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The Best of the West: Western Americana at the Clements Library

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Alcove Exhibit

The Best of the West: Western Americana at the Clements Library

The Best of the West is an exhibition of 45 printed rarities in early western Americana from the Clements Library collection. The exhibit is a tribute to antiquarian bookseller and outstanding Americanist William S. Reese (1955-2018), drawing upon Reese’s 2017 book The Best of the West for its descriptions of the titles on display.  

The books and pamphlets in the exhibition range chronologically from Miguel Venegas’ 1757 Noticia de la California to Thomas F. Dawson & F. J. V. Skiff’s 1879 The Ute War. In between are dozens of the rarest examples of western Americana primary sources, in Spanish, French, English, and German. They include discovery and exploration narratives, 19th-century overland narratives, prints and views of Native Americans, color-plate books, gold and silver mining reports, and other glimpses of the trans-Mississippi West.