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Richard W. Etulain Papers

Identifier: MSS-909-BC

Scope and Content

The collection documents Richard Etulain’s prolific career as an educator, historian and writer and also provides resources to study the methods and processes of researching, writing, reviewing, publishing, editing, critiquing and teaching Western literature and history. The bulk of the material in this collection relates primarily to Etulain’s research and writing for his publication projects. The collection also contains material related to his education (undergraduate: 1955-1960; graduate: 1960-1966) and teaching career.

The collection is organized into five series:

Biographical series includes material related to Etulain's family and general career highlights including photos, newspaper clippings, and resumes.

Research & Publications series is arranged alphabetically and includes topical research files and correspondence related to publication projects and for essays and oral presentations. Also included is material related to special projects with history and literature oriented organizations and institutions. This series contains many annotated draft manuscripts by Etulain and others, some of which eventually became published books. Research files include facsimiles of historical documents and articles, many which are obscure and not readily accessible. Prominent research themes include the American West (history and literature), Basque culture, historiography, and regionalism.

Education series includes topical files Etulain collected and created as a college student and teaching assistant along with materials he used for teaching college courses. Materials include research notes, syllabi, tests, reading lists, and handwritten lectures. This series also contains material from his teaching career and involvement with educational projects.

Book Reviews written by Etulain illuminate his attitudes toward ideas and publications in western history and literature. A small component of reviews of Etulain’s works, written by others is interspersed in these files.

Correspondence series contains letters to and from Etulain related to his many publication projects and relationships with other writers, friends, colleagues, scholars, educational institutions, historical and literary organizations and publishers. Etulain served as president of the Western Literature Association (1978-1979) and the Western History Association (1998-1999) and in that capacity, he corresponded with important literary and historical scholars specializing in the history and culture of the West.


  • 1639-2010
  • Majority of material found within 1963-1999


Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or distribution.

Biography / History

Richard Wayne Etulain was born on August 26, 1938 in Wapato, Washington. He graduated magma cum laude, majoring in English and History at Northwest Nazarene College (1955-1960). He received his M.A. in American Literature (1962) and Ph.D. in American History and Literature (1966) from the University of Oregon. He held a postdoctoral grant in historical editing to work on the Daniel Webster Papers at Dartmouth College. Dr. Etulain began his career as a professor at Northwest Nazarene College (Idaho). The majority of his teaching career was at Idaho State University (1970-1979) and the University of New Mexico (1979-2001). He also taught at the University of Oregon and UCLA. Dr. Etulain served as the 38th President of the Western History Association (1998-1999). He was also President of the Western Literature Association (1979).

Etulain’s professional activities at the University of New Mexico went beyond teaching. He also served as editor of the New Mexico Historical Review and Director of the Center for the Southwest, formerly, the Center for the American West. Etulain received an NEH fellowship to study American ethnic and racial groups with which he explored his Basque heritage at the renowned Basque Studies Program at the University of Nevada in Reno. Upon his retirement, UNM’s Center for the Southwest established an annual lecture series named in his honor, focusing on the history of the American West. In addition to his professorship, Etulain is an accomplished writer, editor, and reviewer.

Richard Etulain has written, edited, and coedited more than 50 books which have contributed greatly to the history of the American West. His writings have won honors from the Western History Association and the History Book Club, and he has also received the Western Heritage Award. His works include Beyond the Missouri: The Story of the American West; Conversations with Wallace Stegner on Western History and Literature; Re-Imagining the Modern American West: A Century of Fiction, History, and Art; Telling Western Stories: From Buffalo Bill to Larry McMurtry; Basques of the Pacific Northwest; The American West: A Twentieth-Century History; Cesar Chavez: A Brief Biography with Documents; A Bibliographical Guide to the Study of Western American Literature; and his latest book Lincoln and Oregon Country Politics in the Civil War Era.

For additional biographical information, &


24 boxes (23.1 cu. ft.)


Richard W. Etulain’s papers document his prolific career as an educator, historian and writer, and also provide insight into methods and processes of researching, writing, reviewing, publishing, editing, critiquing and teaching Western literature and history.

Processing Information

Unprocessed additions (7 boxes). Contains correspondence and book reviews. Added March 2016, Jan. 2022. Location B3-13A.
Finding aid of the Richard W. Etulain Papers, 1639-2010
© 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131