Although generally known as "the Kim-Wait/Eisenberg collection," or simply "the KWE," the Collection of Native American Literature at Amherst is actually composed of multiple discrete collections, along with multiple acquisitions of individual items by gift and purchase. Detailed provenance information about sources and donors is included in catalog records to make the source of our acquisitions as transparent as possible. The Archives & Special Collections is committed to continuing to build this collection as a resource that is open and accessible to the public at large, as well as to students, faculty, and scholars. New records are regularly added to the Amherst College Library Catalog as books are received.
The Kim-Wait/Eisenberg Collection: 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 1,400 books written by Native American authors ranging in date from 1772 (Samson Occom) to living writers still publishing today (Louise Erdrich). Cataloging of these books was completed in May 2014.
Peter Webb (Class of 1974) Gift: In late 2014, Amherst College alumnus Peter Webb donated his personal collection of books by Native Writers to the Archives. This collection included another early edition of Samson Occom’s Sermon (1772), along with works by William Apes, George Copway, Zitkala-Sa, Charles Eastman, and Leslie Marmon Silko.
Joseph Bruchac/Greenfield Review Press: In 2014, Joseph Bruchac (Abenaki) sold a portion of his personal book collection to Amherst College. In 2015 we followed up with a purchase of approximately 250 titles from the backlist of the Greenfield Review Press, which was established by Joseph and Carol Bruchac in 1970. The Greenfield Review Press records are held by Brown University. Joseph Bruchac’s personal papers are held by Yale University.
Gerald Vizenor: In 2015, the Archives purchased nearly 200 items from Gerald Vizenor (White Earth Band Ojibwe) including some of his earliest published books of poetry. The collection includes many of Vizenor’s uncollected contributions to anthologies and other books along with a nearly complete set of his individual publications.
Native Periodicals Collection: In the summer of 2021, Amherst paid for the packing and shipping of 62 cartons of newspapers and other periodicals from the Sequoyah Research Center at the University of Arkansas to Amherst, Massachusetts. The Sequoyah Research Center needed to find a new home for the thousands of duplicate issues of Native newspapers that they had accumulated as the home of the Native Newspapers Project. As of Fall 2022, these papers are being sorted and listed by student workers in the Archives; a full finding aid will be publicly available soon.
Red Planet/Native Realities: We have actively collected the output of both Native Realities Press and Red Planet Books and Comics since their founding. Dr. Lee Francis 4 (Laguna Pueblo) founded the Indigenous Comic Con in 2016 (now IndigiPop Expo) and opened Red Planet Books and Comics, the only Native comic shop in the world, in Albuquerque, NM in 2017. Our goal is to maintain a complete set of publications issued through Native Realities/Red Planet. Amherst student Cassandra Hradil (Class of 2017) received funding from the college to attend the first Indigenous Comic Con in Albuquerque, NM in 2016 where she purchased several items for the collection. Search the Amherst College Library catalog to see comics and zines purhcased from Red Planet (available here).
Individual gifts and purchases: Since the acquisition of the Eisenberg collection in 2013, the Archives & Special Collections has received numerous gifts of individual books and small groups of books. Information about all donors is included in catalog notes to make the provenance of our materials absolutely clear. We also maintain relationships with several members of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America who are on the lookout for additional Native-authored materials. Recent acquisitions include several hundred issues of Iapi Oaye and The Word Carrier.