The Lewis and Clark Expedition collections at Lewis & Clark College are one of the world’s most complete collections of printed materials on the Lewis & Clark Expedition. The collection began to be assembled by gifts from donors inspired by the name of the institution. One important early gift to the collection was special boxed copy of The Field Notes of Captain William Clark donated by the book’s editor, Ernest Staples Osgood in 1966. Another important gift was an 1814 edition of the Biddle-Allen narrative of Lewis and Clark’s journals in original boards. This rarity was donated by Laurence Shaw of Klamath Falls in 1973.
The majority of the items in the collection come from four major collections assembled by serious Lewis and Clark collectors. The first collection was assembled by Eldon Chuinard, a doctor, and the author of the book, Only One Man Died: The Medical Aspects of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Chuinard’s collection, donated in 1986, was particularly strong in books about nineteenth century science, the scientific aspects of the expedition, and works about Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Rush.
The second collection, and the one that remains the cornerstone of the College’s collections, was assembled by a Portland construction worker named Roger Wendlick. Wendlick began collecting Lewis and Clark books in the 1980s. A bibliomaniac, Wendlick collected every edition of every Lewis and Clark book he could find. He upgraded for better copies when possible. By the late 1990s, Roger had almost every documented Lewis and Clark book, and was acquiring supporting materials like histories of the Indian tribes encountered by Lewis and Clark and the books and maps they consulted and carried. In 1998 Lewis & Clark College acquired Wendlick’s collection through a half-purchase, half-donation arrangement.
To learn more about Wendlick’s life and collecting career:
- Listen to Roger’s story on This American Life: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/137/the-book-that-changed-your-life?act=3
- Read Roger’s autobiography: Shotgun On My Chest: Memoirs of a Lewis and Clark Book Collector. Portland, Or.: 12-Gauge Press, 2009.
In 2000, the family of the Lewis and Clark Expedition scholar, Irving Anderson, donated his library and archive. Anderson’s research focused on Sacagawea and the Charbonneau family. The collection is particularly strong in this area.
The fourth major Lewis and Clark collection was assembled by George H. Tweney (1916-2000). A book seller and collector, Tweney’s library included a number of variant editions that helped fill in gaps in the collection. Most importantly, it included a unique hand-made copy of the Lewis and Clark journals made in the late nineteenth century by the Lewis and Clark scholar Elliott Coues and his secretary Mary Anderson (view the finding aid for the Coues-Anderson manuscript).
Together these Lewis and Clark collections form an extremely rich research collection, which is enhanced by other rare accounts of North American exploration and a collection of books relating to the history of the Pacific Northwest.