The Josephy Library, January 30, 2013

Rich and Josephy Center Director Lyn Craig at the shelves
The Josephy Library of Western History and Culture is part of the Josephy Center for Arts and Culture in Joseph, Oregon. It is based on over 2000 books, journals, artifacts, manuscripts, and miscellaneous pieces from Josephy home libraries in Greenwich, Connecticut and Joseph, Oregon. It honors Alvin’s work as a historian of and advocate for American Indians, and Alvin and Betty’s commitment to literature, history, the arts, the West, and to the men, women, and children of all colors and backgrounds who have lived in and loved the West.
Alvin M. Josephy Jr. was the author of The Nez Perce Indians and the Opening of the Northwest, The Indian Heritage of America, 500 Nations, and several other books and scores of magazine and journal articles on Indian and Western history. He was the founding board chair of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.
January 30, 2013:
1       Over 400 books are cataloged and on shelves. We catalog on the SAGE system of Eastern Oregon Libraries: 
2     Hundreds of journals—long runs of Oregon Historical Quarterly, American Heritage, Western Historical Quarterly, American West, etc. , and shorter runs of more obscure journals—Annals of Wyoming, Okanogan Historical Society Report, Northeastern Nevada Historical Society Quarterly, etc. are being entered on a spread sheet, which should be available on line in a couple of weeks.
3      We have begun to index articles written by Alvin Josephy. Eventually, we will have a spread sheet with this information, and will gradually add abstracts. As Josephy’s journalism includes hundreds of pieces written during student days at Harvard, as Marine journalist in the WW II Pacific, ten years at Time Magazine, etc., this will be an ongoing activity.
4     The Original maps from the Nez Perce book are being digitized and will soon be available.The plan is to put them up on the Josephy Center web site at low resolution. Print use of high resolution images will be by permission.
5     We are beginning to organize material in “pods” by subject area. These reflect significant areas of concern in Josephy’s work. For instance, materials on the fur trade and the Civil War in the West,
6       Our second class, “The Wallowa Country: 1855-1900” will begin on February 19. This four week, non-credit class is aimed at local history buffs and will include several Joseph High School students.
7       Saturday morning sessions for middle school students are in the works
8     A “children’s corner” is being developed by volunteers. It will include children’s books, toys, etc.
9     Although the main collection is non-circulating, we have extra copies of Josephy books and other material of special local interest that is being organized into a very small lending section.
We appreciate your questions, suggestions, and assistance. Libraries, I am learning, are sustained by love. There is no way that this work “pays its way,” but, as friend Kim Stafford reminds me, it was Benjamin Franklin who said that community is dependent on three strong public institutions: a fire department, post office, and library. The fire departments are still here, the Post Office is under attack, and small non-profit libraries like ours join the great public libraries in maintaining culture—and community.

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Josephy blog in 2012

First off, thanks to all who have followed and responded to postings on the Josephy Library blog this year.

The deeper into Josephy I dig, the more I learn, and the more prescient his early writings in Western and Indian history become. I guess if I had to distill a year’s reading and digging to a sentence, it would be that Josephy learned and declared in the 1950s that Indians have, against all attempts to kill them and/or to assimilate them, survived; that Indians have history that has been ignored and maligned; and that Indian history and culture have things to teach us still.

Alvin gathered Indian writers and scholars and produced America in 1492: The World of the Indian Peoples Before the Arrival of Columbus, on the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s landing. My favorite read this year was Charles Mann’s recently published 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus, which picks up the argument.

Alvin’s writings on Indians and salmon, Indians and the Kinzua Dam, Indians and the Four Corners, Indians and water rights, Indians and sacred sites, played their roles in moving public policy and perceptions at the time—and they are still timely.

So long-time publisher and friend of Alvin’s, of mine, and of Fishtrap, Marc Jaffe, and I are working on an anthology of Josephy writings—published and unpublished—that could move beyond this blog and contribute to the current idea exchange. We will keep you posted.

And I am, with friends at the U of Oregon Library and Cliff Trafzer at the U of California, Riverside, trying to find an unpublished Josephy manuscript on the Sioux. It might be publishable still.

And a weekly, three minute radio program, “From the Archives,” will begin running on KPBX, the public radio station in Spokane, in January.

And our amazing volunteer librarian, Shannon Maslach, continues to put books and interesting ephemeral material on the shelves and into the SAGE Library cataloging system. I will have a piece on the ephemera and manuscripts out soon. This is material that some of you will find useful.

I wish you the very best in the New Year, in your vocational and avocational work in history and Indian affairs, and in your personal lives. I wish friends in Indian country continued success in bringing your stories and contributions to all of America.

Most of all, I wish you—and me too!—good luck in dealing with a world that is often overwhelming. Remember that Alvin kept harping on those 1950s themes till the end, often in the face of indifferent audiences and Indians who felt defeated, but he kept after it, and we are here to say that his words mattered then and matter still.

Happy New Year!