Way out West but still in frame

11 November 2019

Area Studies | Cultural Studies

With the focus of a new semester, it’s always an exciting time to hit the road and talk to academics across the country about all things humanities and social sciences. The fact that it’s also conference season again means I have the privilege of exposure to fascinating lectures, great conversations with the academic community, and the opportunity to share the latest news from Adam Matthew Digital.

One of the events I always look forward to is WHA, which this year was held in Las Vegas. Taking Sin City’s famous slogan “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” and flipping it, the theme for the event was “What happens in the West doesn’t stay in the West.”

The Western History Association, with its roots in 1961, aims to promote the rich history of the North American West. This year’s annual conference was held in Las Vegas, a location as diverse and exciting as the history of the West itself. Amongst the schedule of speakers, sessions and roundtables, the conference provides fantastic opportunity to learn, discuss and promote the forward-thinking nature of the event and the attendees. As the only digital publisher exhibiting, Adam Matthew Digital is proud to be associated with such a diverse event.

Ahead of the conference, and the event’s guided tour of the Hoover Dam, I was keen to do a little research about it and the area. And where better to start than Adam Matthew’s own digital resources?

Turning my attention to Leisure, Travel and Mass Culture, I came across a guidebook from 1957. The Best in the West, by Thomas B. Lesure, sounded like a great place to start and recommends not only the Hoover Dam, but also several other off-the-beaten track locations which I’ve now added to my travel itinerary for the future. The “Wickenburg Jail Trees which desperadoes once were chained in lieu of jail” is just one example.

I was, however, particularly fond of the section on souvenirs which includes a list of do’s and don’ts for taking those sorts of photos that capture the best memories.


The Best of the West, 1957, © Michigan State Library. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.


More than 60 years later, the tips were still of great use. Just look at what I managed to snap!


Fun fact our guide shared with us during the tour - there is enough concrete used in the construction of the Hoover Dam to pave a standard highway, at 16 feet wide, from New York City to San Francisco.

What happens in the west doesn’t stay in the west. My memories of the visit, the things I learned talking to the academics in attendance, and even the photos I took, are testament to that fact.

About the Author

Hans Anders

Hans Anders

Based in Chicago, I liaise with faculty members all across North America, securing expert scholarly feedback on our collections and identifying new project ideas and archival opportunities.

Our unique portfolio of products allows me to draw equally on my experience in academic publishing and my education in American History and Cultural Studies. Because of my background, I know firsthand the value of digital primary sources in enhancing both research and teaching, and have a genuine investment in our products’ content.