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February 28th, 2013

Today, designated as Linus Pauling Day in Oregon by Governor Kitzhaber, we join our colleagues in celebrating the two-time laureate and OSU's most famous alumni. The public is invited to attend two campus events on Thursday, February 28: The Special Collections and Archives Research Center (SCARC) will offer a tour of the Pauling Papers from 11 am to noon on the 5th floor of the Valley Library, and a lunch and tour of the The Linus Pauling Institute begins at noon. For more details, read the coverage in The Oregonian and  Life@OSU.

Here at thHTLL covere Press, we're please to share three important Pauling books.

How to Life Longer and Feel Better, Pauling's classic prescription for healthy living, is one of OSUP's perennial bestsellers. In recent years, the book has been published in Czech and Chinese language editions.

Clifford Mead and Thomas Hager collaborated on Linus Pauling:Linus Pauling cover Scientist and Peacemakera "stunning tapestry of Pauling's life and work (Publishers Weekly)." The volume gathers photographs, drawings, and reproductions from the Ava and Linus Pauling Papers as well as words from Pauling and his contemporaries and students to paint a vivid portrait of a remarkable man. 

Mina CarsonAva Helen Pauling cover's long-awaited biography of the complex Ava Helen Pauling is an important addition to the literature on women's and family history as well as her famous spouse, Linus Pauling. Ava Helen Pauling: Partner, Activist, Visionary shares the fascinating history behind one of the great love stories of the twentieth century and the personal story of Ava Helen's own career as an activist first for civil rights and liberties, then against nuclear testing, and finally for peace, feminism, and environmental stewardship. Learn more about the book's development and watch Carson's Resident Scholar Lecture, "Hidden in Plain Sight: The Life of Ava Helen Pauling."

All three books are available for purchase online.

In addition, today the Special Collections and Archives Research Center (SCARC) announced the soft launch of a new documentary site in development: Linus Pauling and the Structure of Proteins.

To learn more about Linus Pauling, visit the Pauling Blog and Linus Pauling Online.


February 1st, 2013

We're pleased to share a preview of five more books coming this spring from OSU Press.

Land Snails coverLand Snails and Slugs of the Pacific Northwest, the long-awaited, comprehensive guide to snails and slugs of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and western Montana, will finally be available to naturalists in need  of a definitive reference. Author Thomas E. Burke includes 280 full-color photographs by William P. Leonard, plus range maps, identification keys, and species accounts for most species.

With California Condors in the Pacific Northwest, Jesse D'Elia Condors coverand Susan M. Haig have created a vital reference documenting the iconic avian scavenger's history in the Pacific Northwest and exploring the challenges—and possibilities—of reintroduction. The book includes a foreword by leading condor researcher Noel Snyder and illustrations by Ram Papish.

Escaping coverIn his autobiography, Escaping into Nature: The Making of a Sportsman-Conservationist and Environmental Historian, wildlife conservationist and environmental historian John Reiger shares his story of finding a cause and a calling rooted in his love of angling and hunting. Reiger, who found solace in nature as a young boy in an abusive family setting, interrupted his career as an academic to serve as director of the Connecticut Audubon Society. His story illuminates an important aspect of the United States' history.

Philosopher Charles J. List examines whether hunting and List coverfishing—when understood and practiced in an ethical manner—lead to the development of environmental virtue in his new book, Hunting, Fishing, and Environmental Virtue: Reconnecting Sportsmanship and Conservation.

Holdfast coverAnd OSU Press is pleased to bring back into print Kathleen Dean Moore's classic collection of essays, Holdfast: At Home in the Natural World. Her new afterword to this edition makes an important statement about the new responsibilities of nature writers as the world faces the consequences of climate change. Join us for a celebration of the book on May 11, 2013, 7 pm, at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library's Community Meeting Room.


S13 Catalog cover

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Our complete spring catalog is available for download. Request a print copy by e-mail.

Interested in periodic updates from OSU Press? We invite you to join our e-mail list.

January 25th, 2013

We're pleased to introduce nine new books this spring. Here's part one of our sneak preview...

Lincoln coverHot off the press (just in time for Lincoln's birthday) is historian Richard Etulain's new book Lincoln and Oregon Country Politics in the Civil War Era. Join us for a publication celebration on Sunday, February 24 at 2 pm at the Oregon Historical Society.

Stream ecologist Judith L. Li's new book for children, Ellie's Log: Exploring the Forest Where the Great Tree Fell, features the explorations of ten-year-old Ellie and her friend, Ricky, in the forest where Ellie lives. Rich illustrations by M. L. Herring describe the forest visually, and pages from Ellie's own field notebook provide a model to readers for keeping their own log book of scientific Ellie's Log coverobservation. An accompanying Teacher's Guide and website will provide rich resources for classroom and home use.

Mina Carson's long-awaited biography of the complex Ava Helen Pauling is an important addition to the literature on women's and family history as well as her famous spouse, Linus Pauling. Ava Helen Pauling: Partner, Activist, Visionary shares the fascinating history behind one of the great love stories of the twentieth century and the personal story of Ava Helen's own career as an activist firstAva Helen Pauling cover for civil rights and liberties, then against nuclear testing, and finally for peace, feminism, and environmental stewardship.

R. Gregory Nokes, author of Massacred for Gold: The Chinese in Hells Canyon, turns his engaging storytelling style to another little-known subject in Oregon history. Drawing on the court record, Nokes shares an Breaking Chainsintimate account of Missouri slaves Robin and Polly Holmes, who were promised freedom in exchange for being brought to Oregon to develop their owner's Willamette Valley farm. Breaking Chains: Slavery on Trail in the Oregon Country tells the story of the only slavery case adjudicated in Oregon's pre-Civil War courts and, through the lens of this landmark case, explores the historical context of racism in Oregon and the West.

S13 Catalog coverOur complete spring catalog is available for download. Request a print copy by e-mail. To receive periodic news from OSU Press, join our e-mail list.



December 5th, 2012

In 1902, the federal government opened the Sherman Institute in Riverside, California, to transform American Indian students into productive farmers, carpenters, homemakers, nurses, cooks, and seamstresses. The Indian School on Magnolia Avenue: Voices and Images from Sherman Institute, edited by Clifford E. Trafzer, Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert, and Lorene Sisquoc, tells the story of this flagship institution and features the voices of those who attended the school. The book is the first collection of writings and images focused on an off-reservation Indian boarding school. Contributors to the volume draw upon documents held at the Sherman Indian Museum to explore topics such as the building of Sherman, the school's Mission architecture, the nursing program, the Special Five-Year Navajo Program, the Sherman cemetery, and a photo essay depicting life at the school. In the following excerpt from the conclusion, Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert discusses his time spent conducting research in thIndian School covere Museum's archival vault and his experience bringing his findings back to Hopi alumni of the Sherman Institute. 

[This excerpt is cross-posted at First Peoples New Directions.]

An Open Vault
by Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

On a warm October day in 2004, I drove my car south on Magnolia Avenue in Riverside and made my way to Sherman Indian High School for the Sherman Indian Museum Open House. The event was a festive occasion, as alumni from across the nation came together to remember their school days and visit with old friends. Outside the Museum, the school’s choir was singing their alma mater, “The Purple and Gold,” and a group of older Sherman alums were taking refuge from the heat by sitting in the shade of a large palm tree. Near the school’s flagpole, children were laughing and playing, while their parents listened contentedly to the choir. The smell of frybread permeated the air.

When I walked inside the Museum, I saw people looking at old black and white photographs that hung on the walls. Another group of former students were flipping through the school’s large collection of yearbooks as they searched for themselves, friends, or relatives. Others stood peering into a glass cabinet, attempting to read the names etched on the school’s collection of trophy cups and medals. And in a side room at the east end of the Museum, Jean Keller was talking about her new book on student health at Sherman Institute. She was sharing at length about her work at the Museum and the documents she had uncovered in the vault. Jean says more about this in her book Empty Beds:

"The documents at the Sherman Indian Museum remain as they were when placed in the vault as long ago as 1902. Tissue pages of letterpress books remain stuck together by ink not completely dried when closed; loose documents are packaged in brown paper and tied with red ribbon. Lori Sisquoc (Fort Sill Apache/Cahuilla), curator of the Sherman Institute Museum, and I opened these records with care and wonder, cognizant of the incredible fact that we were the first to peruse these records of history since they were created lifetimes ago." [1]

I still remember the first time I stepped inside the Museum vault. I was a new graduate student at the University of California, Riverside, and I had come to the Museum to research Hopis who attended the school. Inside the vault, Lori Sisquoc, Director of the Museum, showed me documents of all kinds, including the administrative letterpress books that Keller consulted for her book. Lori told me that school officials such as Harwood Hall and Frank Conser used the books to make copies of their letters. Hall and Conser addressed the letters to students, their parents, high-ranking U.S. government officials, and superintendents of other off-reservation Indian boarding schools. Apart from the documents, items in the vault included photographs, pottery, and beautiful paintings.

ZeyoumaDuring my graduate program, I returned to the vault on many occasions. When I was an intern at the Museum, I made a digital catalog of the vault’s one hundred trophy cups. While the school’s football and track teams had won several of these trophies, others belonged to individual students. Since my research centered on Hopis, I was on the alert for items in the Museum’s vault that related to the Hopi people. It did not take long for me to come across and catalogue trophies that Hopi students had won. Hopi runner Philip Zeyouma from the village of Mishongovi on Second Mesa won two first-place trophy cups in the collection. Zeyouma is known for winning the Los Angeles Times Modified Marathon in April 1912. His victory earned him an opportunity to run in the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden, but instead of competing, he returned home to his village community on the reservation.[2]

The school and the Museum’s collections have special meaning for Native people. While the U.S. government created Sherman to weaken American Indian cultures and assimilate indigenous people into mainstream American society, Native students learned to navigate through federal Indian policies, and many of the students took advantage of their time at the school. My grandfather, Victor Sakiestewa, Sr. from Orayvi and Upper Moencopi, along with his brothers and sisters, were among the first group of Hopi students to attend Sherman in the early 1900s. By examining documents in the vault, I learned that my grandfather received high marks in the school’s Laundry Department,[3] and his sister, Blanche, worked as a housekeeper in the girls dormitory, the Minnehaha Home.[4] This information may seem insignificant to some scholars, but it provides my family with a glimpse of the early experiences of my grandfather and his sister at the Indian school in Riverside.

Providing Hopis with documents that I uncovered in the Museum’s vault was an important part of my research.[5] Not long after I started graduate school, I received permission from the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office to conduct interviews on the Hopi Reservation with former Hopi students. One of the people I interviewed was Samuel Shingoitewa, from the village of Upper Moencopi, who went to Sherman in the 1920s. Since many Hopis of his generation have fond memories of the orange groves that once surrounded the school, I brought him two bags of oranges from Riverside.[6] He was tired and hard of hearing when I interviewed him, but his mind was sharp. He told me about the military structure of the school and how he had earned the rank of “Expert Harness Maker,” an accomplishment that still evoked pride in his voice.[7] As our time together came to a close, I handed him a folder of short articles that he had published in The Sherman Bulletin, the school’s official student-written newspaper.[8] One was about the need for his peers at Sherman to take good care of their shoes, while a second focused on his involvement in the school’s harness shop.

Later in the afternoon I traveled east to the village of Bacavi on Third Mesa to interview Bessie Humetewa (Talasitewa) who went to Sherman from 1920 to 1928. During our interview, Bessie mentioned that she had stayed at Sherman “all eight years without coming home.” She recalled how her mother wept when government officials loaded her and a group of other Hopis on a wagon for Winslow, Arizona. Still feeling the pain of that moment, Bessie said that once they arrived in Winslow, they boarded a Santa Fe train for Southern California. As she recalled these details, she reminded me that Hopi mothers rarely showed this level of emotion in public.[9] While her departure to Sherman Institute was traumatic, Bessie learned to adapt and excel at the school. She made new friends, but always kept close to other Hopis from her community. At the end of the interview, I asked Bessie if she remembered any of the Hopis who joined her in Riverside. I thought she would perhaps mention a few people, but amazingly she spent the next several minutes naming every Hopi student by village, beginning with students from Bacavi.

I was not surprised when Bessie recalled the names of each Hopi student according to their village. Bessie and her peers originated from close, tightknit communities where they established and reaffirmed their identity as Hopi people by their clan and village affiliations. In the 1920s, Hopis traveled to Southern California from one of twelve autonomous villages on three mesas in northeastern Arizona. Some came from Walpi on First Mesa, Shungopavi on Second Mesa, and the ancient village of Orayvi on the southernmost tip of Third Mesa. Still others left for school from the small farming village of Moencopi near Tuba City, Arizona. Although every Hopi who attended Sherman had a close affiliation with the school, they never lost their association with their village.

I used most of my research in the Museum’s vault to write a dissertation, articles, and eventually a book. But just before I graduated from the University of California, Riverside, I had an unexpected opportunity to co-produce a thirty-minute documentary film on the Hopi boarding school experience that I titled Beyond the Mesas.[10] I co-produced the documentary with film director Allan Holzman, a retired medical doctor from Pennsylvania named Gerald Eichner, and members of the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office.[11] Once again I traveled back home to interview Hopis who went to off-reservation Indian boarding schools, including the Phoenix Indian School, the Ganado Mission School in Arizona, and Sherman Institute. The Museum’s vault played a major role in the production of Beyond the Mesas: Holzman and I spent several hours filming black and white photographs in the vault’s Veva Wight Photograph Collection for inclusion in the documentary. Wight was a Protestant missionary who led Bible studies and other Christian activities at the school. She served as one of the school’s “Religious Workers” during the 1920s and 1930s. One of the photographs that we used showed twenty Hopi girls kneeling and standing near the school’s flagpole. Another photograph was of two Hopi girls embracing each other in front of the school chapel.

My experience at the Sherman Indian Museum has left a lasting influence on me as a Hopi person. I learned the value of working together with many individuals associated with the Museum, students and faculty at the University of California, Riverside, and my community on the Hopi Reservation. Although a growing number of students and scholars, including myself, have had the privilege of basing their research on documents and other items housed in the vault, many more studies have yet to be conducted.[12] The vault is not finished sharing the voices of those students who left their families and homes to attend Sherman. Their stories of assimilation, resistance, and accommodation still remain in the Museum. They wait for the next wave of researchers to release their voices so others might hear. This was the most rewarding aspect of conducting research in the vault. It is also the purpose of our book and the reason why Lori has kept the vault open to researchers of the past and will continue to keep it open for those students and scholars of the future.

Excerpted from The Indian School on Magnolia Avenue: Voices and Images from Sherman Institute, published by Oregon State University Press.

About the Editors

Clifford E. Trafzer (Wyandot) is professor of American History and the Rupert Costo Chair in American Indian Affairs at the University of California, Riverside. He has written and edited several books, including Boarding School Blues, Native Universe, and Death Stalks the Yakama. Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert (Hopi), an assistant professor of American Indian Studies and History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is the author of Education beyond the Mesas: Hopi Students at Sherman Institute, 1902-1929 (University of Nebraska Press) and co-producer of a thirty-minute documentary filmm on the Hopi boarding school experience called "Beyond the Mesas." Lorene Sisquoc (Cuhilla/Apache) is Curator of the Sherman Indian School Museum in Riverside, California. She teaches Native American Traditions at Sherman Indian High School and is co-editor of Boarding School Blues: Revisiting American Indian Educational Experiences.


1 Jean A. Keller, Empty Beds: Student Health at Sherman Institute, 1902-1922 (Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2002), xv.
2 I write at length about Philip Zeyouma in my article on Hopi runners. See Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert, “Hopi Footraces and American Marathons, 1912-1930,” American Quarterly, Vol. 61, No. 2 (March 2010), 77-101.

3 The Sherman Bulletin, January 27, 1909, vol. 3, no.
4. Sherman Indian Museum, Riverside, California.

4 The Sherman Bulletin, March 3, 1909, Vol. 3, No. 9.

5 I write more about this in my book on the Hopi boarding school experience at Sherman Institute. See Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert, Education beyond the Mesas: Hopi Students at Sherman Institute, 1902-1929 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2010), x. xi.

6 Hopi teacher and author Polingaysi Qoyawayma (Elizabeth Q. White), who attended Sherman from 1906 to 1909, refers to the Riverside area as the “land of oranges.” See Polingaysi Qoyawayma (as told to Vada Carlson), No Turning Back: A Hopi Indian Woman’s Struggle to Live in Two Worlds (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1964), 57.

7 Samuel Shingoitewa interview, Upper Moencopi, Arizona, Hopi Reservation, July 8, 2004. Samuel is the father of Hopi Tribe Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa of Upper Moencopi.

8 The only complete collection of The Sherman Bulletin is housed in the Sherman Indian Museum vault.

9 Bessie Humetewa interview, Bacavi, Arizona, Hopi Reservation, July 8, 2004.

10 For more information on “Beyond the Mesas,” see http://beyondthemesas.com.

11 These members included Leigh J. Kuwanwisiwma, Director of the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office, and Stewart B. Koyiyumptewa, Archivist of the Hopi Tribe.
12 For example, several letters and invoices involving the transportation of American Indian students by railroad remain in the vault. A dissertation or book on the ways government officials used trains to transport students to Sherman Institute, and how railroads fit within the overall attempt to assimilate Native people, is an examination that would benefit immensely from the Museum’s documents.

November 29th, 2012

With December quickly approaching and a new fall title arriving each week, what better moment to share some of what's new at OSU Press.

Bob PyleRobert Michael Pyle, who stopped by Corvallis last month for a wonderful event to launch his new collection of writings from Orion, The Tangled Bank, has been visiting bookstores and nature centers throughout Oregon and Washington. Don't miss his stop in your town—check our calendar for upcoming events.Standing

We're celebrating the publication of the new biography of Oregon governor Bob Straub, Standing at the Water's Edge, with author Charles Johnson. Portlanders who missed his appearance at the Oregon Historical Society with Brent Walth can catch him at OHS's Holiday Cheer this Sunday.

Walking DistanceAn inspiring hiking book from Bob and Martha Manning, Walking Distance: Extraordinary Hikes for Ordinary People, will make its way to bookstore shelves in early December. The Mannings have spent the last decade walking the world's great long-distance trails, and this book features some of their favorite walks. Stunning photographs, travel tips, and firsthand stories from the trail make this a perfect gift for your favorite traveller or armchair adventurer.indian School

Watch our blog next week for an excerpt from Indian School on Magnolia Avenue, our newest First Peoples: New Directions in Indigenous Studies title.

And more...

We're thrilled to release a new edition Robin Cody's classic book, Voyage of a Summer Sun.

Aurora, Daughter of the Dawn is a historical novel for readers of all ages based on the life of Aurora Keil, whose father founded one of Oregon's most successful utopian societies.

Elizabeth and Bill Orr's Oregon Geology, sixth edition, is an updated and comprehensive treatment of the state's geology.

The writings collected in The Columbia River Treaty Revisited explain and explore the future of the treaty between Canada and the U.S., which governs the Columbia River.

Interested in more insightful, inspiring, informative books? We invite you to explore all of our new titles.

November 16th, 2012

UP Week Banner

We are pleased to have OSU Press intern Jessica Kibler finish up our week of  blogging as part of the University Press Week blog tour.  A complete blog tour schedule is available here. The week's posts are highlighted, with links, at AAUP's blog.

Jessica KiblerMy year as the George P. Griffis Publishing Intern at Oregon State University Press is somehow already nearing its end, and I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to work in such a welcoming and learning-filled environment.

Over the past year I've sat in on editorial board meetings, created digital excerpts of books, and was able to travel to Chicago for the Association of American University Publishers' annual meeting. At AAUP, I learned about new tools in digital publishing and talked to countless people who clearly love what they do.

One of the sessions I attended was Best Practices in Editing, which not only emphasized the importance of publishers—particularly university presses!—in the midst of the rise of self-publication, but also suggested different digital tools to increase the ease of editing in a market that is shifting heavily towards digital.

I’ve been a reader my whole life, and I can’t think of many things I love more than a well-made paper book, so the influx of e-readers has been a tough adjustment for me to accept. However, I’ve learned that the possibilities of what digital tools can add to a reading experience are endless. A few months back I read Rolling Stone contributing editor Rob Sheffield’s Talking to Girls About Duran Duran: One Young Man’s Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut. The book is a memoir of his coming-of-age, but is separated into chapters titled by names of various songs in the 1980s—songs of his youth. When I would reach each chapter while reading the book, I would grab my laptop and head to YouTube to listen to the song—whether I had heard it before or not—to give myself context, for in each chapter he would explain how the titular song related to and played an important role in an aspect of his life. Upon finishing the book, I was grateful for the small bit of extra work I put in, and it opened my eyes to the wonderful possibilities that technology has allowed for in the literary world, too.

Similarly, OSU Press recently teamed up with First Peoples: New Directions in Indigenous Studies on Songs of Power and Prayer in the Columbia Plateau: The Jesuit, the Medicine Man, and the Indian Hymn Singer by Chad Hamill. The book features notations of various hymns which the reader can now listen to clips of on the book’s website, along with recordings of hymns that were not mentioned in the book. While the influence of the Internet on book publishing is complicated, the abilities it has to bridge the reader to the content itself is exciting, especially for the scholarly works often published by university presses.

The sessions I chose to attend at AAUP were largely focused on how technology can help to advance a field so often seen as the antithesis to it. Digital content was a frequent topic of discussion and theme of panels, from e-book formatting, to promotional tools like the now-ubiquitous usage of video trailers for upcoming publications, to social media uses for marketing, to online-housed content meant to supplement and enhance the reading experience. I left the meeting with the sense that digital and physical publishing do not have to cancel each other out and that their ability to coexist can continue to create meaningful literary experience for readers.

My internship has cemented in my mind the importance of publishing houses, amidst a great present push towards self-publishing, for getting a book to the world in its best possible form. It’s shown me the value of a glance of a human eye over something pending publication, the various projects involved getting the word out about a new publication, and just how enjoyable it can be to show up at the office with co-workers who really care about what they do and are simultaneously incredibly hard-working and down-to-earth.

One of the most important things I have taken away from the AAUP conference and my time at the Press is how university presses give ease to sharing information; oftentimes, books published by university presses are books that wouldn’t appeal to a big publishing house with a high selling quota, but they are still able to exist because of university presses. I have a stack of recently published books on my desk at the Press that includes titles about land use, Oregon governmental history, and Indigenous music, to name a few. This breadth of knowledge and the ability to share it with the world is one of the most beneficial things about the existence of university presses. And, coming from a girl whose room is filled with dog-eared and underlined pages, more books and more learning—whether from paper or e-reader screen—can never be a bad thing.

Jessica Kibler, George P. Griffis Publishing Intern at Oregon State University Press (2011-12)

November 15th, 2012

We are pleased to have OSU Press author Richard Etulain blogging for us as part of the University Press Week blog tour.  A complete blog tour schedule is available here.

Like most academics, I began my love affair with university presses when I first enrolled in upper-division and graduate-level college courses in history and English. In graduate school at the University of OregRichard Etulainon our assigned texts and collateral readings were often books with a university press imprint. We realized, too, that the most of the often-mentioned, must-read books for master's and doctoral comprehensive exams were university press books. At the very beginning of my academic career I began to understand how central university press publications were to my studies.                     

Photo by Brian Libby
My marriage to university presses continued throughout nearly forty years of teaching.  Although core texts in my introductory history and literature courses often bore the imprint of trade or textbook publishers, the other assigned texts were often from university presses.  Indeed, something of a balance obtained: adopted textbooks, reprinted writings of notable historians and literary figures, and autobiographies and memoirs often came from trade publishers; but the assigned scholarly monographs, sometimes outnumbering the other texts, were university press publications.

Not surprisingly, when I began to launch my own publication career, I naturally looked to university presses as outlets for my writings. During the last forty years, most of my fifty authored and edited books have carried a university press imprint. At the outset, because my first books were very modest endeavors, I worked with lesser-known publishers, such as Dakota Press, Idaho State University Press, Boise State University, Utah State University Press, and the Popular Press of Bowling Green State University. Those presses provided invaluable experiences in the publishing field as I negotiated the uncertain shoals of academic publication. I remember them fondly because I learned so much from these presses.

The next stage of my career led to affiliation with better-known university presses in the American West. University presses at Utah and Nevada midwifed into print my book Conversations with Wallace Stegner—and on to strong sales. The University of Nebraska Press published my coauthored (with Michael P. Malone) The American West: A Twentieth-Century History, which became a Main Selection of the History Book Club and a nominee for a Pulitzer Prize. And the University of Arizona Press printed my Re-imagining the Modern American West: A Century of Fiction, History, and Art, winner of the book-of-the-year award in western history and a Western Heritage prize.

I have also worked with several university presses as a series editor. The University of Oklahoma Press has now published nearly thirty volumes in its/my Oklahoma Western Biographies series.  Ten other books have appeared in the Modern American West series of the University of Arizona Press, and the University of Nebraska has now issued two prize-winning volumes of the six-volume History of the West series.

Most of all, I connected with the University of New Mexico Press. As a member of the History Department at UNM for twenty-two years and the UNM Press faculty committee for almost two decades, I naturally gravitated toward my home base. Working closely with the very able and supportive editor David Holtby, I authored or edited eleven volumes for the UNM Press. Two of the most important, best-selling volumes were New Mexican Lives and Beyond the Missouri: The Story of the American West. Strong links to the UNM Press did much to further and sustain my publishing career.

After retirement from UNM in 2001, I reached out to other university presses.  I worked with Southern Illinois University Press on Lincoln Looks West. Soon thereafter, I also became coeditor of the Concise Lincoln Library at the SIU Press, a series that includes numbers eight compact books on Lincoln and several others under contract.

Most recently, I've worked with the Oregon State University Press for the first time.  Although small in size, the OSU Press staff has been remarkably diligent and on-track in helping me prepare Lincoln and Oregon Country Politics in the Civil War Era for publication in early 2013. I'm very pleased to have this, my fiftieth book, published by an up-and-coming university press in my home country of the Pacific Northwest.

Over time, I have learned much from these long-time connections with university presses. In my early academic years, those lessons were the rudimentary steps of preparing a publishable manuscript and marching through the necessary stages of reader and editorial evaluation, acceptance of a manuscript, copyediting, page proof reading, indexing, and the joys of a new book in hand. Along the way, by reviewing and commenting on well more than one hundred manuscripts by other authors, I saw first-hand and came to appreciate the demanding roles of editors at university presses. Likewise, I began to comprehend the challenges of advertising and marketing academic books. Nor will I forget the warm friendships I've made with directors, acquisition editors, marketers, design and layout editors, and other staff members. Altogether it has been a wonderful journey of a half-century bundling with university presses.

Richard W. Etulain
Professor Emeritus, University of New Mexico


November 14th, 2012

UPress week

We are pleased to have OSU Press author Robert Michael Pyle blogging for us as part of the University Press Week blog tour.  A complete blog tour schedule is available here.

Bob PyleAs a writer who has published books for three decades with several of the major commercial publishing houses, I have become a greater and greater advocate for university presses. My experience in commercial publishing has generally been good. However, I have also been in a position to see some of its rawer exposures: unfriendly takeovers and mergers, the sinking of fine old houses to the status of coat-closets in giant conglomerates merely for the better pickings of the backlist bone yard, the shredding of books not a year out from literary awards in order to avoid inventory taxes, undue obeisance to big-chain bookstores, and on and on. The mercantile publishing world has grown even more starkly philistine and timid under the recent onslaught of e-books, to the peril of the backlist, contracts underway, and anything adventurous. When the bottom line alone calls the shots, the shots become mere potshots instead of shooting stars. By contrast, I have found university presses to be willing to engage and promote good books with readers more in mind than bean-counters. Not that they don't attend to business: they must adhere to good value and prudent choices, in a time of tight budgets. But the commitment to writing of substance in a non-profit setting makes the university presses capable of creating the kinds of high-quality, greatly varied, and original books that are growing all too scarce in the world of profit-driven publishing. While not giving up on the private houses altogether, I have truly enjoyed my first two outings with a university press, and look forward to more. I, for one, feel that civilization will live on, and well, as long as our universities stand and their presses continue to print significant books that might otherwise never see publication.

Robert Michael Pyle, author of OSUP titles The Tangled Bank and The Thunder Tree, lives in Southwest Washington.


November 13th, 2012

UP Week Banner

We are pleased to have OSU Press author Brian Doyle join us as part of the University Press Week blog tour.  A complete blog tour schedule is available here.

Brian DoyleI have been delighted to be published by a university press for many reasons, some of them egregiously selfish, like a superb editor who let my headlong style alone and only caught my many errors and narrative crimes; but the deepest reason has nothing to do with finally getting to vote on my own book covers, or the immediate and personable response I get to the usual authorial neurotic wheedling and mania. It has something very much to do with community, and with responsibility to the stories that matter, and with giving children of all ages in my region the best opportunity to encounter and digest and savor stories they would never get in any other way than the graceful way they are celebrated by university presses.

The university press that publishes me, bless its taste and discernment, is consciously and deliberately and happily a regional press. It takes its place in the community quite seriously. It wishes to catch and share history here. It wishes to sing and salute the natural world, which is to say our neighbors of all species. It wishes to speak clearly and eloquently of the moist grace of this place, and no other, for I believe its visionaries know full well that if this press does not speak those stories they will be lost.

I have great respect for commercial presses of all sorts; to recruit and promulgate story is generally a positive thing in this universe, and those men and women who bet their livelihoods on publishing are brave souls. But I have a higher respect for university presses, when they turn their capacious talents and resources to communal responsibility and not merely the driest of academic ephemera. To live well in a place is to be a student of its character and characters, its stories and tales, its tumultuous life and stunning possibilities; if we do not share stories of what we were and who we can be, we are merely visitors in a region, not residents. It seems to me that university presses like the one that publishes me are most attuned to story as, no kidding, no exaggeration, food for the soul, both individual and civic. They tell the stories that would not be told otherwise; and the fact that my university press is backed and supported and encouraged by a university that is, in the final analysis, in the business of waking lanky children to their best and most generous and creative selves is doubly cheering.

It would be so very easy, so reasonable, so sensible, to measure the effect and impact of university presses only by the usual stick, cold cash. But that is a small stick by which to measure the good they do. The much larger measurement is the community itself, the lanky children of all ages. Are we more informed, enlightened, instructed, even humbled, by the stories caught and shared by our university presses? Absolutely so; for which I think we ought to bow gently this week, and say thanks, for extraordinary and crucial work, done very well indeed.

Brian Doyle, November 2012

Brian Doyle is the author of three books with Oregon State University Press: a novel, Mink River, and the nonfiction works The Grail and The Wet Engine.

November 12th, 2012

UP Week banner

We are pleased to have OSU Press author Ana Maria Spagna blogging for us as part of the University Press Week blog tour.  A complete blog tour schedule is available here.

Ana Maria SpagnaI admire university presses, revere them even, for more reasons than I can name. There’s the wealth of information their books had provided me during research. Need to know about American Indians? There’s Oklahoma. Civil rights? Mississippi. Western water wars? Utah. Then there are the reprints, those lost gems. My own home press, Oregon State, has resurrected some of my personal literary heroes H.L. Davis and Don Berry. Then there’s the long tradition of essential writers who got their starts with university presses, many of whom stayed: Edward Abbey, Norman McLean, Rebecca Solnit, Scott Russell Sanders, Lucia Perillo, Stanley Crawford.

But most of all, I adore university presses, cherish them, for what they are not.  A few years ago I thought I was on the brink of something big. An agent (an agent!) was shopping my first collection of essays around New York. Not surprisingly, at least in hindsight, the collection did not receive a warm reception (essays?), so the agent suggested that I rewrite the manuscript to make it more saleable. OK, I said. Sure. But what did she mean? Could she suggest a book that might serve as a model?  

The Da Vinci Code, she said. Read The Da Vinci Code.

I was stunned. The distance between my little book of nature essays and Dan Brown’s mega-seller could be measured in light years. Her suggestion was ridiculous, nearly outrageous. I was disheartened the same way I’d be disheartened a few years later when an editor at a large publishing house gushed in admiration of one of my books, and then took it to the marketing department where it was rejected out of hand because they didn’t think it could sell the requisite 25,000 hard cover copies. Twenty five thousand?  That seemed a very high bar. How many of my most beloved books would not exist if they’d been required to sell that many copies out of the gate?  Nearly all of them, I realized. 

That first collection finally found a home at a university press, and home was the right word.  The small staff proved helpful and encouraging, dedicated and demanding and very very smart. I was honored and humbled to work with them—I’m honored to be with them still—but I’m honored even more to be part of a sub-culture that cares about, well, culture. Not the mega-seller, but the best book possible, sometimes from the least expected author, the least expected place. In that way, university presses, like indie record labels, have become incubators of talent and a bulwark against highly profitable sameness. 

How many Da Vinci Codes do we really need?

Ana Maria Spagna, October 2012

Ana Maria Spagna is the author of Potluck: Community on the Edge of Wilderness and Now Go Home: Wilderness, Belonging, and the Crosscut Saw (both from OSUP). Her essays have appeared in Orion, Utne Reader, Open Spaces, Backpacker, and Best Essays NW. She lives in Stekehin, Washington.




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