The Michael and Margaret B. Harrison Western Research Center Collection

The Book Collection

The collection contains over 21,000 volumes including monographs, serial titles, fine press books, and pamphlets relating to the history of the Trans-Mississippi West.

Subjects in the Collection

Subject strengths of the collection include western state histories, Native Americans, western military history, missions and missionaries, early exploration, Custer and the Battle of the Little Big Horn, national parks, western art, and transportation. Highpoints include the specific collecting of western presses, such as the University of Oklahoma press publications, Arthur Clarke publications, and fine press publications from the Grabhorn Press, Book Club of California, and the Sacramento Book Collectors Club.

Michael Harrison organized his collection under broad subject areas (such as Indians), by publisher (such as University of Oklahoma Press), or by format (such as periodical or map). His arrangement on the shelves followed these categories. A special note in each catalog record indicates the historic subject under which Michael Harrison shelved the item.

Example: See Wood, W. Raymond. Karl Bodmer's studio art. The "Harrison Subject" is "Western Art and Artists."

Examples of Significant Treasures

Special treasures of the collection include the spectacular The North American Indian portfolio set by Edward S. Curtis. Issued in a limited edition from 1907 through 1930, the set contains twenty text volumes and twenty elephantine volumes of photogravure plates, documenting the traditional customs and life ways of eighty Indian tribes. The Harrison copy of Mary Austin's Taos Pueblo (1930) is photographed by Ansel Adams, and is signed both by Austin and Adams with the binding specially designed by Margaret Harrison.

Examples of significant treasures of the collection include:

Michael Harrison seated in his library

Michael Harrison reading a volume from Edward S. Curtis' The North American Indian: being a series of volumes picturing and describing the Indians of the United States and Alaska. [Seattle]: E.S. Curtis: [Cambridge, Mass: The University Press], 1907-1930.

Illustration: Indian Warrior

George Catlin's The North American Indians, 2 vols., Philadelphia: Leary, Stuart and Co., 1913 contains 320 illustrations from Catlin's original paintings.

Illustration: Indians Travelling

Henry Schoolcraft's Information respecting the history, condition, and prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States (1851-57) in six volumes contains S. Eastman plates and is inscribed by Luke Lea, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.

Illustraion: Wa-Na-Ta, Grand Chief of the Sioux

Thomas McKenney's History of the Indian Tribes of North America, 2 vols. Philadelphia: D. Rice & Co., 1872 contains many spectacular Indian portraits.

Illustration: drawing of Sioux warriors on horseback

Hartley Burr Alexander's Sioux Indian Paintings. Nice, France: C. Szwedzicki, 1938. This is one of several portfolios printed by C. Szwedzicki in France in the 1930s. The portfolios were instrumental in promoting Native American art. This portfolio presents traditional Sioux Indian paintings and the drawings of Amos Bad Heart Buffalo.

Illustration: Pottery design Illustration: Pottery design Illustration: Pottery design

Kenneth Chapman's Pueblo Indian Pottery; 50 reproductions in color from specimens in the famous collection of the Indian Arts Fund... 2 vols. Nice, France: C. Szwedzicki [1933-36]. These portfolio volumes present designs from ancient and modern Hopi pottery.

The Harrison Fallout System

Michael Harrison tucked photographs, newspaper clippings, correspondence, publishers' advertisements, and other interesting items into the books that he called his "fallout system," (because items were likely to fall out when one picked up a book). This ephemeral material provides insights about a particular book.

Material found in the book Navaho Trading Days.

Material found in the book Navaho Trading Days.

The fallout material has been moved to acid free folders under the same call number as the book, so as to protect these fragile items. These materials are now called "Accompanying Materials." To determine if a book has Accompanying Materials, look at a Harrison catalog record. Click on Availability All items. Summary holdings will note "See Accompanying Materials File under call number."

Example: Godfrey, Edward Settle. An account of Custer's last campaign... 1968.

The Card Catalog — The Harrison Peculiar System

Mr. Harrison cataloged the collection using his own system, known as the Harrison Peculiar System, creating over 700,000 cards indexing books and articles by author, title, and subjects. His subject card file regularly tracked over 500 different topics. Harrison paid particular attention to indexing western artists and photographers through books and journal articles.

Catalog Card for Oliver L Farge. Places book in "Fiction"

Catalog Card for Oliver L Farge. Places book in "Fiction"

Vince Lozito uses the Harrison Card Catalog

Col. Vince Lozito examines a catalog card record, 2006.