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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 75, July 1971 - April, 1972

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

The Santa Fe Trail: A Historical Bibliography. By Jack D. Ritten-
house. (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1971.
Pp. 271. Addenda, documents, index. $12.oo.)
A good bibliography is complete, accurate, and easy to use. It
facilitates research and writing.
The Santa Fe Trail by Jack Rittenhouse, president of the Histor-
ical Society of New Mexico, is a strong, dependable tool, well-designed
by a craftsman bibliographer, in the style of Henry Raup Wagner
and Lawrence Clark Powell, for digging in western history. Ritten-
house's bibliography is a guide to published material, most particu-
larly to over three hundred travelers' accounts and scores of historical
studies of the great southwestern freight route. He excludes local and
regional histories, fiction, and poetry concerning the trail, and articles
about the trail written for popular magazines. Since Rittenhouse
visualizes the bibliography as a handy tool for reference librarians,
book collectors and dealers, and a variety of researchers, he has gen-
erously annotated the entries. He summarizes the content of each
entry, evaluates the historical reliability of many items, and com-
ments frequently on first editions, reprints, and paperback editions.
The 718 entries are alphabetically arranged by author and carry entry
numbers which appear with page numbers in the index. Congres-
sional documents which appear as numbered entries are also indexed
by Congress and session. There are very few errors in citation. A
sample check of fifty items revealed only two errors, and this reviewer
can think of only one pertinent item not included in the bibliography.
In the introduction to the bibliography Rittenhouse reviews crit-
ically the larger topics in the history of the trail between the eigh-
teenth century and the opening of railroad service to Santa Fe in
x88o. Although his introduction adds little to our basic understand-
ing of southwestern overland trade, described previously by dozens
of writers, it opens doors to entire areas of research. For example the
role of Mexicans "in freighting along the trail," as he notes, and as
"active... freighters or outfitters during the entire life of the route"
has never been told adequately.
The book is illustrated by a half-dozen photographs of wagon outfits
and of sections of the trail and by a precise map of the entire route
to Santa Fe.

University of Texas, Austin



Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 75, July 1971 - April, 1972. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed May 2, 2016.

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