Julia Moss was born in New York City. She attended Hunter College there, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in classical languages and a master’s degree in music and drama. In 1913, she married Ted Buttree.
Julia first encountered Seton at a lecture in 1918 and was introduced to him after the lecture, initiating a friendship and a collaboration that would last their lifetimes. Soon thereafter, Julia joined Seton’s staff and worked as his assistant. She assisted with organizing his schedule and his woodcraft activities. She was his close assistant and editor as Seton worked on his colossal Lives of Game Animals project beginning in 1919. During this period, Seton reduced his travel and lecture schedule to facilitate the completion of the massive work.
Julia accompanied Seton on the Woodcraft League Expedition in the summer of 1927, which began in North Dakota and the Standing Rock Reservation, and took them through South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. They toured most of the Pueblos in New Mexico. They met with prominent people like Edgar Hewett, Charles Lummis, Gerald and Ina Cassidy, and Mary Austin, along with many leaders from surrounding Pueblos. On this trip, she collected much information for her later books, Rhythm of the Redman, The Pulse of the Pueblo, The Indian Costume Book, and, with Seton, The Gospel of the Redman.
Julia accompanied Seton on several trips as he scouted locations for his new project, Seton Village, ultimately selecting a location just outside Santa Fe, New Mexico. When Seton moved to Santa Fe in 1930, Julia and her husband, Ted, accompanied him. Julia would become the dean of the College of Indian Wisdom, which conducted classes and other programs at Seton Village. In 1934, Julia and Ted Buttree were divorced, although they remained friends. In 1935, following Ernest’s divorce from Grace, Ernest and Julia married.
Julia worked alongside Seton on lecture tours, books, and other activities. She served as the editor of The Totem Board, a magazine published by the Woodcraft League. She wrote several books independently and with Seton. In 1938, the Setons adopted a newborn daughter named Beulah (later known as Dee). Beulah accompanied them on the lecture circuit, sometimes appearing on stage. Pablita Velarde, who became a world-renowned artist, accompanied them as a nurse on one trip through the Eastern United States.
After Seton died in 1946, Julia remained a larger-than-life character in Santa Fe, despite her diminutive physical stature. She maintained Seton Castle as a monument to his memory, hosting many guests until 1967 when she donated most of Seton’s library, art, animal specimens, and other artifacts to the Boy Scouts of America. BSA built the Seton Memorial Library at Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico, to hold this vast collection. Julia died in Santa Fe in 1975.
The following books were written or edited by Julia Seton. In addition to these books, she edited or contributed to several books by Seton, including several editions of the Birch-Bark Roll.