The Diaries of William DeLoach, A West Texas Farmer

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“Years are the milestones that tell us the distance we have traveled…” These words, the first to appear in the diaries of William G. DeLoach (http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/ttusw/00161/tsw-00161.html), were not a platitude. DeLoach noted daily events in his diary from 1914 to 1964, often documenting the mundane life of a West Texas farmer, but at times exploring the emotional and philosophical depth of a man whose daily accounts spanned two World Wars, the Great Depression, and the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

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This is the first full page of his diary, written Wednesday, March 24th, 1914. It is a simple series of notes. He visited Ralls and Crosbyton, Texas, signed a cotton contract, and saw one of his laborers complete the maize harvest. Such entries comprise the bulk of his notes.

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This page includes October 29th, 1929, also known as Black Tuesday, when the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began. Yet the crash’s effect took its time crossing the country, so all he described that day was cutting feed until a rain began that lasted well into the night.

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The Depression, and more importantly the Dust Bowl, haunt the background of his diaries, but DeLoach coloring his stories of day-to-day life. On July 23rd, 1937, however, its effects came to the fore. “I hurt all day. Not with much heart. I can’t do any thing with any heart with such surroundings. I even can’t write any more. My (?) are all shot. Just to be the paying teller and nothing more is bad.” But then, as always: “Bill finished the feed plowing.”

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Some entries are punctuated by tragic or amusing local news. Early November 1937 saw a man lose an arm in a cotton gin: “That is bad…. They take too many chances.” The next day, DeLoach heard about an acquaintance who was “pinched for drunk.” He mused, “Too bad to get sauced in Sudan [Texas] if one is a stranger. Homeguard can.”

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“This is March 28th, 1964. My first entry was made on March 28th, 1914.” Infirm “in more ways than one,” William DeLoach set down his pen. “Goodbye, Diary. You have been lots of help in lots of ways.”

(An abbreviated version of the diaries was edited by Janet M. Neugebauer, former archivist at the Southwest Collection, and published as Plains Farmer: The Diary of William G. DeLoach, 1914-1964.)

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The Sowell Collection Conference – 2017

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Thursday April 20th through Saturday the 22nd, the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library will host the Sowell Collection Conference. Created through the generous support of former Texas Tech University Regent James Sowell, the Sowell Family Collection in Literature, Community, and the Natural World contains the personal papers of some of the most prominent writers on the natural world. The Conference will include scholarly papers and panels on many of the Sowell writers, a handful of which are featured below. The Conference is free, and open to the public.

Marc Reisner was an environmental writer and advocate. He is best known for Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water (1986), a National Book Critic’s Circle Award finalist. It describes the role of water rights and water use in the history and development of the Western United States. Reisner has partnered with The Nature Conservancy and served as a staff writer and communications director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. He continued his activism and writing until his death in California in July 2000. His final book, A Dangerous Place (2004), was published posthumously.

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Lisa Couturier is an essayist, poet, and animal advocate. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in Journalism and a certificate in Women’s Studies, then earned a Master’s degree from the Gallatin School at New York University. Her book The Hopes of Snakes explores the wild in urban spaces and the connections between the human and the nonhuman. Couturier’s work has appeared in Orion, Isotope, the American Nature Writing series, and National Geographic’s Heart of a Nation, among other publications. Her essay “Dark Horse” won the 2012 Pushcart Prize, and was nominated for the Grantham Prize for Environmental Writing. Her collection of poems, Animals/Bodies, won the 2015 Chapbook Award from the New England Poetry Club.

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Andrea Peacock is a Montana journalist covering Western politics and environmental news, and is the former editor of the Missoula Independent. She wrote Libby, Montana: Asbestos and the Deadly Silence of an American Corporation, and co-authored The Essential Grizzly with her husband Doug Peacock, another Sowell author. Her work has appeared in Mother Jones, High Country News, Denver Westword, Austin Chronicle, and Counterpunch.org. In 2010 she received a fellowship from the Alicia Patterson Foundation for her work on oil and gas development in communities of the Rocky Mountain West.

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Paul Gruchow was raised on a small, subsistence farm near Montevideo, Minnesota. He is the author of six published books on subjects ranging from the culture of the tall grass prairie, to what we teach (and fail to teach) rural children–work widely acclaimed for its lyrical prose and eloquence. A respected and inspiring educator, Paul’s writer-in-residence involvements included numerous institutions, among them the University of Minnesota and the Lake Superior Studies Program. He won the Minnesota Book Award for three books, including Boundary Water: The Grace of the Wild and Grass Roots: The Universe of Home. He also edited The Worthington Globe–an award winning newspaper.

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Starting at age 20, Paul Hawken dedicated his life to sustainability and changing the relationship between business and the environment. His practice has included starting and running ecological businesses, writing and teaching about the impact of commerce on living systems, and consulting with governments and corporations on economic development, industrial ecology, and environmental policy. His books include: Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Social Movement in History Is Restoring Grace, Justice, and Beauty to the World,  Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (co-authored with Amory Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins), The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability, Growing a Business, and The Next Economy.

The French Book of Hours: Tradition and Innovation – An Exhibit at the Southwest Collection

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We love our exhibits here at the Southwest Collection, and so we’ve installed a new one showcasing items from our Rare Books Collection! Entitled “The French Book of Hours: Tradition and Innovation,” it displays the titular volumes of personal devotion that divided and classified time according to the liturgical cycles of the medieval church. Of course, the displayed items are replicas–the originals are far too valuable to expose to damaging UV light for any length of time. Even so, they’re a sight to behold.

Books of Hours were popular for several centuries, and were commissioned by and created for specific lay owners. Each is therefore unique, especially in regard to their artwork.  Still, many contained common elements, which often included the Office of the Dead. Two of the Books of Hours we have on display were created for Jean, Duc de Berry (1340-1416): the Grandes Heures (1409) and the Très Riches Heures (begun ca. 1412, finished ca. 1489), and it is their examples of the Office of the Dead upon which we’re focusing here.

Consisting of a collection of the church’s official prayers, the Office of the Dead seldom contains more than one illustration. Rather, it traditionally depicts a funeral service in which a priest or some other religious figure recites prayers over the dead. The image at the beginning of this blog comes from the Très Riches Heures, and depicts twelve monks seated around a coffin beneath a table decorated with the Duc de Berry’s coat of arms. The woman standing in the doorway may not be simply a nun, but the Duchesse de Berry herself mourning the death of her husband.

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The images above and below are armorial images of a wounded swan and a bear holding the Duc de Berry’s flag. They are embedded within the border of the page of the funeral service in the Grandes Heures. Occurring in the context of the Office of the Dead, they could be homages to the early deaths of the Duke’s sons.

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Here is another image from the Grandes Heures: an illustration of the Mass for All Souls. It is representative of the traditional depictions of the Office of the Dead, in this case providing a view into an interior where monks pray over a coffin covered in black cloth.

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The page above is replete with illustrations of historical and liturgical events. But what would a one of these pages be without the customary representation of death? Below the central miniature, which contains a corpse in an open casket, is a scene intended to warn the viewer that death will eventually take us all. That’s heavy stuff, but because this was illuminated in the years not long after repeated visitations by the Black Death, this was not an uncommon motif.

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This final illustration is a unique departure from the conventional images more commonly accompanying the Offices of the Dead. For one thing, it depicts an exterior burial scene, complete with excavated and partially decomposed corpses. It is possible that this image represents Duc de Berry’s personal relationship with death.

Our Rare Books collection is impressive, and these Books of Hours are among some of its most fascinating. If you’d like to see some of our other, similar materials, why don’t you stop on by and let our Reference Staff see what they can arrange for you? At least head over and check out the exhibit! It’s one-of-a-kind.

From the Depths of our Rare Books: Victorian and Georgian Engravings!

It’s no secret that we love our Rare Books Collection here at the Southwest Collection. Ranging from pulp to more canonical works of literature, they’re a delight to browse. There are some oddities in there, though. Take our Engravings Collection, for example. Containing printings of engravings ranging from 1720 to 1895, they portray a diverse swath of Georgian and Victorian era United Kingdom life, with a smattering of India, Italy, and France thrown in. Just check these out!

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Many of the engravings in this collection graced the covers of periodicals. For just one penny, readers of Saturday Magazine throughout England had an opportunity to see the Duke of York Column. It memorializes George III’s eldest son and England’s legendary general, and is only slightly less effective in that regard than the nursery rhyme “The Grand Old Duke of York.” When this engraving was made in February 1833, the column had only been standing for a couple of months.

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In the church of St. Catherine Cree lies Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, once the Chief Butler of England (among a host of other notable positions.) This engraving of his sarcophagus shows the knight looking pretty relaxed for a man who moonlighted as ambassador to France and Scotland while raising–or at least siring–10 sons and 3 daughters.

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It’s important to keep in mind that not everyone in the UK was able to travel to London to view its many splendors despite the proliferation of railroads at that time (the first public railway had opened in 1825, four years before the above item was published.) Only through engravings that were later printed onto publications such as this one, The Mirror, could British citizens hope to see the Grand Entrance to Hyde Park.

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French history was a popular topic in these engravings; revolutions in France doubly so. The lower image is an imaginative depiction of the 1848, or “February,” Revolution, which forced the abdication of King Louis Philippe and began France’s Second Republic. The upper one is of the ousted Louis Philippe upon his arrival in Newhaven, England, in 1848. Having ruled France for the previous 18 years, he was reduced to enjoying the protection of Queen Victoria, spending his remaining days in Claremont, Surrey, where he died in 1850.

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France wasn’t the only nation falling under the shadow of revolution in 1848. The Sicilian revolution of independence began in January of that year, and gave the island nation a brief 16 months of self-governance until the Bourbons retook it. But they could not take away their fine mustaches, immortalized in this image.

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Not all Italian scenes in these works were of violent revolution, though. Some were simple images sprung from the imagination (and, possibly, the real-world observations) of the artist. This street scene in Naples is one such. Whether or not it reflects a particular national bias by the British artist, it’s certainly detailed and lively!

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We end with another Saturday Magazine cover, this one featuring the Pilchard fishery. That’s not the name of the fishery itself, however, but of the fish, which you might know now as a herring or sardine. Harvested from Ireland to Australia, pilchard’s were big business. Big enough, anyway, to merit a full cover spread for Saturday’s readers in 1833.

And there you have it – the briefest of samples of our fine engravings collection! If you want to see more, look no further than our kindly Reference Staff who can get others into your hands without delay.

Sowell Conference 2016 – and the Orion Society Collection!

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As we do every year around this time, the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library will host the Sowell Collection Conference, which will take place this year from Thursday, April 21st to Saturday the 23rd. Created through the generous support of James Sowell, the Sowell Family Collection in Literature, Community, and the Natural World contains the personal papers of some of the country’s most prominent writers who are dedicated to documenting the ways in which we interact with our world, and creating new ways of examining our world and our place within it. The list of authors whose papers we preserve is far too long to list here in its entirety, but some of the most prominent include Rick Bass, William Kittredge, Barry Lopez, Doug Peacock, Pattiann Rogers, and Annick Smith. These authors have provided published books, correspondence, research notebooks, diaries, calendars, photographs, computer files, film, and a host of other materials for our researchers to use. This year, the Collection was also fortunate to receive the records of the Orion Society!

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A group of writers, environmentalists, and activists, the Orion Society believes that “humans are morally responsible for the world in which we live, and that the individual comes to sense this responsibility as he or she develops a personal bond with nature.”  The Orion Society focuses on teaching how nature and communities might be healed.  Their publication, Orion, is a respected journal which highlights global efforts to achieve sustainable communities. And it has incredible cover photos, as you can see throughout this blog.

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The Myrin Institute began publishing Orion Nature Quarterly (now simply Orion) in 1982. Ten years later, Myrin established the Orion Society to conduct writing workshops, secondary education initiatives, and grassroots networking. But at its core, the Society focuses on teaching how nature and communities might be healed. Many writers whose papers are housed in the Sowell Collection have been regular contributors to the journal–including Barry Lopez, Priscilla Ybarra, Lisa Couturier, and Robert Michael Pyle who will be hosting an Orion panel at this year’s Sowell Conference.

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An important event in the Society’s history, which our Orion Society Collection thoroughly documents, is the Forgotten Language Tours. Held from 1992-2003, they facilitated events in communities across the U.S. in which writers and poets offered readings, workshops, and discussions that attempted to strengthen the local community’s understanding of the natural world and human community as well as to promote nature literacy.

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The Fire & Grit and Watershed conferences were similarly prominent events. The former was held in 1999 at the National Conservation Training Center, the largest gathering ever to take place there. The Watershed: Writers, Nature and Community conference, cosponsored by the Library of Congress, took place in Washington, D.C., April 15-20, 1996, with over three thousand people in attendance.

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Finally, the society presents The John Hay Award for Nature Writing annually to writers whose work is vital in reconnecting people to the natural world. Award winners include John Hay, Ann Zwinger, Wendell Berry, Homero Aridjis, Peter Matthiessen and Jane Goodall. In 2004 and 2010 Orion won the Utne Independent Press Award for General Excellence. The magazine was a finalist for a National Magazine Award in the Essay category.

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The Orion Society published two anthologies of writing from Orion: Finding Home (1992) and The Future of Nature (2007); and two educational series: The Nature Literacy Series and the New Patriotism Series. But the collection holds more than just issues of Orion and these other publications. Correspondence and manuscripts are present, as are audio/visual materials and photographs. The Orion Society Notebook published from 1995 through 1997 (sometimes under other titles) is also available for your reading pleasure.

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So make plans to attend 2016’s Sowell Conference if you can. But if you can’t, don’t hesitate to view the Orion Society’s records in our Holden Reading Room, where our ever-attentive Reference staff would be happy to get them into your hands.

Elmer Kelton’s Papers at the Southwest Collection

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The Southwest Collection is home to the papers of a number of prominent fiction and non-fiction writers, but few among them were as prolific as Western fiction writer Elmer Kelton. Born in 1926 in Horse Camp, Texas (a name that destined him to do something related to West Texas…), Kelton was raised on the McElroy Ranch near Crane, Texas, where his father worked for over thirty years. This experience among a host of others throughout his life shaped the ensuing five decades of non-stop composition.

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After a stint at the University of Texas at Austin from 1942 to 1944, then 1946 to 1948 (sandwiching two years of service in the army during World War 2), he acquired a journalism degree and returned to West Texas where he spent over a decade writing for local newspapers. Kelton’s work appeared primarily the San Angelo Standard-Times, but pieces appeared throughout the region, such the one above from the Big Spring Daily Herald.

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But it was the authorship of more than 30 novels that made his reputation. The resulting accolades are almost too many to list (but we’ll try). 3 Western Heritage Awards, given by the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Center; 7 Spur Awards from the Western Writers of America; the Barbara McCombs/Lon Tinkle Award from the Institute of Texas Letters; a lifetime achievement award from the National Cowboy Symposium; and the first Lone Star award for lifetime Achievement from the Larry McMurtry Center for Arts and Humanities at Midwestern State University. Oh, and in April 1997 the Texas Legislature declared an Elmer Kelton Day.

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Novel-writing and award receptions had to be scheduled around his other career. Kelton spent five years as Sheep and Goat Raiser Magazine’s editor, twenty-two as associate editor of Livestock Weekly, and of course, the diligent newspaper work that he continued until the 1990s. The excerpt above is an excellent example both of his prose and the sense of humor that permeated it (as well as a host of entertaining ads for the upcoming local rodeo).

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As a longstanding member (over 40 years) of the Western Writers of America, Kelton often found himself collaborating with other writers. The letters below and above, dating from 1972, concern a project wherein several writers would compose a story by passing it from writer to writer, each of whom would add to it before giving it to the next. Although the outcome of this project wasn’t apparent from a brief search through the boxes of correspondence in his Papers, we suspect a dedicated researcher might find the answer someday.

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Elmer Kelton’s catalog continued to grow even after his passing in 2009, with Texas Standoff, a novel in his Texas Rangers series, appearing posthumously in 2010. But honestly, our 500 words of description are hardly able to do justice to the man’s colossal body of work. His novels are widely available in libraries (including ours) and you’d do well to pick one up and read it through. Or, if you’d like to research further into the nuts and bolts of a famed Western writer’s process, our helpful Reference staff would be happy to get Kelton’s papers into your hands.

 

Wonders from the World of the Astounding and Fantastical Dime Novels

air rocketThere was a time not so long ago when adjective-slathered tales of steam-fueled engineering and two-fisted, crack-shot cowboys filled the pages of cheaply printed dime novels. We love those stories, and today, for you, we have a whole passel of some of the finest covers of the dime novels from our modest collection of them.

Now, normally we would try to provide some context or commentary on them, but this week we feel that these really speak for themselves. So enjoy the B’hoys of Yale, Thomas Edison, Jr., and the incredible Steam Man, and if you want to read them through, stop on by and visit with our Reference Staff who will boldly venture to our stacks and plunder them for you!

boys of yaleWhat hard-knock lessons await these scrappy boys of Yale University?

calamity janeCrack shot and queen of Whoop-Up. A maiden with which men dare not trifle!

electric sea spiderTom Edison, Jr., famed inventor’s son and Wizard of the Submarine world. Journey with him into the dark depths that not even Jules Verne could imagine!

deadwood dickDeadwood Dick strode the pages of many a dime novel, and you’d be the most villainous of rogues not to follow him in his adventures.

electricsubmarineYou saw Thomas Edison, Jr., above, but his era was filled with nautical ingenuity and perilous adventure. Frank Reader, Jr., son of the inventor of the Amazing Steam Man (below) left the trackless expanses of his father’s prairies for another boundless world: the briny deep!

steam manBehold! The impossible made possible! Perpetual motion across the vast hinterlands of these United States.

unknown planetAnd lastly, two boys who would not be denied, who sought the final frontier, the dark void that lies between we denizens of Earth and the unimaginable Unknown Planet!

Buffalo Bill and the Saga of His Dime Novels

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The SWC has a lot of books. Some of them are rare, some not so rare, and some incredibly entertaining. And as you may know by now, we love to share the latter most of all. These dime novels about Buffalo Bill are a prime example. According to the preliminary pages of the books, “they depict actual adventures…interwoven with fiction; historically the books are correct.” Is that true? Well, head on over to browse amongst them in our digital collections and find out. You could start with Buffalo Bill’s Determination, above, which having been published in 1910 is one of the earliest ones we possess.

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The Buffalo Bill dime novels were written by Prentiss Ingraham, a Mississippi-born author who served in the Confederate Army in 1861 where he was wounded twice working for the Texas cavalry. By 1884 he had met Buffalo Bill Cody, worked for his Wild West Show, and penned over six hundred dime novels, many of which concerned his employer. He swore up and down that they were based on actual events. Perhaps the above tale of Buffalo Bill’s Bold Play, or Tiger of the Hills–the story of Juniper Joe’s carefully guarded mine and the tragedies that befell him, the nearby town, and those who sought his fortune–was the truth. Who’s to say?

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But let’s back this story up for a second. What is a dime novel? Glad you asked. Typically published as pamphlets of about 100 pages, dime novels often spun yarns of the Wild West and figures such as Buffalo Bill (of course,) Kit Carson, Billy the Kid, and Wyatt Earp. These heroes were cool customers, quick-drawing cowboys who were always on the lookout for maidens needing rescue from outlaws and Indians. Prentiss’ stories were among some of the most popular, and of course they only cost a dime (or, on a lucky day, a nickel.) By the 1920s, most of these publications were replaced by pulp magazines and, a little later, western novels of the Louis L’Amour variety. But in their day, audiences couldn’t get enough of them.

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Curious to read more about Buffalo Bill’s exploits? Then head on over to our digital collection of Ingraham’s stories. And if you’re interested in other rare books or our many archival holdings, browse around that site and see what you find. Finally, and as always, if you need to see something live and in person, our ever-diligent Reference Staff will get on top of that for you.

2nd Year Anniversary!

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The Southwest Collection’s blog, Tumblr, and Facebook have been around for a full 2 years now. Thousands of blog visitors later (not to mention 8,500 Tumblr followers! Thank you all!) we are still going strong. It’s an honor (and really, really fun) to share all sorts of oddities from our interesting collections. To celebrate this accomplishment (and to give us time to dig up more cool stuff…) for the next two weeks (June 8 through June 19) we’re going to be sharing one highlight per day from our last year of entertaining you. There’s some good stuff, from parakeet-powered cars to Texas Tech football victories, maps of Snake Country to the itinerant toy tractors that roam our archival stacks (and every other place they can devise that might annoy us.)

Mapa correspondiente al diario que formo Elp.F. Pedro Font del viage que hizo a Monterey y puerto de San Francisco... arizona 1878

Thanks for all your support! And don’t hesitate to click around through all our images weeks, months, and years to see if there’s something in there that enlightens you. Or, more likely, holds your interest long enough to look it over. That’s why we do this!

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The Sowell Natural History Conference at the Southwest Collection – 2015

1a.B.Lopez-Arctic DreamsThis April 16th through 18th, the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library will host the Sowell Collection Conference. Created through the generous support of James Sowell, the Sowell Family Collection in Literature, Community, and the Natural World contains the personal papers of some of the country’s most prominent writers who are dedicated to documenting the ways in which we interact with our world and creating new ways of examining our world and our place within it. In 2001, the work of Rick Bass, William Kittredge, Barry Lopez, Bill McKibben, Doug Peacock, David Quammen, Pattiann Rogers, and Annick Smith comprised the core of this collection. Writers recently added include Susan Brind Morrow, John Lane, and Sandra Scofield. In addition to published books, materials available for research purposes include correspondence; drafts of manuscripts; research notebooks; diaries and calendars; and photographs, computer files, and film.

Barry Lopez, for example, is an essayist, author, and short story writer. The relationship between physical landscape and human culture lies at the core of his nonfiction work, while his fiction frequently addresses issues of intimacy, ethics, and identity. His books include Arctic Dreams, the cover of which can be seen above. It received the National Book Award, and another of Lopez’ works, Of Wolves and Men, was a National Book Award finalist. Lopez has received fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the John Burroughs Society, the Orion Society, and other institutions. For All Seasons

Roland “Ro” Wauer is another prominent author well-documented in the Sowell Collection. An internationally acclaimed expert on the birds and butterflies of North America, Wauer is also a thirty-two year veteran of the National Park Service. As chief park naturalist for Big Bend National Park and chief of the Division of Natural Resources, National Park Service, he is the author of some two dozen books and two hundred articles. Ro writes on topics that reflect his distinguished career, with titles that include Birder’s Mexico, Butterflies of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, and Naturalist’s Big Bend. For All Seasons, seen above, chronicles a year of his life in Big Bend in an effort to share both the beauty of and his passion for that park.QuammenBook Cover-Kiwi EggDavid Quammen is known for writing concise and highly accessible articles on scientific topics. His book, The Song of the Dodo (Scribner, 1996), in which he investigates the rate of species extinction in island ecosystems, won the John Burroughs Medal for nature writing and several other awards. Quammen is a frequent contributor to Outside magazine and his work has also appeared in Harper’s, Esquire, and Rolling Stone. He has received a Lannan Foundation Fellowship as well as the National Magazine Award and the New York Public Library’s Helen Bernstein Award for Excellence in Journalism. The human drama and scientific basis of Darwin’s twenty-one-year delay constitute a fascinating, tangled tale that elucidates the character of a cautious naturalist who initiated an intellectual revolution. In The Kiwi’s Egg (above) Quammen uses the personal letters and notebooks of Charles Darwin to explore the biography of Darwin with a focus on the history of the scientist’s most famous theory.Rick Bass BroadsideRick Bass is a writer and environmental activist. He was born in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1958, but spent much of his youth in Houston. He graduated from Utah State with a degree in geology and then worked as a petroleum geologist in Mississippi. In 1987 Bass moved to Montana and began writing full-time. He is the author of numerous short stories, novels, memoirs and essays. Much of his work focuses on the reasoned benefits of preserving wilderness areas, such as the Roadless Yaak Valley of Montana. Our Rick Bass papers include almost all of his early work, as well as drafts of short stories and essays, correspondence and Yaak Valley Forest Council material, and over 100 letters from Rick Bass to James Linville, editor of the Paris Review.

–    Diane Warner, Librarian for the Sowell Collection