The Huntington Library seeks a Curator of Western American History to serve as a creative and collaborative professional in stewarding, developing, and interpreting its exceptional collection of manuscripts, rare books, photographs, and maps pertaining to the history of the trans-Mississippi West. The collections in this area have been thoughtfully developed over the last century and remain a major focus of the institution. The Library holds 400 manuscript collections that pertain to the West, as well as hundreds of thousands of printed and graphic items.
The Curator of Western American History is part of the Library’s unified Curatorial Department staff. S/he/they report to the Head of the Library Curatorial Department and will work closely with other curators with intersecting collection areas and scholarly expertise, including those in the Huntington’s Art Museum.
The collections in this area geographically extend from Alaska and the Canadian Northwest, south to the borderlands of the United States and Mexico, and across the continent from the Mississippi and throughout the Pacific Rim. Chronologically, resources span the 16th century to the early 21st. The topical and thematic strengths of the collections relate to missionary practices among Indigenous populations; immigrant diasporas and populations; overland migration and settler colonial exploration and settler impulses; warfare and violence; and Latter-Day Saint migrations to the Intermountain and Far West, as well as into the Pacific. Materials on mining, water, the gold rush, railroads, corporate histories, banking and finance, migrations, and demography record the growth of urban and suburban centers in the West. Recent collecting concentrates on the transformation of the West in response to tourism, recreation, and leisure across the last century and a half.
The Huntington welcomes over one million visitors each year to its gardens, art galleries, and library exhibition halls, while also facilitating one of the largest scholarly fellowship programs in the United States. The Library’s reading rooms welcome 1700 visitors conducting research in the collections each year, with some 300 readers working in the field of Western American History. The successful candidate will demonstrate a background of working directly with people from diverse racial, ethnic, geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds, using a welcoming, inclusive, and accessible approach. The successful applicant will also demonstrate an understanding of the role of special collection resources in contemporary scholarship, as well as an aptitude for the focused acquisition of collection materials in this field, and their imaginative interpretation through public exhibition for diverse audiences.