The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents

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Creative Media Partners, LLC, Mar 12, 2019 - 330 pages

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About the author (2019)

Reuben Gold Thwaites (1853 - 1913) was an American librarian, historian and editor. He was born in 1853 in Dorchester, Massachusetts, and moved with his family to Omro, Wisconsin, in 1866. While teaching school, he studied college-level coursework and worked on local farms. He also reported for the Oshkosh Times. In 1874 he went to Yale University and studied history and economics as a special student. Though he never studied formally at the collegiate level beyond his time at Yale, he was awarded an LL.D. form the University of Wisconsin later in his life. Thwaites returned to Wisconsin two years later and settled in Madison, where he served for a time as managing editor of the Wisconsin State Journal. In 1885 he became Assistant Corresponding Secretary of the Historical Society of Wisconsin, and when Lyman C. Draper retired as Secretary in 1887, Thwaites was appointed to succeed him. It was a post he would hold until his death. Thwaites' scholarly reputation rested primarily as his skills as an editor of historical documents. Among the more important projects completed by him and his assistants during his years with the Society were: The Jesuit Relations and Allied documents (73 vols.), Lewis and Clark Journals (8 vols.), Early Western Travels (32 vols.) and Collections of the State Historical Society (vols. 11-20). He is credited with raising the scholarship surrounding the Lewis and Clark expedition to a new Level. He discovered and uncovered various additional original sources, including journal of Sergeant Charles Floyd, the only member of the Corps of Discovery to die on the expedition. Prior to that, general knowledge, as well as, serious scholarship were, for the most part, clouded by legend. However, he has also been criticized, especially recently, for failing to account for prejudicial and inaccurate sources while editing the Jesuit Relations. Not satisfied in being simply an academic, he was a historian who attempted to understand history by experiencing those aspects that he could, and bringing those experiences to life. He took canoe trips on the Wisconsin, Fox and Rock Rivers, took a bicycle trip across England, and took a trip down the Ohio River in a rowboat. Thwaites was a frequent lecturer on American history at the University of Wisconsin, and he was honored with an LL.D. in 1904. He was also president of the American Library Association from 1899-1900, and in 1910 he was named president of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association. Thwaites died of heart failure in 1913.

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