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Preliminary Guide to the David Lavender - Fort Laramie Collection
Wyles Mss 3  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access Restrictions
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: David Lavender - Fort Laramie Collection
    Date (inclusive): ca. latter 1970s-early 1980s
    Collection Number: Wyles Mss 3
    Collector: Lavender, David, 1910-2003
    Collection Size: .8 linear feet (2 document boxes)
    Repository: University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Dept. of Special Collections
    Santa Barbara, CA 93106
    Abstract: Research files from David Lavender, used in writing Fort Laramie and the Changing Frontier (Official National Park Handbook, 1983). Mainly photocopies and typed notes of correspondence, diaries, reports and other documents from the latter 19th century.
    Physical Location: Del Sur.
    Language: English

    Access Restrictions


    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.

    Preferred Citation

    David Lavender - Fort Laramie Collection. Wyles Mss 3. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of David Lavender, ca. 1983.


    David Lavender, teacher, cowboy, and historian of the West, was born in Telluride, Colorado on Feb. 4, 1910. He attending Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania, graduated from Princeton University in 1931, and briefly attended Stanford Law School. His grandfather was chief justice of Colorado and his stepfather ranched and ran a stagecoach line. After his stepfather died during the Depression, he took over the family ranch and, when it failed, worked in a gold mine for a while. He moved to Denver, became a copywriter for an advertising agency, and later moved to California, where he became a screenwriter, providing plots for Westerns, and writing stories for Western pulp magazines, juvenile publications such as Boys' Life, and the Saturday Evening Post.
    In 1939, Lavender moved to Ojai, California. His first book, a collection of autobiographical essays entitled One Man's West, came out in 1943. The same year he began teaching at the Thacher School, a boarding school in Ojai, where he remained on the faculty until 1970. Some of his students most vivid memories of their school years were of the camping trips that Lavender took them on.
    In all, Lavender published more than 40 books on western themes ranging from fur trappers to railroad barons and early San Francisco bankers. He was known and praised for his meticulous research and story-telling abilities. He was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize twice and received many significant awards for his work, including two Guggenheim fellowships to study the fur trade and four medals from the Commonwealth Club of California for his histories of Colorado, the Pacific Northwest, early San Francisco, and the Lewis and Clark expedition. In 1997 the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado honored him with the its Wallace Stegner Award for sustained contribution to the cultural identity of the American West.
    For many years David Lavender conducted research in and was a consultant to the William Wyles Collection (with extensive holdings in western history) at the UCSB Libraries Special Collections. He died in Ojai, California on April 19, 2003, at the age of 93.
    *Information for this biography was drawn from Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, and New York Times obituaries, Apr. 2003, as well as a UCSB Libraries Soundings article, 1982.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The collection contains David Lavender's research files, ca. latter 1970s-early 1980s, used in writing Fort Laramie and the Changing Frontier (Official National Park Handbook, 1983). The dates listed in the container list, however, generally refer to the dates of the original sources that Lavender consulted.


    The collection is divided into two series:
    • I. Fort Laramie and the Changing Frontier , which contains research notes and copies of historical accounts, including correspondence, diaries, and other documents from the latter 19th century.
    • II. Historic Preservation, Restoration, Interpretation of Fort Laramie Historic Site Historic, which primarily contains recent studies and reports undertaken by the National Park Service.
    The published version of Fort Laramie and the Changing Frontier, as well as other works by Lavender, and works on Fort Laramie by other authors, have been cataloged separately and can be searched on Pegasus, the UCSB Libraries online catalog.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Lavender, David, 1910-2003
    Fort Laramie (Wyo.)
    Historic preservation--United States.