American West: Guest Post by Tim Berge

Posted by Nicholas Wyant, Head, Social Sciences
Pen and ink sketch of Native Americans

The American West has long been depicted and immortalized through film, literature, folklore and popular culture. While perhaps memorable, these representations are often inaccurate glamorizations. Through photographs, drawings, maps, rare books, personal accounts and ephemera taken from the Everett D. Graff collection at The Newberry Library in Chicago, American West from Adam Matthew Digital steers us towards a more realistic depiction of how the West really was and illuminates how perceptions of it grew to be skewed. There are interactive maps illustrating river systems, railroads, shifting political boundaries, bison populations and areas of land seized from Native Americans as well as facsimiles of maps guiding you through railroad stations, silver mines, or the locations Indian tribes. Rare books and pamphlets provide information on the city of Portland, the history of livestock and the best locations for European immigrants to live, among other things. Personal accounts detail the life of J.C. "Grizzly" Adams and the story of the Donner Party, providing the original foundation on which popular folklore and mythologies have been built. This collection is an invaluable resource for historians, folklorists and anyone with an interest in the West whether it be academic or otherwise.