Carey McWilliams courtesy of Special Collections at UCLA’s Charles E. Young Research Library.
By William Deverell
Carey McWilliams died on this day in 1980. A fellow Coloradan – he was from Steamboat Springs – McWilliams came to Los Angeles as a teenager. He earned a law degree from USC in 1927. Not long after, he published a superb biography of Ambrose Bierce, a book which is still important. All of McWilliams’s many books are still important. Indefatigable champion of civil rights and civil liberties, the author of probably the best book ever written on Southern California, McWilliams established a legacy in which scholarship, journalism, and political activism overlapped and energized one another. It’s about forty years late, but we at USC ought to work together to honor this remarkable man of conscience and letters – there needs to be a McWilliams Prize or a McWilliams Medal or a McWilliams Award, granted to people who have similar courage of conviction and felicity with language.
Photo of William S. Hart is courtesy of the Hart Museum.
By Beth Werling
Before Clint Eastwood, before John Wayne, William S. Hart not just personified, but created the prototypical Western hero during the silent film era; the good bad man who lived by his own code of honor. Hart promoted this image offscreen as well, filling his home with Native American memorabilia as well art by Remington and Russell depicting his idealized vision of the West. He ensured that his vision of the West became legacy when he bequeathed his mansion and its contents to the County of Los Angeles following his death on June 23, 1946. Visitors today can visit his Newhall home and experience a romanticized portrait of the West through the lens of one of the genre’s earliest stars.
Beth Werling is curator at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.
We are terribly saddened to hear of the death of extraordinary bookseller Bill Reese of William Reese Company in New Haven (https://www.williamreesecompany.com). William Deverell shared this tribute:
I remember when I first visited the shop on Temple Street. I was twenty-one years old, and I had never been to a bookstore like Bill’s. It was like being in the rare book stacks of The Huntington, except everything was for sale. Priceless, extraordinary books and manuscripts – beautiful, rare, exquisite. I did not want to leave. Over the years, Bill would always have a good word or wise counsel; he knew so much about history and scholarship, in and of the West but well beyond, too. About a decade ago, I made a point of buying a long run of his shop’s amazing catalogs – each item described with exquisite scholarly care. He will be missed so much, by so many. He made a great difference in the world of books and scholarship, and he did so with endless generosity of resources and spirit.
In 2010, the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America interviewed William Reese about his career and the antiquarian book industry: