Selection Criteria

The main aim in choosing the material was to select a wide range of documents. The majority of the material is unique. All of the rare printed material was screened against other collections such as Sabin to avoid unnecessary overlap. The physical condition of the original documents was also assessed to ensure all documents selected were suitable for digitization. In the selection process, we take as much advice as possible from our Editorial Board and from other scholars and librarians working in the field.


The Graff collection

“Newberry Trustee Everett D. Graff (1885–1964), attracted by the Ayer Collection, donated his library of Western Americana to the Newberry Library in 1964. The collection originally comprised some 10,000 books and manuscripts, many of them extremely rare, most dealing with the exploration and settlement of the trans-Mississippi West in the 19th century” –

Major strengths of the Graff Collection:

• Lewis and Clark expedition
• Fur trade
• Mormon treks of 1846 and 1849
• California gold rush
• Narratives of overland travel throughout the 19th century
• Surveys for transcontinental railroads in the 1850s
• Cattle industry
• Early town, county and state history
• Law enforcement, including the various vigilante organizations

For more information about the Graff Collection, see the essays by Ray Allen Billington and Colton Storm.