Native American Literature in Special Collections
The objective of the Native American Literature Collection in Special Collections is to build a comprehensive collection of American Indian thought and literary effort for the purposes of preservation, documentation, and research. The collection is intended to support UWM programs in English, Comparative Literature, and American Indian Studies, as well as teaching and study in the general community. The collection holds over 600 first, early, and special editions, and consists almost entirely of materials written or created by native peoples of the continental United States, Alaska, and Canada from all historical and contemporary periods. While the tradition of Native American literature is long, the publishing of native writings blossomed after WWII, and experienced a sharp increase after 1968 during the so-called "Native American Renaissance." It is in this later period that the collection has its greatest strength. Materials in the collections include fiction, non-fiction, poetry, journalism, and transcriptions of oral literature. Special Collections does not collect materials on Native American themes and issues by non-Indian writers, except in the case of anthologies, edited collections, translations, and collaborations with native authors, where the intellectual content of the publication is primarily of American Indian creation.
While materials documenting American Indian history may be included in the collection, the focus remains primarily literary, especially since there are several special collections of American Indian documentary materials at nearby institutions (e.g., Marquette University, Milwaukee; Wisconsin State Historical Library, Madison; The Newberry Library, Chicago).
Special Collections holdings of Native American Literature is complimented by American Indian literary holdings in the general and curriculum collections of the Golda Meir Library (for example, see our online exhibit Native Voices: American Indian Literature at the Golda Meir Library).
Materials for this collection are acquired through purchase and gift. Whenever possible, a second copy is made available in the general collection.
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