Photography & the American West
The College of New Jersey began acquiring books and other materials about the trans-Mississippi West long before Western Americana was collectible and well before the 1890 U.S. Census announced the closing of the American frontier. Some accounts of early explorations, such as Jonathan Carver’s Travels through the Interior Parts of North America (1784), came to the college in 1812 with the purchase of John Witherspoon’s former library. The 1884 subject catalog of the college library lists several government publications on the exploration of the American West, such John C. Frémont’s Report of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, Oregon, and North Carolina (1845) and F. V. hayden’s Annual Reports of the Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories (1874–1878). More notable, however, for their early inclusion in the holdings of the college are several collections of documentary photographs of the American West taken from the 1850s through the 1890s.
Learn more about the history of the Western Americana photograph collections