Title Reviewed:
A Guide to the Manuscript Collections of the Bancroft Library

Author Reviewed:
Dale L. Morgan; George P. Hammond

Oscar Osburn Winther


Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 60, Issue 2, pp 215-216

Article Type:
Book Review

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A Guide to the Manuscript Collections of the Bancroft Library. Edited by Dale L. Morgan and George P. Hammond. (Berkeley: University of California Press, for the Bancroft Library, 1963. Pp. viii, 379. Index. $15.00.)

To researchers in the fields of Latin American and Western American history the Bancroft Library at the University of California has long been an academic citadel. In this magnificent library are housed more than four million manuscripts pertaining to the above mentioned fields. An important portion of these manuscripts, together with the largest single collection of printed books (40,000) in these areas, were initially collected by the historian Hubert Howe Bancroft and were sold to the University of California in 1905. Since then, especially under the directorships of Herbert Eugene Bolton and, more recently, George P. Hammond, these original collections have been appreciably augmented.

For the library staff and users alike, these materials have been habitually referred to as the "old" (the original collection) and the "new" collections. Until the publication of the present volume the best and perhaps only complete guide to the "old" manuscripts was in the voluminous footnotes and bibliographical references appearing in Bancroft's colossal thirty-nine volume history based upon his own collection. Gradually card catalogues developed, and now—thanks to many devoted members of the staff and especially to the editors of the present volume—there is currently being produced a three-volume guide to the manuscript collections presently housed in the Bancroft Library. The particular volume discussed here, and the first to appear, covers the American West, minus the California manuscripts. To come are a one-volume guide to the California materials and a one-volume guide to the manuscript materials relating to Mexico, Central America, and Spanish Colonial America. In preparation for these guides the director relates that the entire classification of the collections was altered in such a way as to bring the "old" and the "new" into proper physical relationship "without loss of identity" of each. For all this the fraternity of Western American scholars owes much thanks to Director Hammond, who possessed the imagination to see what was needed as well as the administrative ability and fortitude necessary to execute this grand design.

The volume now published is the epitome of simplicity. The various manuscript items or collections are arranged alphabetically by states. The contents of each unit are noted and briefly described. Thus under Oregon one finds listed: "Lane, Joseph, 1801-1881. Autobiography. Portland, Oregon. 1878." A call number follows. And this in turn is followed by a four- or five-line statement as to the contents of this particular manuscript. When the last of the three volumes appears, George P. Hammond, with the able assistance of Dale L. Morgan, will have achieved a highly laudable goal he set for himself when in 1946 he assumed the directorship: the finding of a way to make the resources of Bancroft Library better known and more readily available to scholars.

Indiana University

Oscar Osburn Winther

Published by the Indiana University Department of History.