In August 2013, Amherst College acquired one of the most comprehensive collections of books by Native American authors ever assembled by a private collector. A generous gift from Younghee Kim-Wait (AC 1982) made it possible for the library to purchase the Pablo Eisenberg Native American Literature Collection. Pablo Eisenberg devoted years of his life to collecting nearly 1,500 books written by Native American authors ranging in date from 1772 (Samson Occom) to living writers still publishing today (Louise Erdrich).
The collection includes fiction, poetry, history, philosophy, sermons, anthropological works, photography, activism, books for children, and much more. The aim is to document as thoroughly as possible the full spectrum of Native American writing and intellectual life from the 18th century to the present. The Library is committed to expanding the collection, having already made additional purchases to fill in gaps and extend the chronological scope of our holdings.
Sermons, speeches, and memoirs by the first Native American authors to see their works in print are very well represented, including Samson Occom, William Apess, and Elias Boudinot. The collection includes the early and hard-to-find books by such writers as Mourning Dove, Zitkala Sa (Gertrude Bonnin), D'Arcy McNickle, Ella Deloria, Charles Eastman and Pauline Johnson, dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as scarce books by a later generation of writers such as Leslie Marmon Silko, Linda Hogan, Gerald Vizenor, Maurice Kenny and Joy Harjo, whose early works were published in tiny quantities by small presses, or sometimes self-published, and which are virtually impossible to obtain.
Our catalogers completed cataloging the collection in Spring 2014. All records include a note that identifies them as part of the Kim-Wait/Eisenberg collection. This link will retrieve all of the cataloged items in the collection: The Younghee Kim-Wait (AC 1982) Pablo Eisenberg Native American Literature Collection.
Given the broad sweep of the collection, it also includes several works by non-Indigenous writers falsely claiming Native American ancestry. When such fraudulent claims are clearly documented, we have included this information in the catalog record. When these works are purportedly biographical, we have also added the genre heading "Literary hoaxes" to the records, following the standards of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries. We welcome input from users to assist us with corrections to any aspects of our catalog records. Please send any comments or suggestions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are currently in the process of digitizing all of the items published before 1923, and thus in the public domain. These works can be read online and/or freely downloaded via Amherst College Digital Collections.
Additional images of items from the collection can be seen on our Flickr site.