Cody was a complex man who greatly contributed to the settlement of the frontier and our perceptions of the American West.
Cody, Wyoming (PRWEB) April 29, 2012
At the turn of the twentieth century, William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody and Mark Twain were probably the two most recognizable personalities on the face of the earth—and the two most animated, for that matter. With much to say, and even more written about them, the volume of their personal papers is astounding. The University of California at Berkeley has housed Twain’s papers since 1949, and in 2007, the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming, joined suit as it formed the "Papers of William F. Cody."
Currently, the Center houses 140 cubic feet (the equivalent of 50, four-drawer filing cabinets) of significant historical material related to its namesake. Not unlike the Thomas Edison papers at Rutgers or the Ben Franklin papers at Yale, these papers present a broader picture of this icon of the American West.
Early on, the Papers joined forces with the University of Nebraska Press to reprint historic volumes related to the life and times of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody. Scholars from around the world are editing and annotating these volumes. Chris Dixon, University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, edited the first book, "Four Years in Europe with Buffalo Bill" by Charles Eldridge Griffin, a sideshow performer who ate flaming sticks and swallowed swords. Griffin’s account details Buffalo Bill’s Wild West tour through Europe, 1902 – 1906, and offers an interesting perspective on how ths show's performers viewed Europeans and how Europe viewed the Wild West. Only 500 copies of Griffin’s book were published in 1908, but it is now readily available through the Papers series.
William F. Cody’s 1879 autobiography is the second publication of the Papers of William F. Cody. This volume has been reprinted numerous times, but this is the first annotated version thanks to Dr. Frank Christianson, Brigham Young University, who edited and wrote an introduction to this new edition and included letters, stage reviews, and other historical material in the appendix. Recently, staffers presented copies of these two volumes to the Coe Library at the University of Wyoming, the Wyoming State Library, and all the Wyoming community college libraries.
Coming this fall from the University of Nebraska Press are "The Wild West in England by William F. Cody," edited by Frank Christianson, and "Buffalo Bill From Prairie to Palace" by John M. Burke, Cody’s publicist, edited by Chris Dixon. The books are available—with this fall’s books ready for pre-order—at http://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu.
The project has also developed a digital archive through a collaborative project with the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities at the University of Nebraska under the direction of Senior Digital Editor Dr. Douglas Seefeldt. This site, http://www.codyarchive.org, contains letters, posters, photos, programs, and other historical material related to William F. Cody and his legacy.
"The biggest misconception about Cody is that he was a frontier rube, who couldn’t read or write, and he just happened to hit the ‘big-time’ and became an international celebrity,” Johnston believes. “This was a complex man who greatly contributed to the settlement of the frontier and our perceptions of the American West. To dismiss him as a sham or a simple caricature of a frontiersman is a serious oversight."
Committed to connecting people with the Spirit of the American West, the Buffalo Bill Historical Center weaves the varied threads of the western experience—history and myth, art and Native culture, firearms technology and Yellowstone natural history—into the rich panorama that is the American West. The Center, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is now operating its spring schedule, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily. On May 1, its summer season goes into effect, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily. For general information, visit http://www.bbhc.org, or call 307.587.4771.