Thursday, March 03, 2011

He's a character, alright!

Charles Foster LummisSeveral years ago, a co-worker suggested that I blog about Charles Lummis around his birthday, March 1. I knew a couple of catchphrases about him: writer, librarian, editor, Indian Rights activist. March can be a busy month in Libraryland, so the poor guy has been languishing in my to-do file since then.

After reading a few brief histories of this extraordinary man and his work, I'm glad to finally catch up with him. Born in 1859, in Lynn, Massachusetts, Lummis' life stands out from many of the stories about Yankees who made their way West at that time. For one thing, he walked out here. Yes, when given a job as a reporter for the nascent Los Angeles Times, he decided to take a stroll from Cincinnati and write about his travels along the way. It was on this tramp that he fell in love with New Mexico, despite almost freezing to death in a snowstorm.

American Character The rest of his life was spent divided among Los Angeles, travel, and San Mateo and Isleta Pueblo, New Mexico. As a Yankee who also migrated out West—with the help of modern transportation— I can't help but be entertained by this character. I don't want to give anything else away about this extraordinary man, so I'll just point you to some sources if you're intruigued:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps we need more characters like Lummis!
Thanks for the blog post.
The book by Mark Thompson is good. Lummis' writing was translated into Spanish and he was admired and read by Spanish speaking folks everywhere particularly because he objected to the so called Black Legend. "Los exploradores españoles del siglo XVI; vindicación de la acción colonizadora española en America" is the translated title of Charles Lummis' "Spanish Pioneers".
For a quick look at the issue of the Black Legend and Charles Lummis see the reference in "Marc Simmons of New Mexico--Maverick Historian" by Phyllis S. Morgan.