Exhibitions & Projects

Rose Early, Grass Scarce: Writing the Journey into the Nineteenth Century American West

A pencil sketch from the 1854 journals of Thomas Adams, surveyor, explorer, and U.S. Indian Agent in the Pacific Northwest during the mid-nineteenth century. Journal; Thomas Adams Papers, C1452, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library.

In 2020, Professor of History Martha A. Sandweiss and Curator of Western Americana Gabriel Swift were awarded a Rapid Response Grant from the Princeton University Humanities Council to transcribe these manuscripts for better access and research potential. Three graduate students from the Princeton History Department—Poorvi Bellur, Kate Carpenter, and Brian Wright—transcribed, annotated, and researched the manuscripts and wrote the essays featured in this exhibition.

Rose Early, Grass Scarce: Writing the Journey into the Nineteenth Century American West highlights this work, introducing some of the men who wrote of their travels. Here you can access digitized files of the manuscript material and read annotated transcriptions of journals and correspondence, from Native American treaty negotiations in Montana Territory to Army life in New Mexico Territory to railroad surveying in the Great Basin. Four feature essays highlight some of these collections' most noteworthy content, and go beyond to explain how Princeton staff, faculty, and students brought these stories to life.

HIS 431: Archiving the American West

Archiving the American West (HIS 431) was an experimental course first offered at Princeton in Spring 2021 by Professor Martha Sandweiss (History), in collaboration with Gabriel Swift, Curator of Western Americana, and Brian Wright, Ph.D Candidate in History. Its goal was to offer students advanced research skills in Western American history, while also introducing them to the history and contemporary politics of archives and special collections.

Over the course of the semester, students created online exhibitions, each of which reflects the first scholarly engagement with an under-catalogued piece within the library’s collection.