Books of the Far West, with an Emphasis on California

Current faculty: Gary F. Kurutz
Location: California Historical Society

Description: This course presents an introduction to the history of the book in California and an exploration of classic Western Americana.

Topics will include:
1) the bibliography and bibliographers of the Golden West with profiles of Robert E. Cowan, Henry R. Wagner, J. Frank Dobie, Carl I. Wheat, Lawrence Clark Powell, and others;
2) The Zamorano 80 (the most famous list of the important books of the West), Zamorano Select, Dawson 80, Washington 89, Arizona 50, and noteworthy auction catalogs;
3) The making of a Gold Rush bibliography and bibliography of Western gold rushes;
4) Great illustrated books from George Catlin to Mallette Dean and Paul Landacre;
5) The Nineteenth Century book trade with a look at pioneer printing, publishing, and bookselling and early library formation and reading in the West;
6) California Bohemians;
7) fine press books and bibliophilic organizations. Some miscellaneous subjects will also be included such as cookbooks and menus, fiction with a local color from The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County to Gidget, the Little Girl with Big Ideas; pictorial bindings with a California & Western theme; promotional literature; “From Trains to Planes” and the literature of post pioneer travel including early automobiliana.

In addition, there will be visits to the California Historical Society, Bancroft Library, Society of California Pioneers, The Book Club of California and literary landmarks in San Francisco.

Requirements: No previous experience necessary.

Years Taught: 2006-2011, 2013-2016, 2019