Cover image for Books on the frontier : print culture in the American West, 1763-1875
Books on the frontier : print culture in the American West, 1763-1875
Clement, Richard W., 1951-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : Library of Congress ; Hanover, N.H. : Distributed by University Press of New England, [2003]

Physical Description:
139 pages : illustrations, maps ; 27 cm
The first frontier -- To the Mississippi and beyond -- Across the great American desert -- The last frontier -- The frontier in books.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
Z473 .C59 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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From the end of the French and Indian War through the nineteenth century, the pioneers of the American book trade moved west, motivated, to varying degrees, by bibliophilia, enterprise, and a spirit of adventure. Through their own lively anecdotes and recollections, Richard Clement offers a history of book publishing and trade on the American frontier in Lexington, Louisville, and St Louis, where Joseph Charless opens various bookstores and print shops. In Texas, two brothers who set out to join the Army of Republic end up as pioneers of Houston's newspaper scene. In California, Anton Roman turns from mining gold to selling books, setting up a shop in San Francisco, while continuing to supply the foothill towns and mining camps with their literary needs.

In addition to the publishers and traders this is also a story of the readers: the men and women of the Great Plains who yearned for the escape of a novel nearly as eagerly as they demanded reliable guidebooks; the missionaries who used books to teach English and learn Native American languages. And finally, books took the stories of the frontier back East, where "The Adventures of Col. Daniel Boone" caught the popular imagination and helped to shape the archetype of the frontier hero.

Beautifully illustrated with seventy-five illustrations, Books on the Frontier includes examples of maps, portraits, almanacs, songbooks, guidebooks, dime novels, and more drawn from the Library of Congress collections.

Author Notes

RICHARD CLEMENT is the author of The Book in America (1996). A specialist in the history of the book in the West, Clement is special collections librarian at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library of the University of Kansas.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

This attractive book (printed, ironically, in Singapore) illustrates how the printed word, in all its manifestations, accompanied the American pioneers on every step of the westward journey from the frontier in New York State to that in California. Scholars who are already immersed in the history of the book in America (including those familiar with the individual biographies of such major figures as James D. Bemis, Jacob W. Cruger, and Anton Roman) may not gain as much from this study by Clement (The Book in America) as those who are new to the rapidly burgeoning field of "the book" and are looking for a brief introduction. Yet this work, a model of conciseness, includes several revelations that are sure to interest the ardent Americanist, one of which is that booksellers in the disparate areas of the new nation formed a kind of "chaotic brotherhood" despite the absence of reliable transportation. Clement's writing is colorful and succinct, the accompanying 75 illustrations opulent, and the subject fascinating even to the well-informed general reader. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries. [Clement is a special collections librarian at the Kenneth Spencer Library of the University of Kansas.-Ed.]-Charles C. Nash, Cottey Coll., Nevada, MO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Forewordby John Y. Cole
The First Frontier
To the Mississippi and Beyond
Across the Great American Desert
The Last Frontier
The Frontier in Books
Further Reading