The Imagined West

Popular understanding of the American West has been shaped as much by fact as by fiction – fiction that in some cases is contemporary to the actual figures and events it represents, as many of the documents in the Graff Collection testify.

The lawless nature of burgeoning settlements proved irresistible to authors and audience alike. (In)famous figures from the press were often depicted in periodicals such as the Police Gazette (see Billy LeRoy, the Colorado bandit (Graff 968)) as well as illustrated novels such as The life, times, and treacherous death of Jesse James (Graff 4196) and The life and adventures of Colonel David Crockett of Tennessee (Graff 5330). The alleged bandits often published their own accounts, for example the notorious robber of the James-Younger gang Cole Younger is credited with The story of Cole Younger, by himself (Graff 4796). One such account from a figure still very well known today, Life and adventures of Calamity Jane (Graff 484), is purported to be unreliable as a historical source, an example of how, through the agency of these books, even the figures themselves perpetuated the fiction and the image of The West.

Address on the occasion of removing the remains of Captains Walker and Gillespie, on the twenty-first of April, A.D. 1856. Published by a committee of citizens 1856 Pamphlet Texas
[Autograph letter signed, addressed to Albert M. Lea of Philadelphia] 1836 Correspondence
[Autograph letter, addressed to Edwin A. Havers] 15 Feb 1887 Correspondence
[Autograph letter, addressed to J. W. Bliss] 30 Sep 1870 Correspondence California
[Autograph letter, addressed to John Bigelow] 31 Dec 1844 Correspondence New Mexico
The banditti of the plains; or, The cattlemen’s invasion of Wyoming in 1892 (The crowning infamy of the ages.) 1894 Rare Book Wyoming
The banditti of the prairies, or, The murderer’s doom!!: a tale of the Mississippi Valley 1850 Rare Book Mississippi; Illinois
Billy LeRoy, the Colorado bandit; or, The king of American highwaymen. A complete and authentic history of this famous young desperado, his crimes and adventures. 1883 Periodical Colorado; New Mexico
The border outlaws. An authentic and thrilling history of the most noted bandits of ancient or modern times… 1881 Rare Book Missouri
Border tales: around the camp fire, in the Rocky Mountains 1878 Rare Book Wyoming; Montana; Idaho; Nebraska
"Buffalo Bill" (The Hon. William F. Cody) rifle and revolver shot, pony express rider, teamster, buffalo hunter, guide and scout; a full account of his adventurous life with the origin of his "wild west" show 1887 Rare Book; Photograph; Map Iowa; Kansas
Buffalo Bill from Prairie to Palace 1893 Rare Book Iowa; Colorado
Buffalo Bill's Wild West; America's national entertainment 1884 Pamphlet
Buffalo Bill’s wild west and congress of rough riders of the world; historical sketches and programme 1893 Pamphlet Nebraska; Texas
Captain Jeff; or, frontier life in Texas with the Texas Rangers… 1906 Rare Book Texas
Catalogue of books, in the different departments of literature, for sale by R. Patterson & Lambdin, Booksellers & Stationers... 1818 Rare Book Pennsylvania
Clay Allison of the Washita, first a cow man and then an extinguisher of bad men. Recollections of Colorado, New Mexico and the Texas panhandle, reminiscences of a ’79er 1920 Pamphlet Colorado; New Mexico; Texas; Oklahoma
Conquering the wilderness, or, New pictorial history of the life and times of the pioneer heroes and heroines of America 1883 Rare Book Kentucky; New Mexico; California
Crooked trails 1898 Rare Book Texas; California; Mexico
Diary 1876-1877 Journal Wyoming
Drawings by Frederic Remington 1897 Pamphlet; Ephemera; Drawing; Painting Colorado; Arizona
Famous frontiersmen, pioneers and scouts; the vanguards of American civilization 1883 Rare Book Wyoming; Ohio; Canada; Kentucky; Tennessee; Virginia; California; Washington; New York; Arizona; Colorado; Nebraska; Texas; Pennsylvania
Five years among wild savages. The renowned Apachee captive Miss Olive Oatman… 1859 Broadside
The Flush Times of Alabama and Mississippi 1853 Rare Book Alabama; Mississippi
Frontier legend; Texas finale of Capt. William F. Drannan pseudo frontier comrade of Kit Carson... 1954 Rare Book Texas
General Sheridan’s squaw spy, and Mrs. Clara Blynn’s captivity among the wild Indians of the prairies: a thrilling narrative of the daring exploits and hair-breadth escapes of Viroqua… c.1869 Rare Book Oklahoma
The guerrillas of the West, or the life, character and daring exploits of the Younger brothers… 1876 Rare Book Missouri
Hard knocks: a life story of the vanishing west 1915 Rare Book The Dakotas; Kansas; Wyoming
Heroes of the plains, or, lives and wonderful adventures of Wild Bill, Buffalo Bill... and other celebrated Indian fighters... including a true and thrilling history of Gen. Custer’s famous "last fight" 1881 Rare Book
John Colter, discoverer of Yellowstone park; an account of his exploration in 1807 and of his further adventures as hunter; trapper; Indian fighter; pathfinder and member of the Lewis and Clark expedition 1926 Rare Book Wyoming; Montana; Idaho
A journal of the adventures of Matthew Bunn 1796 Pamphlet Ohio; Michigan
Life and adventures of Calamity Jane 1896 Pamphlet Montana; Utah; Wyoming; Arizona; The Dakotas
The life and adventures of Colonel David Crockett of Tennessee 1833 Rare Book Tennessee
Life of the Marlows as related by themselves 1892 Rare Book Colorado; Texas
Life of Tom Candy Ponting Rare Book Wisconsin
The life, times, and treacherous death of Jesse James 1882 Rare Book Texas; Missouri; Nebraska; New York; Kentucky; California; Minnesota; Kansas
Long Lance 1929 Rare Book Montana; Canada
Narrative of the adventures of Zenas Leonard, a native of Clearfield County, PA. Who spent five years in trapping for furs, trading with the Indians, &c. &c., of the Rocky Mountains 1839 Rare Book Canada
A narrative of the captivity of Mrs. Horn, and her two children, with Mrs. Harris, by the Camanche Indians, after they had murdered their husbands and travelling companions... 1839 Pamphlet Texas; New York
Narratives of a late expedition against the Indians; with an account of the barbarous execution of Col. Crawford; and the wonderful escape of Dr. Knight and John Slover from captivity, in 1782 1783 Pamphlet
Notes from a cowboy’s diary 1925 Pamphlet; Diary Colorado
Outskirt episodes. The wild and woolly west of early days was a land of crime in many ways... 1927 Rare Book Wyoming
Pawnee Bill (Major Gordon W. Lillie): his experiences and adventures on the western plains; or, from the saddle of a "cowboy and ranger" to the chair of "Bank President" 1902 Rare Book Oklahoma
Philip Nolan's friends: a story of the change of western empire 1877 Rare Book Texas
[Photograph of Buffalo Bill, Pawnee Bill and Buffalo Jones] 1910 Correspondence; Photograph
[Photograph, supposed to portray "Calamity Jane", Martha Cannary Burk, on horseback, accoutred.] 1888 Photograph
The Rachel Plummer narrative; a stirring narrative of adventure, hardship and privation in the early days of Texas, depicting struggles with the Indians and other adventures 1926 Rare Book Texas; Mexico; Colorado; Missouri
The renowned historical celebrities Buffalo Bill (Hon. W.F. Cody) and Captain Jack (J.W. Crawford) in the realistic western drama, written especially for Buffalo Bill, in 5 acts, entitled: Life on the border. Supported by a powerful dramatic organization. 1877 Poster; Broadside California
Roughing it 1872 Rare Book; Journal Nevada; California
A selection of visual material from the Newberry Library 1843-1912 Illustration; Front Cover; Painting; Drawing; Photograph
The story of Cole Younger, by himself 1903 Rare Book Kansas; Missouri; Minnesota
This (Monday) evening, July 27th, will be presented, for the second time an entire new drama, in three acts, written by Mr. C.E. Bingham, entitled The captivity and massacre of the Oatman family! by the Apache & Mohave Indians!... 1857 Poster California
A thrilling narrative of the horrible sufferings and miraculous escape of Samuel Brown... 1852 Pamphlet Iowa
A thrilling narrative of Indian captivity 1863 Pamphlet; Correspondence; Journal Minnesota
The thrilling, startling and wonderful narrative of Lieutenant Harrison, who was taken prisoner at Goliad, Texas, in 1836, and only escaped the treacherous murder of his companions by the inhuman Mexicans, to be transferred to a punishment worse than death, namely, the mines of Mexico... 1848 Pamphlet Mexico; Texas
A true account of the capture of Frank Rande: "the noted outlaw" 1897 Rare Book Illinois; Iowa; Missouri
The true life of Billy the Kid 1881 Pamphlet New Mexico; Arizona
The true life of Billy the Kid c.1945 Pamphlet New Mexico
True story of the lost shackle, or, seven years with the Indians 1897 Pamphlet Wyoming; Iowa
True tales of the plains, by Buffalo Bill 1908 Rare Book Kansas; The Dakotas; Iowa; Nebraska; Wyoming; Colorado
Under the black flag, by Captain Kit Dalton, a Confederate soldier, a guerrilla captain under the fearless leader Quantrell, and a border outlaw for seventeen years following the surrender of the Confederacy 1914 Rare Book Kentucky; Missouri; Tennessee; Kansas; Texas
The Western souvenir, a Christmas and New Year's gift for 1829 1829 Periodical; Rare Book Wisconsin; Kentucky; Ohio
Wild life in the far west; personal adventures of a border mountain man… 1872 Rare Book California; Mexico; Arizona