Looking at the West: Admission Card for George Catlin’s Indian Gallery, 1838

Printed admission card for Catlin's “Indian Gallery.” Samuel L. Southard Papers (C0250).

Printed admission card for Catlin’s Indian Gallery. Samuel L. Southard Papers (C0250), Manuscripts Division, Rare Books and Special Collections.

From the papers of New Jersey politician, lawyer, and governor Samuel Lewis Southard, an 1838 printed admission card for George Catlin’s Indian Gallery on display at the “Wig-Wam” on Pennsylvania Avenue:

This Card admits Hon. S. L. Southard to Indian Gallery, in the “Wig-Wam” on Pennsylvania Avenue, during the season, free–and particularly solits his attendance on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, the 25th and 26th insts.  Geo. Catlin.  April 23, 1838.

For a detailed finding aid to the Samuel L. Southard Papers, see: http://findingaids.princeton.edu/collections/C0250.

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).

Walt Whitman’s Railroad Journey West Goes Online

Manuscript notes made by Walt Whitman during a four-month railway journey through the West have been digitized and are now available online in the Princeton University Digital Library: http://pudl.princeton.edu/objects/pk02cc02d


—plains—plains—plains / the dug-outs / antelope / the Prairie-Dog / emigrant wagons camped for the night / The vast stretching plains hundreds of miles area / the buffalo grass / the yellow wild flowers / the clear, pure, cool, rarified air (over 3000 ft above / sea level) / the dry rivers.

According to his notes, Whitman began his journey on 10 September 1879 and arrived back on the East Coast on 5 January 1880.  The fragments record his first impressions from the “vast stretching plains” of Kansas to the “wooded & rocky land” of Pennsylvania. The journey filled him with “exhaustless recollections,” as he describes in the final leaves. Yet Whitman was unable to extend his trip beyond Colorado, and he noted plans for additional travel to the West Coast:


“I did not go through to San Francisco, though I hope to do so one of these days.  Indeed I have a good deal of travel laid out; (among the rest Tennessee and Alabama).”

The notes were donated to the Princeton University Library by Philip Ashton Rollins, Class of 1889 and founder of the Western Americana Collection.  The donation was noted in the first issue of the library newsletter, Biblia, which included a full transcription of the fragments: http://libweb5.princeton.edu/visual_materials/pulc/biblia_v_1_n_1.pdf

Rollins collected a wide range of materials relating to the development of the American West, and two of his principal collecting passions were overland narratives and cowboys.  Whitman’s poetic fragments beautifully capture both:


“The cowboys (‘cow / punchers’) to me / a wonderfully interesting class—clear & swarthy complexion—with / broad brimmed hats—their / loose arms always slightly / raised & swinging as they ride—their / splendid eyes—(Fra Diavolo  / and his men in the opera) / –a herd of horses / numbering 200.”

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.