HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK!
My own youthful impressions of Yellowstone were shaped by television, or more specifically, by the cartoon characters of Yogi Bear, his sidekick Boo Boo, and the ranger always trying to foil the smarter-than-the-average-bear’s efforts to purloin picnic baskets in Jellystone Park.
When I finally did make it to the actual Yellowstone Park in the summer of 1985, the black bears that prowled the campgrounds and circled my tent late at night in search of a midnight snack did not strike me as particularly comical or cute!
This August, Yellowstone National Park is celebrating its 125th anniversary. Although technically established on March 1st, celebratory events have been scheduled for August 25th since the National Park Service itself was established on this date. To commemorate the occasion, I thought that I would treat my readers to a small display of materials from the Wolfsonian’s rare book and special collection library relating to Yellowstone.
As part of its celebratory program, the National Park Service will be opening a new exhibit entitled “Where the Buffalo Roam” at the Canyon Visitor Center this month. The Yellowstone-related materials in our collection picture bears more often than bison, so I thought that I would include this rare die-cut buffalo head guide to the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York from 1901. This item is one of several new world’s fair items gifted to the Wolfsonian this month as part of the larger Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection.
Thanks to an earlier donation by Howard Gottlieb, the library holds nearly 400 photochrom (or color lithograph) prints produced from images taken by American photographer William Henry Jackson (1843-1942).
“OLD FAITHFUL” GEYSER, YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, 1898
LIBERTY CAP, MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, YELLOWSTONE PARK, 1902
Hired by railroad companies to document scenery along train routes for promotional purposes, Jackson traveled the country by rail taking panoramic landscape photographs.
JUPITER TERRACE, YELLOWSTONE PARK, 1902
PULPIT TERRACES FROM ABOVE, YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, 1898
A number of the prints depict the natural wonders of Yellowstone that were reproduced as photochroms by the Detroit Photographic Company.
HYMEN TERRACE, YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, 1902
SAPPHIRE POOL, YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, 1902
These iconic images helped popularize and generate enthusiasm for tourism to the recently created park.
CASTLE GEYSER, YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, 1898
The library also has a copy of Elbert and Alice Hubbard’s A Little Journey to the Yellowstone (1915), originally acquired not for its subject matter but on account of its publishers, the Roycrofters.
A zealous reformer, Elbert Hubbard founded a utopian community in the sleepy village of East Aurora near Buffalo, New York in 1895 with the aim of creating a harmonious community of artists and craftsmen. The participants of this American experiment in the Arts and Crafts tradition called themselves Roycrofters—a tribute to the seventeenth century printing guild of Samuel and Thomas Roycroft, who became craftsmen to the king. In their own printing production, Hubbard’s Roycrafters paid as much attention to the quality of print, paper, and decoration of their fine press books as to the intellectual content.
Finally, the Wolfsonian library also has a few Yellowstone materials from the 1930s. One of them is a motorists’ guide to the park—an item that repeatedly reminded tourists not to feed the wildlife.
A more rare and unusual item from the thirties is a portfolio of fourteen prints made from original wood blocks designed and cut by American wood engraver and lithographer, Harold E. Keeler (1905-1968).
Lois S. Keeler noted that the artist’s original sketchbook from his walking tour of Yellowstone indicated that he envisioned a more ambitious project, with plans for illustrations of flowers, tree, birds, wild animals, natural wonders, and scenic views.
The portfolio of realized woodblocks focused more narrowly on the flora than the fauna, and on details rather than panoramic scenery. It was produced at the behest of Lois Keeler and printed by John Kutz in a limited edition that numbered no more than twenty copies.