The American Fur Trade of the Far West - Vol. 2

The American Fur Trade of the Far West - Vol. 2

The American Fur Trade of the Far West - Vol. 2

The American Fur Trade of the Far West - Vol. 2

Excerpt

By William R. Swagerty

The publishing career of Hiram M. Chittenden began in 1890 and ended with his death in 1917 at age fifty-nine. During those twenty-seven years, this remarkably energetic amateur historian produced three major interpretive histories as well as a multivolume edited work and a dozen articles and technical reports. Today, Chittenden is best remembered for two acclaimed classics: The American Fur Trade of the Far West (1902) and Life, Letters and Travels of Father Pierre-Jean De Smet, S.J., 1801-1873 , collected and edited in collaboration with Alfred Talbot Richardson in 1905. Since their publication, collectors of Western Americana, students of the Far West, and professional librarians have fondled the weighty and now rare first editions of Chittenden's histories. Until the release of this Bison Book edition of The American Fur Trade of the Far West , only Chittenden's study of Yellowstone National Park was widely available in paperback to audiences other than academics and collectors.

Chittenden was proud of his study of the fur trade, considering it a truly "professional" work, in contrast to his Yellowstone book, which was, by his own admission, "somewhat amateurish." The fur trade study was something of an accident--an offshoot of the technical reclamation reports and "ordinary literary work" demanded of a War Department engineer with a budding interest in scientific historical writing. Shortly before his death, Chittenden reflected that the most important transition in his life came in 1896 when he was transferred to St. Louis to supervise the Army Corp of Engineers' Missouri River Commis sion . . .

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