Natalie Curtis Burlin (Natalie Burlin)

Natalie Curtis Burlin

Ethnomusicologist.  Curtis studied at New York’s National Conservatory of Music and in Europe.  After a 1900 trip in which she visited Arizona’s Hopi Indian reservation, she decided to devote herself to collecting and preserving Native American music.  Transcribing lyrics with pencil and paper and recording the songs with an Edison cylinder recorder, her work brought her into conflict with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which discouraged Native Americans from practicing their customs, and she continued only after the intervention of her friend, President Theodore Roosevelt, who visited the reservation with her in 1913.  In 1905 Curtis published “The Songs of Ancient America”, three Pueblo corn-grinding songs.  In 1907 she published “The Indians’ Book”, a collection of songs and stories from 18 tribes with handwritten transcriptions of songs, artwork and photography.  In 1910, Curtis began collecting and transcribing African American music, and in 1918 she published “Negro Folk-Songs”, a four volume work of spirituals and other songs.  She also studied the music of African tribes and in 1920 published “Songs and Tales from the Dark Continent.”  In 1917 she married artist Paul Burlin, and they lived in France until her death in a traffic accident.  As a result of her work, songs were preserved that would otherwise have been lost, and her efforts influenced modern music by exposing a wider audience to the songs of Native Americans and African Americans. (bio by: Bill McKern)  Family links:  Parents:  Edward Curtis (1838 – 1912)  Augusta Lawler Stacey Curtis (1841 – 1934)  Spouse:  Paul Burlin (1886 – 1969)  Siblings:  Constance Curtis (1869 – 1959)*  George DeClyver Curtis (1870 – 1966)*  Natalie Curtis Burlin (1875 – 1921)  Bridgham Curtis (1876 – 1952)* *Calculated relationship


  • April, 26, 1875
  • USA


  • October, 10, 1921
  • France


  • North Burial Ground
  • USA

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