Title Reviewed:
A Classified Bibliography of the Periodical Literature of the Trans-Mississippi West (1811–1957).

Author Reviewed:
Oscar Osburn Winther

Ray Allen Billington


Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 58, Issue 2, pp 163-164

Article Type:
Book Review

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A Classified Bibliography of the Periodical Literature of the Trans-Mississippi West (1811–1957). By Oscar Osburn Winther. Indiana University Social Science Series, Number 19. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1961. Pp. xxvi, 626. Index. Paperbound, $6.00.)

Seldom have historians been so marvelously endowed with helpful bibliographical tools as in the past few years. The Library of Congress Guide to the Study of the United States of America, the American Historical Association Guide to Historical Literature, and the National Historical Publication Commission Guide to Archives and Manuscripts in the United States are today essential items in any well-stocked scholarly library. To that list must be added this meticulously wrought and utterly essential bibliography of the periodical literature of the trans-Mississippi West. Users of these books should regularly recite a prayer of thanks to the dedicated authors who have made them available.

Professor Winther's fat volume lists 9,244 periodical, magazine, and journal articles printed between 1811 and 1957. All are classified by subject under alphabetized headings and subheadings for ease of use. Thus a student seeking information on Indian agents has only to turn to the section on "Indians" and the subsection on "Indian Agents" to find twelve articles on his subject, ranging from an 1864 "Report of Commissioner of Indian Affairs" in the North American Review to a learned article on "William Ewing, Agricultural Agent to the Indians" in a 1957 copy of Agricultural History. To assure even greater usefulness, a symbol indicates the nature of each entry as journal or diary, official document, reminiscence, or article. An author index at the end of the volume allows users to trace the publications of any writer quickly and accurately.

Most of the periodicals used by Professor Winther in compiling his listings are professional historical journals or state and regional quarterlies published in the trans-Mississippi West, although he has included such venerable publications as Niles' Weekly Register and the North American Review. He has also searched the files of such modern publications as the Atlantic Monthly, Overland Monthly, the Political Science Quarterly, and Sociological Review, to name but a few. Any user may be assured that virtually any article touching on his subject, no matter what its source, will be found listed on these pages.

This volume is a revision of Professor Winther's earlier The Trans-Mississippi West: A Guide to Its Periodical Literature, published in 1942, and listing all articles printed between 1811 and 1938. A comparison of these two editions reveals a sobering fact. The 1942 edition contained 240 pages of text and listed 3,501 items; the 1961 edition runs to 564 pages and itemizes 9,244 articles. This means that in the nineteen years between 1938 and 1957 historians have produced no less than 5,743 articles on the trans-Mississippi West, or 2,242 more than were published in the 127 years before 1938. If the pace of scholarship continues to accelerate at this rate, Professor Winther's next edition will resemble the unabridged dictionary.

The value of such bibliographical guides as this increases in direct proportion to the multiplication of historical studies. No student of the West should think of launching any project without consulting its meticulously compiled pages.

Ray Allen Billington, Northwestern University

Published by the Indiana University Department of History.