A Southwestern Century:

A Bibliography of One Hundred Books of
Non Fiction about the Southwest

chosen and annotated by
Lawrence Clark Powell

Originally published in 1958 by J. E. Reynolds, Bookseller

Dedicated to the memory of
Phil Townsend Hanna


The welcome given my bibliography called Heart of the Southwest led to this companion list of nonfiction about the same region. "You have given us the best works of fiction," readers declared, "now give us the best works of fact." This implies that fact is better than fiction. What is best is truthfulness to life, and sometimes an inspired novelist comes closer to it than so-called factual writers. To achieve lasting literature, fictional or factual, a writer needs perceptive vision, absorptive capacity, and creative strength.

In choosing, I have sought the works which in my taste and judgment best embody the special qualities and characteristics of the lands lying west of the Pecos, north of the Border, south of the Mesa Verde and the Grand Canyon, and east of the mountains which wall off Southern California and make it a land in itself. For twenty-five years I have been reading and writing about the books of the Southwest, and for an even longer time I have been living the life of a Southwesterner, based in Southern California and making entradas into the lands of the sun and little rain where, as Ross Calvin said, Sky Determines. These are the lands I love best, and these are the books which seem to me best to represent the things about them which make so many of us homesick when we are exiled elsewhere on earth.

Of the making of bibliographies there is no end, and mine is another link in the chain which binds writers and readers together. I have profited from the work of other compilers, but I have not let my choices be determined by theirs. I believe this is the first Southwest bibliography to be limited to a hundred books. It is harder to narrow than to widen the field. To extract the essence is always a laborious process, and in this instance was also a joyous one.

In answer to the inevitable question as to why I included this and omitted that, I will reply only that this is my choice, conditioned by my own inescapable biases of taste and judgment, and that there is nothing on earth to prevent you from making your choice--and taking the critical consequences, as I am prepared to do.

If I were to classify the selections my headings would include History and Travel, Biography and Memoirs, Natural History, the Range, Arts and Crafts, Archaeology and Ethnology. Emphasis is on primary source works rather than on secondary versions. There does not seem to be a comprehensive work on Geology and Mining in the Southwest, including the rush for uranium, nor is there a book about the proliferation of the urban centers--two powerful factors of determination. There is also an understandable lack of popular literature about atomic bomb development in New Mexico.

It is noteworthy that although only eighteen women writers are among the hundred, of the five authors who are represented by two works each, four are women. The University of Oklahoma Press with eleven choices leads a total of fifty-one publishers, followed by the University of New Mexico Press with seven.

Henry R. Wagner, dead last spring in his ninety-fifth year, was the dean of Southwestern bibliographers, and his The Spanish Southwest and The Plains and the Rockies are cornerstones in the field. Mary Tucker's Books of the Southwest is the best single bibliography of the Indian, Spanish, and Anglo periods, arranged by subjects, and Lyle Saunders' Guide to Materials Bearing on Cultural Relations in New Mexico is the best bibliography about a single state; Francis Farquhar's Books of the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon the best about a single area. A good work on a single subject is Ramon F. Adams' Six Guns and Saddle Leather, a bibliography of bad-man literature. J. C. Dykes' Billy the Kid: the Bibliography of a Legend is a model work on a single person. J. Frank Dobie's Guide to Life and Literature of the Southwest, though strong on Texas and the range, weakens as it moves west; yet it has more color and flavor and personal authority than any other work of its kind. Glen Dawson's priced and indexed catalog, Southwest Books, is useful as a guide to values, although it also includes items from the Northwest to the South Pacific. Mildred Harrington's The Southwest in Children's Literature is an excellent bibliography of juveniles. Rader's South of Forty, Campbell's Book Lover's Southwest, and Kurtz's Literature of the American Southwest feature "shotgun bibliography," which means firing broadside without knowing precisely what has been hit, and Campbell ludicrously rules Arizona out of the Southwest.

The reports of the great nineteenth century government surveys and expeditions are encyclopedias of the Western expansion. Because of their bulk, their costliness, and their general availability in libraries, I have not included the War Department's thirteen-volume Reports of Explorations and Surveys to Ascertain the Most Practicable and Economical Route for a Railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, 1855-60; Wheeler's twelve-volume, plus four volumes of atlas and album of fifty photographs, U. S. Geographical Surveys West of the 100th Meridian, 1873-84; Emory's Report on the United States and Mexican Boundary Survey, 1857; Ives' Report upon the Colorado River of the West, 1861; Simpson's Report of the Route from Fort Smith, Arkansas to Santa Fé, New Mexico, 1857; Sitgreave's Report of an Expedition down the Zuñi and Colorado Rivers, 1861; Powell's Exploration of the Colorado River of the West and Its Tributaries. Explored in 1869, 1870, 1871, and 1872. These expeditions are described by Wallace in The Great Reconnaissance, cited later.

F. W. Hodge's Handbook of the American Indians North of Mexico, 1907-10, published by the Bureau of American Ethnology, is another of those monumental reference works now virtually procurable only in libraries, and which is listed here as an item hors concours. The shades of Hodge and Bolton hover over every Southwest work undertaken since their time, and this bibliography is no exception.

Several modern series are of an importance to warrant the collector obtaining them complete; they include the Quivira Society Publications, the Coronado Cuarto Centennial volumes, and the several western series published by the University of Oklahoma Press, a number of whose items I have included.

Rarity has not been among my criteria; rather, readability, fidelity to the region, and sincerity of presentation are the qualities I have placed above all others. When there are several editions of a work, I have chosen the modern one as being the most readily available to readers through bookstores and libraries, and have also referred to the original edition for those who wish to ascend the bibliographical stream to the source. The arrangement is alphabetical by author, or, in a few cases, by title. Strict classification by subject is impractical for works of broad coverage.

I have sought to make my choices representative of the entire culture of a region which has had many masters in a few hundred years, whose talismans are turquoise and uranium, and whose destiny reaches from the Great Drought of the thirteenth century to the Great Bomb of the twentieth, and beyond to what no one can foresee. Yet whatever the fate of man, and barring a cosmic cataclysm, the land itself, the colored and configured earth we call the Southwest, will surely be there to the end, perhaps unpeopled, yet ever beautiful in itself.

Here then is one man's choice, a Southwestern Century, offered to those who believe that the reading of books will never end and who, in a respite from living, like to savor the experiences and thoughts of those who ventured widely, saw clearly, and wrote well.

And finally comes the pleasant duty of acknowledging the help I have received. Thanks are due first of all to Raymond Carlson, editor of Arizona Highways, in which this bibliography first appeared, for prompting me to compile it, and for permission to reprint it. Betty Rosenberg, my bibliographical assistant in the UCLA Library, has aided me throughout by her energy, knowledge, and good humor, as have Everett T. Moore, Robert E. Fessenden, and other members of the staff. J. E. Reynolds, my publisher and friend, made helpful suggestions from his wide knowledge of the field, and his wife Rosalie provided us with more than food for thought. My work has benefitted from the help of Patricia Paylore, assistant librarian of the University of Arizona and native daughter of the Southwest, and of her colleague, Donald M. Powell, no less ardent a Southwesterner though an adopted hijo de pais. Friends in the Zamorano Club have whirled me about the Wednesday round table, on a kind of bibliographical carrousel calculated to dizzy all but the hardiest. So many deadweight tons of books have been carried in an out of our home, and so many social amenities sacrificed to the dragon of the deadline, that my debts to my wile Fay can never be repaid, much less enumerated in a note such as this. Although it is too late for me to mend my bibliographical ways, I want her to know of my gratitude for her patience.

The text for A Southwestern Century has been reformatted from a copy donated to The University of Arizona Library by Lawrence Clark Powell, who has graciously provided copyright for this republication.

© 1997 The University of Arizona Library

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Last updated 26 August 1997