The original 1836 Warren Ferris map now digitized!

Warren Ferris’s 1836 “Map of the Northwest Fur Country”

If you are making your plans to celebrate Pioneer Day, if you live in Utah, or just want to hear stories of hidden treasures, this one is for you!

Now, you may be thinking, “Wait!  You have treasure maps in Special Collections!”  Well…not exactly.  But some of our treasurers are maps, and some of them used to be hidden from the world, often for decades.  Such is the case of the original 1836 Warren Ferris map, which Ferris titled “Map of the Northwest Fur Country.”  Warren Ferris was one of many trappers, or mountain men, who traversed the Northern and Central Rocky Mountains in the 1820s and 1830s in search for beaver and other sources of fur. Through their travels across these wilderness areas, these men became intimately familiar with the topography of the land, and some, like Ferris, even created maps of the area. While the maps were done with rudimentary means, many were still quite detailed and accurate, to an extent.

In 1835 and 1836, Warren Ferris returned from a five-year sojourn as a trapper in the Rocky Mountains, and decided to draw, by hand, a map of a major portion of a largely unsettled portion of the West, with what would later be Utah at the center.  The map spans from the eastern slopes of the Colorado Rockies and extend west to include the junction of the Snake and Salmon Rivers, now in Idaho. It extends from the upper Missouri River down to the Grand Canyon area. Ferris intended to publish the map along with the journal that he had kept during those years. Most of the journal ended up being published through a small weekly publication out of Buffalo, New York, called the Western Literary Messenger. The map, however, was not published with it, and remained unseen by the public until the publication of Life in the Rocky Mountains in 1940 by Fred A. Rosenstock’s Old West Publishing Company out of Denver, which included Ferris’s journal from 1830-1835 in one publication for the first time.  Even then, it only included a copy of the map. So, where was the original?

In the process of creating this publication, the original map had come into the possession of Rosenstock, a collector of documents and books related to Western Americana, and owned Bargain Book Store in Denver. This map was part of a large collection of documents related to Warren Ferris and his family. This collection was purchased from Rosenstock by BYU’s Lee Library in 1982. It is unclear if those who purchased this collection knew what was in the collection at the time. But, the story goes that when going through the collection in Denver, there was a seemingly insignificant paper tube that was near the rest of the collection. When asked if this went with the collection, the Rosenstock staff assumed so, and it went with the papers to BYU. It was not until later that the tube was opened, and much to the surprise and delight of whoever made the discovery, inside was a beautifully preserved, hand-drawn map of the inter-mountain west–the original 1836 Warren Ferris map!  This map had barely seen the light of day since it was created in 1836, and a copy of it had only been released to the public about 40 years before.

Since it’s discovery, the map has been thoroughly examined, and even a Master’s thesis has been written on it. But all who have seen it agree that it is undoubtedly the best preserved fur trade map around, and the only existing map from the rendezvous era!  It provides amazing details of the rivers and lakes of the region, including some place names, often provided by Ferris himself. Included are early descriptions of the area that is now Yellowstone National Park. Ferris is actually thought to be the

first “tourist” to visit this area, doing so under the guidance of some local Native tribesmen. Much of the area can easily be identified today, although the map may not be to scale or accurate as we see today. More than anything else, it provides a window into the world of mountain men, allowing us to see this region through their eyes.

And, now, this map is available for the world to see online for all to explore!  To view this map, click on the linked text to the right, or go to the following website:

Maybe this week you can spend some time trying to find features of this area of that you know and love, and get a sense for what it may have been like to see this area as a mountain men, more than a decade before Brigham Young and his pioneer wagon train entered the Salt Lake Valley.

New acquisitions: Printing proofs for the Kelmscott Chaucer

Special Collections recently acquired five printing proofs of wood engravings from William Morris’ masterpiece, the 1896 Works of Chaucer. The illustrations were designed by Victorian artist Edward Burne-Jones, and then would have been transferred to blocks of wood by Robert Catterson-Smith and then engraved by William Harcourt Hopper. These proofs would have been created as drafts of creating and printing the entire page composition, which includes the illustration, woodblock borders, and type. The proof shown here corresponds to page 452 of the Chaucer, from “The House of Fame.” The proof has been initialed by Burne-Jones and includes small penciled comments about the image in the margins. The proofs are available for research in the Special Collections reading room, as is our copy of the Kelmscott Chaucer and other works from the Kelmscott Press.

Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor

This week in 1519, Charles, King of Spain and Duke of Burgundy, was elected Holy Roman Emperor. Charles V succeeded his paternal grandfather Maximilian I (his maternal grandparents were Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain). Charles’ reign saw immense change across Europe, including the launch of the Protestant Reformation, major political and religious conflicts, and the Spanish conquest of the Aztec and Inca empires.

Special Collections owns a number of important works related to Charles V and his reign, including printed histories, laws, treaties, and a number of manuscripts and correspondence issued by the emperor or his government. This letter (Call number: VMSS 247), which is dated 9 March 1521, was written from Charles V to Rodrigo Ponce de León, Duke of Arcos. It mentions the Duke’s work to quell tensions in Seville, Spain during the Revolt of the Comuneros, a 1520-1521 uprising against Charles’ rule that was mostly confined to the region of Castile.

The Giunti and the Medici

As part of the History of Printing and Renaissance/Reformation Collections, Special Collections has acquired numerous examples of the work of the Giunti family, a prominent Italian printing dynasty of the 15th and 16th centuries. The family’s printing business extended across Europe, with presses in Venice, Florence, and Lyon and a book distribution network which spread from Spain to Germany. In Florence, the Giunti press was closely tied to the ruling Medici family, and printed many pamphlets and laws issued by the duchy. The law pictured here was issued by Grand Duke Cosimo I de Medici, who was born this day five hundred years ago. The portrait of Cosimo, also printed by the Giunti, comes from a pamphlet commemorating his funeral in 1574.




Julia Ward Howe

May 27 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of American writer and activist Julia Ward Howe. Howe is perhaps best remembered today as the author of “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” but during her lifetime, she was acclaimed as a poet, lecturer, abolitionist, and advocate for the rights of women. She helped to found several women’s suffrage organizations and other clubs and advocacy groups.

Shown here is a commemorative item (VMSS 537) celebrating Howe’s birthday and the founding of the New England Women’s Club, which Howe helped to establish in May 1868. Howe has signed it and addressed it to Mrs. Mary J. Judah. The Greek inscription lauds Howe as a “Poetess/Philosopher/Philanthropist.”


Gifts from Queen Victoria

Friday, May 24, 2019 marks the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria. The Victorian Collection here at L. Tom Perry Special Collections contains a wealth of material about the Queen and her life, as well as a number of documents signed and written by Victoria herself. In honor of her birthday, we’re sharing a gallery of books from the collection once given by the Queen as gifts! Details about these items can be found in the bibliography of the David Magee Collection — just search on Victoria’s name.

Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass”: The Unpublished Art of Maynard Dixon

May 31 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of one of the foremost poets in American literature, Walt Whitman. To celebrate, Special Collections is exhibiting one of its most unique items from our Walt Whitman Collection: a suite of tempera paintings by Maynard Dixon, which were intended to illustrate a never-published edition of Whitman’s poetry collection, Leaves of Grass.

Dixon (1875-1946) created these illustrations between 1929 and 1933. He was living in San Francscio at the time and may have been encouraged in the project by the distinguished fine press printers Edwin and Robert Grabhorn, who were working on their own edition of the book around the same period (the Grabhorn edition, which they considered one of their finest works, can also be found in Special Collections). The Dixon Leaves of Grass collection consists of 18 pieces, including seven tempera paintings measuring approximately 6 x 9 inches, and eleven smaller drawings in tempera and ink. Eight of these are on display in the small case exhibit on display in the Special Collections Reference area this month.


New exhibit to celebrate the builders of the First Transcontinental Railroad!


This month the sounds of train whistles and the puffs of steam engines will fill the air in Utah, celebrating 150 years since the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad. We here at the L. Tom Perry Special Collections also wish to do our part in acknowledging this important historical event and its impact on Utah and the American West. Along with the current exhibit “Since the Golden Spike: 150 years of Utah railroad history” on display in our main gallery, we are pleased announce a new smaller exhibit titled “Road to Promontory: Planning and Building the Pacific Railroad.”  This exhibit showcases the amazing engineering and building feats it took to complete the First Transcontinental Railroad (aka Pacific Railroad) in 1869.

A focus of this exhibit is not only what was accomplished by the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads, but how, including the contribution of those, like the Chinese, Irish, and other minority groups, who have gotten little recognition over the past 150 years. This exhibit also acknowledges the impact the railroad had on this land’s native people. While the railroad allowed for safer travel to and through the American West, and boosted economic opportunity, it also spelled the eventual demise of Native Americans and their way of living. To best honor the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, it is important to recognize all sides of the story and all who were involved or effected in its construction.

Also shown are examples of various routes that were proposed for the Pacific Railroad, including an original map and several others viewable digitally on an iPad.  There are also handouts with lists of selected events to celebrate the anniversary in general, as well as events focusing on honoring the Chinese railroad workers. For other events , visit:

This exhibit will be on display in the Entrance Lobby to Special Collections until the end of May 2019. If you are looking for ways to celebrate the sesquicentennial of the completion of the TCRR this month, this is a perfect place to start. You may even see a “golden spike”!


New Book of Mormon Exhibit

We are pleased to announce a new exhibit now on display in L. Tom Perry Special Collections. It is titled “The Book of Mormon in Church History,” and it showcases early significant editions of the Book of Mormon, including an 1830 First Edition, and 1837, 1840, and 1920 editions, with explanations of uinique changes or corrections made. Also shown are various documents related to the history of the Book of Mormon, including a handwritten copy of the 1829 revelation to Martin Harris regarding the calling of Three Witnesses (now D&C); a journal kept by Hyrum Smith where he records selling copies of the Book of Mormon in Kirtland in the 1830s; and documents from the James E. Talmage papers related to his work on the 1920 Book of Mormon Committee.

This exhibit will be on display in the Reading Room in Special Collections until the end of April 2019. Come see this new exhibit and learn more about the early history of the Book of Mormon!

Art Nouveau Bindings for National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month, and to celebrate, we’ve created a gallery of some rather gorgeous poetry books. The bookbindings shown here were all designed in the art nouveau style, and published between 1880 and 1910. Art nouveau features long, flowing lines, inspired by organic forms. It was popular in decorative arts of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods in both Europe and America.

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