethnomusicologist who acquired several Kwakiutl songs from Charles James Nowell for inclusion in her best-known work, The Indians' Book (1907). Although her quest to record and respect indigenous music resembled the self-imposed mission of photographer Edward Curtis, they were not related. Born in New York City on April 26, 1875, she studied music in New York and Europe. A trip to Arizona in 1900 inspired her to gather Aboriginal music. Securing the support of President Theodore Roosevelt, a family friend, she gained the removal of a ban on indigenous music and published Songs of Ancient America (1905), a representation of three Pueblo corn-grinding songs. This led to her major work, The Indians' Book, drawn from 18 North American tribes including the Kwakiutl. Afterwards she helped coordinate the first appearance of African American musicians at Carnegie Hall in 1914. She married painter Paul Burlin in 1917 and produced the four-volume Hampton Series Negro Folk-Songs (1918-19), followed by Songs and Tales from the Dark Continent (1920). She was killed in Paris by an automobile accident on October 23, 1921.


Curtis, Natalie (editor). The Indians' Book (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1907, 1923, 1934; New York: Dover Publications, 1950, 1968).

[BCBW 2005] "First Nations"