David Cusick’s Sketches of Ancient History of the Six Nations

David Cusick's Sketches of Ancient History of the Six Nations... Tuscarera Village: Lewiston, Niagara co., 1828.

David Cusick, Sketches of Ancient History of the Six Nations… Tuscarora Village: Lewiston, Niagara co., 1828.

David Cusick’s Sketches of Ancient History of the Six Nations, first published in 1826 or 1827, is likely the earliest account of Native American folklore to be written and published in English by a Native American author. The work was registered for copyright in the Southern District of New York on January 3, 1826, in which “DAVID Cusick, of the said District hath deposited in this office the title of a Book, the right whereof he claims as Author.” As Phillip Round states in Removable Type: Histories of the Book in Indian Country, 1663-1880, Cusick’s history thus marks the “the first Native-authored, Native-printed, and Native-copyrighted text.” (Round, 150) The library recently acquired a copy of the rare second edition of 1828, which Cusick expanded and embellished with four illustrations (shown below).

The sketches provide “a written account of the Iroquois oral traditions during the creating of the universe, the foundation of North America, the early settlement of the continent, and the origin of the Five Nations (later six).” (Kalter, 13)    A brief preface to the edition notes Cusick’s desire for a published account of the history of the Six Nations and the troubles he encountered in undertaking the work:

I have been long waiting in hopes that some of my people, who have received an English eduction, would have undertaken the work as to give a sketch of the Ancient History of the Six Nations; but found no one seemed to concur in the matter, after some hesitation I determined to commence the work; but found the history involved with fables; and besides, examine myself, finding so small educated that it was impossible for me to compose the work without much difficulty.  After various reasons I abandoned the idea: I however, took up a resolution to continue the work, which I have taken much pains procuring the materials, and translating it into English language.  I have endeavored to throw some light on the history of the original population of the county, which I believe never have been recorded.  I hope this little work will be acceptable to the public. David Cusick. Tuscarora Village, June 10, 1825.


Cusick, David. Sketches of Ancient History of the Six Nations: Comprising First–A Tale of the Foundation of the Great Island, (Now North America) the Two Infants Born, and the Creation of the Universe. Second–A Real Account of the Early Settlers of North America, and Their Dissentions. Third–Origin of the Kingdom of the Five Nations, which Was Called a Long House: the Wars, Fierce Animals, &c. Tuscarora Village: Lewiston, Niagara, Co., 1828. Call Number: 2013–In Processing.

Kalter, Susan. “Finding a Place for David Cusick in Native American Literary History.” MELUS 27.3 (2002): 9-42.

Round, Philip. Removable Type: Histories of the Book in Indian Country, 1663-1880. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010.

Royster, Paul (ed.). David Cusick’s Sketches of Ancient History of the Six Nations (1828). Faculty Publications, UNL Libraries. http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1027&context=libraryscience (accessed November 24, 2013).

Salt Lake City: Picturesque and Descriptive

Salt Lake City

Pratt, George. B. Salt Lake City: Picturesque and Descriptive. Sold Only by Subscription. Neenah, WI: Art Publishing Company, 1889. 2013 – In Processing.

The Princeton Collections of Western Americana recently acquired a complete, nine-part set of Salt Lake City: Picturesque and Descriptive, published by the Art Publishing Company in 1889.  The view books present sixty-four black and white photographs and are notable for their inclusion of unusual views of local establishments and factories along side the more common views of architectural monuments and city streets. Accompanying the picturesque views of the Salt Lake Temple, the Utah Exposition Building, and the Grand Opera House, one finds several descriptive interior views, such as the Retail Dry Goods Department of the Zion’s Co-operative Mercantile or the Cutting and Fitting Room of the  Z. C. M. I. Shoe Factory.  Below is a select gallery of images from various parts.

Rand McNally Pocket Maps

Rand McNally Pocket Maps, 2013-In Processing.

Rand McNally Pocket Maps, 2013-In Processing.

The Princeton Collections of Western Americana recently acquired 36 nineteenth and twentieth-century folding pocket maps of the American West (primarily published by Rand McNally). With the exception of Texas and Hawaii, every state West of the Mississippi is represented, including Alaska, and the dates range from 1891-1930.

Rand McNally Indexed Pocket Map & Tourists' and Shipper's Guide, ca. 1923.

Rand McNally Indexed Pocket Map & Tourists’ and Shipper’s Guide, ca. 1923.

The pocket books contain indexes of counties, cities, towns, and villages, as well as post offices, railroads, electrical lines, and telegraph and mail services.


The Santa Fe Southwest Enchanted Land

Along with the maps and indexes, the pocket books also have advertisements for tourists, such as The Santa Fe Southwest Enchanted Land advertisement shown above, and multiple advertisements for products targeting the weary traveler (and likely the traveling salesman).


Revive: Clothes shiny and greasy? Take a Shine-Off cake wherever you go. It won’t spill!


Refresh: Chances are your face is sore and tender, but “Don’t Blame Your Razor.”


Recover: Mentholatum, a healing cream that also quickly soothes tired, throbbing feet.


Transcend: The Master Key, “a message of such transcendental importance that every reader of this map, whether man, woman or child, should answer it immediately.”

To find these and other Rand McNally holdings in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, see: Rand McNally and Co. 

Drake Bros. Studio Photograph Collection

A recent addition to Princeton’s Manuscripts Division and Collections of West­ern Amer­i­cana, the Drake Bros. Studio Photograph Collection contains photographs and related manuscript material that provides a visual record of Silverton, Oregon, and surrounding areas in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The collection contains nearly nine hundred photographs from the Drake Bros. Studio, most with the studio stamp on the back along with detailed manuscript notes by June D. Drake (1880-1969), including dates, identification of individuals, and the names of buildings and streets (many of which no longer exist in Silverton).  Photographs dated before 1900 are primarily copies of images taken by William L. Jones and other noted Oregon photographers. The collection may be the working files for Drake’s unpublished history of Silverton and environs.  Manuscript material includes notes and newspaper clippings on the history of Silverton and Silver Falls State Park, as well as the Drake and Schoenfeld families.

About June D. Drake and Drake Bros. Studio

Photographers June D. Drake and his brother Emory Roy Drake founded Drake Bros. Studio in 1900 in Silverton, Oregon. Four years later the brothers bought out the business of W. L. Jones, a noted 19th-century Oregon pioneer photographer, and added his negatives to their inventory. The brothers operated together until 1908, when a fire destroyed their studio; very few images were salvaged. June Drake continued to photograph in a new studio until his retirement in 1960.  June was also a local historian interested in documenting Silverton history through his images as well as written essays.  Several of his local history pieces were published in the Silvertonian and Silverton-Appeal newspapers.

Silverton Falls State Park

Drake was also a vocal advocate for the preservation of Oregon’s natural beauty, and perhaps his greatest achievement was his contribution to the establishment of Silver Falls State Park.  Drake photographed all ten of the park’s falls from as early as 1902 and created many travel brochures, pamphlets, and postcards to raise awareness around Oregon and the Pacific Northwest of the need to protect this area from logging. Now covering more than 9,000 acres, Silver Falls is the largest state park in Oregon, and one of the most popular trails for photographers visiting the park is the Trail of Ten Falls.

A detailed description of the Drake Studios Photograph Archive can be accessed via the Princeton University Finding Aids site: Drake Bros. Studio Photograph Collection.

Biographical and descriptive text throughout is adapted from the inventory description provided by Kol Shaver and edited by Valerie Addonizio.  Finding Aid and folder inventory written by Jameson Creager, Class of ’2015.

Powell’s Canyons of the Colorado

Frontispiece portrait of J. W. Powell, Canyons of the Colorado.

“On my return from the first exploration of the canyons of the Colorado, I found that our journey had been the theme of much newspaper writing. A story of disaster had been circulated, with many particulars of hardship and tragedy, so that it was currently believed throughout the United States that all the members of the party were lost save one. A good friend of mine had gathered a great number of obituary notices, and it was interesting and rather flattering to me to discover the high esteem in which I had been held by the people of the United States. In my supposed death I had attained to a glory which I fear my continued life has not fully vindicated.”  –J. W. Powell, Canyons of the Colorado.

On August 29, 1869, John Wesley Powell and the remaining members of a small expedition emerged from the Grand Canyon after nearly 100 days of hardship and peril. Three months earlier, on May 24, they had embarked on a journey down the uncharted waters and canyons of the Green and Colorado rivers hoping to successfully navigate one of the last unknown territories in the United States.  Powell, a Civil War veteran whose right arm was amputated after the battle of Shiloh, soon found widespread acclaim and recognition for his remarkable achievement.  His success and fame led to government funding for a second trip in 1871-72, this time to map the rivers and canyons, a task which was abandoned in the first expedition in favor of survival.  In 1875, Powell published an illustrated account of the expeditions, Explorations of the Colorado River…, which he later revised and enlarged as Canyons of the Colorado (1895), a copy of which was recently acquired for Princeton. The work was privately printed in Meadville, Pennsylvania.

Canyons of the Colorado provides numerous accounts and illustrations of the perils involved in the expeditions, such as running the rapids and saving a man from falling into a canyon by lowering down a pair of britches as a rope:

Powell was also a professor of natural science (primarily self-taught), and his life-long interests in geography and archaeology are witnessed in the Canyons of Colorado as well. Powell’s reports significantly contributed to the scientific understanding of the Colorado River system and the formation of the canyons.  His work also included important studies of the Native American tribes of Arizona, Nevada, and Utah (Powell later served as a special commissioner of Indian affairs in Washington, D.C.).

Princeton also houses several stereographs from Powell’s expeditions, most of which are attributed to either E. O. Beaman or John K. Hillers.  (For an online simulation of stereo views, see the Getty Museum’s How a Stereograph Works  or create your own simulation with the New York Public Library’s Sterogranimator.)

1,500 of Princeton’s stereographs have been digitized and can be viewed in the Princeton University Digital Library’s Western Americana Collection:


For those related to Powell’s various expeditions, see:


Select Bibliography:

Fowler, Don D. “Powell, John Wesley,” American National Biography Online. Feb. 2000. Access Date: Tue Dec 25 2012 16:44:42 GMT-0600 (CST)

Powell, J. W. Canyons of the Colorado. Meadville, PA: The Chatauqua-Century Press, 1895.