Wood type

I saw this artwork at the new Journalism building at the University of Montana, where I went to school. The artist is Lloyd G. Schermer, the former publisher of the Missoulian, and the sculpture is composed of antique wood type, engravings, and foundry type.

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Two cover designs

I just finished working on a fun little book, Anodynes and Nostrums: A Century of Patent Medicines for Infants and Children.

I usually only work with an image chosen by the author, so the potential for doing something different was very inspiring! I was able to find a bottle of Baby-Ease–one of the patent medicines discussed in the book–at an antique store in town. Sean Girard, my photographer husband, took the photo, and the layout is designed to look like a label on the bottle. The type was inspired by some of the ads run in the book. The title is set in GrekoDeco, and the rest is Artcraft. (I see Artcraft used pretty often, most recently in a board book about an apple farmer.)

The author, Dr. Anita Britt, ended up wanting something with more color, so this is the second go-round, using a vivid image from the text:

The book will be out soon!

Anodynes and Nostrums: A Century of Patent Medicines for Infants and Children by Anita L. Britt, PhD · Los Angeles: Figueroa Press, 2014 · 64 pages · 32 full-color images · paperback · ISBN 978-0-18-217303-7

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A different kind of book

Last month, I designed a board book for my son, who is seventeen months old. Since we do not live near family, I put lots of photos of his aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmas, and grandpas so that he might recognize them when we do see them. It was only twenty-four pages long–a far cry from my usual projects! (It took longer to choose the photos than to lay it out.)

Alas, the quality of the printing and coating was pretty terrible, and the company has refunded my money. They did say that they’re getting new equipment soon, so I’ll try doing another book with them. I love the idea of being able to make my own books!

The first image below are the back cover, spine, and front cover, followed one of the page spreads from the inside. I used bold italic Century Schoolbook for the labels.

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Bagley’s bibliography

New from Will Bagley, historian extraordinaire: 412 pages of bibliographical information for accessing more than 2,500 primary accounts and almost 2,000 secondary sources of emigrants’ experiences on the Oregon and California Trails.

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The winter issue of Overland Journal is at press! One of the articles, “A New Eldorado in California, 1849,” is a chapter from a book that I worked on last year. California Through Russian Eyes, 1806–1848, compiled, translated, and edited by James R. Gibson, is volume 2 in the Arthur H. Clark Company series Early California Commentaries, which is edited by my frequent collaborators Rose Marie Beebe and Robert M. Senkewicz.

About the cover image: Louis Choris, Canis ochropus [latrans] (Coyote), 1818, watercolor. From Eschscholtz, Zoologischer Atlas, plate XI. From 1815 to 1818, Choris, a Russian artist, accompanied a scientific exploration voyage that spent nearly a month in California. While there, Choris sketched and painted a series of plant and animal species, including this realistic interpretation of the coyote. Courtesy of the Alaska and Polar Regions Collections, Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska-Fairbanks.

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Selling out!

The title page of Kootenai Indians of the Columbia Plateau

I got a call from Leonard Brant today. He reported that his book, Kootenai Indians of the Columbia Plateau, is selling very quickly, and he’s only got ten copies left! Jonna and I worked on his book this summer; here’s a look at the dust jacket.

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Finding voice in the Indian Depredation Claims

“It’s a narrative story; it gives pioneers voice,” said author Jeff Broome last week, as I interviewed him on the phone. “Each individual one. And brings them to life. They’ve been lost.”

Back in the late 1700s Congress passed a law that allowed American citizens to make claims against Indian tribes for property that was damaged or stolen in Indian raids. Requirements were tweaked over the decades, and Broome’s latest book, Cheyenne War: Indian Raids on the Roads to Denver, 1864-1869, attempts to capture and record some of the accounts filed over a five-year span. Ariane wrote about this book last summer.

“I think there’s enough in there right now that the critic will say, why is he doing this?” said Broome. He followed up his rhetorical question with, “I just want the truth to come out. This time during the Indian wars when the Indians talk about their land. The view is ‘what a shame, what the Americans did to the Indians,’ but this book puts a new perspective on that.”

According to Broome, a lot of historians have been writing about the events that he refers to as the Cheyenne War, when settlers were traveling the three roads to Denver, through Kansas and Nebraska. First-hand accounts are Broome’s angle in writing the book. He felt that many of the claims were shared amongst families, but not recorded elsewhere. “I’ve been reading stories that have been lost to history,” said Broome. “You know they told their children and grandchildren the stories. That’s the only voice we have of that event.”

Determined to become a new voice, Broome tackled the Indian Depredation Claims in full force. “You can only get these files in Washington, D.C.,” said Broome. “It takes days to accumulate a few. I’ve spent months. I copied over eight feet of claims.”

Numerous National Archive visits allowed Broome to access the files. He pored over them one box at a time, taking ten years to collect the information he needed to write this book.

“By the 1880s there were all kinds of interesting rules and regulations and requirements for a successful claim,” said Broome. “And if it was successful you would be compensated for your property losses.”

However, Broome felt there were many citizens that missed out.
“One requirement was that you had to make your claim within three years,” he said. “They put pressure on Congress in the 1880s to change those laws and let them refile again.”

Once this law was changed, a requirement of having a witness arose. “They had federal agents with the Department of Interior, and they would go out in the field with these claims and interview people to see whether the claims were true,” Broome said.

Many accounts that came out later were wrong, and Broome strove to correct them. He did not want to leave anything out and wanted to ensure he did not make mistakes. To place these events in their proper sequence, Broome double-checked claims with other evidence he could find. He said that many times people filed years after the incident, and recorded dates incorrectly.

“To get the files in chronological order, to understand and visualize where it happened on the roads, and to find, when I could, what kind of responses were made by the military or the Indians, was important,” said Broome. “It seems that the only Indian account we have is George Bent, during this time. He was a half-breed. His dad married a Cheyenne woman and birthed George. Because he was educated at the turn of the century, he wrote hundreds of letters about these events.”

Few Indian voices from the time period Broome studied left him with George Bent as a major resource, along with other linked claims. “I would compare what he says about events to other claims,” said Broome.

For Broome, writing the book was a learning experience, and he discovered that his audience is not just historians, but people interested in their roots.
“It’s a five-hundred-page book; could it have been reduced to three hundred pages?” Broome questioned. “Yeah. I could have eliminated a lot of names and accounts that may not be important. A lot of Americans are interested in their geneology, and I think it’s a field of information where people can find out about their relatives.”

Broome chose Aberdeen Books of Sheridan, Colorado, to work with him on the publishing process.

“I’ve known the publisher,” Broome said. “Actually I was an agent and got him to publish a WWII book, and that is how I first worked with him professionally. I knew he focused on WWII.”

The limited edition, which has marbled boards and cowhide spine and corners, comes in a cloth slipcase.

Fifteen signed and numbered, special-edition books will be coming out soon, as well.

“You know what, by word of mouth, there might only be 3 left,” said Broome. “The publisher is also a book collector – he chose the better boards and binding.”

Excitement was in Broome’s voice as he described the limited edition copies. The spine and corners are bound in dark brown cowhide, with robin’s-egg blue marbled paper and a navy linen slipcase. Each copy is signed by the author and numbered.

“You see them in those libraries and bookshelves – it really looks nice,” he said. “That’s what they did in the nineteenth century. We did those limiteds for serious book collectors. I think they’ve done a top-notch job on that.”

Broome actively promotes his books himself, traveling around the United States to speak at various events.

“I’m speaking in Wyoming this summer, I’m speaking in Kansas in March and again in February, and just when I called you I saw I got an email about speaking in Omaha,” Broome said. “I think authors need to do that in this world.”

Broome explained that two books are produced every three minutes, calculating to over one million per year.

“The market to get someone to read your book is very competitive,” he said. “You just don’t put a book out and sit back and see what the public thinks about it.”

Cheyenne War: Indian Raids on the Roads to Denver, 1864-1869 by Jeff Broome · Sheridan, Colorado: Aberdeen Books, 2013 · 528 pp. · 44 illus plus color folding map · biblio., index · navy linen cloth with gold stamping on spine · color dust jacket · ISBN 978-09713852-4-5 (hardcover), ISBN 978-09713852-5-2 (paperback)

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Merry Christmas 2013

This has been another amazing year. I worked on ten different books–most of which are now complete–and three issues of Overland Journal. We’ve got some very fun projects on the calendar for 2014, including hopefully finishing a book that’s been underway since 2010 (it’s a big one. My biggest one yet, and that is saying something, considering the size of some of my past projects.).

I feel so lucky to work with my many collaborators, including my production editor, Jonna; the historians at the front of their fields, like Will Bagley and Richard Saunders; the editors and production team at the University of Oklahoma Press, who make my work so enjoyable; and my support gang, including Bob and Sheila Clark and Marlene Smith-Baranzini. I’m looking forward to next year and the opportunities that will come!

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Glyph possibilities

One of the things that I love to play with is the different glyphs that come in a well designed font. Here’s an example, from the inside of this year’s Christmas cards.

This typeface, Feldman Engraver, has lots of nice alternate letters: see how the ‘h’ in ‘wishing’ is different from the ‘h’ in ‘the’, and the ‘a’ in ‘capital’ is different from the ‘a’ that follows.

Other examples of alternates include ligatures for letter combinations like ‘fi’, ‘ft’, and ‘ff’, lining and tabular figures, and small caps (like in ‘LLC’ here). It takes extra time to do this, but it’s one of the subtle things that elevates type into a really special design.

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Cover detail

The Fall issue of Overland Journal is at the printer and will go out to OCTA members the week after Christmas. Bob Clark has retired as the editor–the first time since 2002 that I have not been working for him in some form!–and I’m happy to be working with our new editor, Marlene Smith-Baranzini. She was the associate editor of California History, the quarterly of the California Historical Society, but left the position before I worked on it. We both copy-edited The Governor: The Life and Legacy of Leland Stanford, and I learned so much about being an editor from reviewing her works–what to change and, more importantly, what to leave alone. Since then she has become a very trusted colleague (and fun person to meet up with when I’m in California!).

The first article in this issue of OJ is fur-trade oriented, thus this lovely cover image. I loved the detail of the mule in the background, but it became hard to see when I shrank the image down enough to fit the whole thing on the cover. Yet the whole painting is so beautiful, and we wanted our readers to see the whole thing, too! So we are running both versions–the striking cropped version on the front cover, so we can see the nitty gritty of the trappers’ work in the river, and the full version on the back, where the bend in the river and the mountains in the distance are visible. I just love how it turned out.

Here’s the full info on the cover image, from the Fall issue: Alfred J. Miller, Trapping Beaver, ca. 1858–1860, watercolor on paper, 8.9 by 13.8 in. Courtesy the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Md. In 1837 the European-trained artist A. J. Miller (1810–1874) made his first journey into in the American West with a hunting party, creating quick, accurate sketches that he would later render in his Baltimore studio.

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