Cover image for In search of York : the slave who went to the Pacific with Lewis and Clark
In search of York : the slave who went to the Pacific with Lewis and Clark
Betts, Robert B.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boulder : Colorado Associated University Press : Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, [2000]

Physical Description:
x, 204 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color), maps ; 27 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F592.7 .B48 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
F592.7 .B48 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



First published in 1985, Robert B. Betts' unique account of the sole African American member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition is now back in an updated edition with new material and illustrations. In Search of York removes many of the fallacies surrounding York and pinpoints the important role he played in the success of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Through painstaking research and the synthesis of all the available information known about York, Betts exposes the impact of racial prejudice on historical interpretation. Neither the hero that a few romantic chroniclers have drawn nor the buffoon of many accounts tainted with racism, Betts' York emerges as a believable human being touching both the heights and depths of the world he lived in.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

At last there is a first-rate study of the only black member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, William Clark's slave York. Previous accounts portrayed York as a racial stereotype, a comic character who clowned and womanized his way to the Pacific without making any significant contribution to the expedition. Other accounts engaged in romantic fantasy, attributing to York undocumented heroic exploits; and still others tell a bizarre story of York spending his final years as honored chief among the Crows. Betts corrects these fallacies and myths. From scrupulous research in the original sources, he traces York's participation in the 1803-06 expedition and reconstructs as much about his life as the skimpy evidence permits. The result is a balanced account that illustrates York's genuine contributions without exaggerating his character or his role. In the process, Betts also exposes the impact of racial prejudice on historical interpretation and gives us a model of sound historical inquiry. His concise study is presented in a clear, readable style, and is enlivened with numerous excellent pictures and illustrations. The illustrations, printing, and binding are of high quality. Good bibliography. An important work for all students of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and highly recommended for college, university, and major public libraries.-R. Detweiler, California State University, San Bernardino

Table of Contents

Part I The York of the Lewis & Clark Journals
The York of Myth and of Fact
An Attempt to See the Man As He Was
The Strangest Story of All
The End of the Search