Family donates rare books to FVCC library –

December 15, 2021 by No Comments

The Old West is back and wild as ever at the Broussard Family Library and Learning Commons at Flathead Valley Community College, thanks to a significant donation of Western literature.

Whitefish resident Nick Chickering and his wife Karen recently presented the college with a gift of 287 rare Western Americana books — many of them written in the 1800s and some in the 1700s — about the Rocky Mountains, exploration of the West, the Northwest, the Southwest and the tribes.

Nick Chickering was the inheritor of the library, which was put together by his grandfather, Allen L. Chickering, who was born in 1877 and was an avid, lifetime collector and reader of books. Most of the books have his personal bookplate affixed to the inside cover.

“When he died in 1958, my grandfather had what was supposed to be the largest private collection of Western Americana books in the United States,” Chickering said.

The donation represents about 30% of the original collection, which also contains an extensive portion of California history books.

“Believe it or not, my grandfather read every one of them,” Chickering said.

“They’re in four different languages and, having learned Latin in law school, he taught himself how to read in German, Spanish and French.”

Allen L. Chickering had served as president and was a longtime board member of the California Historical Society and frequently wrote in its quarterly magazine.

AMONG THE numerous rare volumes is a circa 1657 leatherbound French book with a Paris copyright. The impressions from the printing press can still be felt on the back of its pages.

There is also a first edition from 1907 of James Willard Schultz’s book “My Life as an Indian,” the classic memoir about Schultz’s life with the Blackfeet and Plains Indian life.

“Many of the books were written in first person by people who lived in those times,” Chickering said. “It’s tough to read. It was a brutal life that they had to survive. It’s an eye-opener to read what they endured.”

Chickering said he always knew he would donate the books one day and he’s glad they are now part of the collection of FVCC’s new library.

FVCC’s Director of Library Services Morgan Ray said that opening and unpacking the 15 boxes of books was especially exciting.

“I felt like a little kid on Christmas morning,” she said. “To hold something so fragile, it’s like holding history in your hands.”

Ray said the library plans to list the …….



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