The William F. Cody Series on the History and Culture of the American West, in association with The Papers of William F. Cody, fosters new work examining the regional, national, and international reach of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody and his broad impact on an emergent mass culture. Published by the University of Oklahoma Press, this series emphasizes scholarly monographs exploring the development of the American West and its representation in Wild West exhibitions and other forms of popular entertainment. Series editors seek works examining the Buffalo Bill phenomenon as well as the related movements that shaped and popularized the frontier in American national consciousness.
Frank Christianson – Brigham Young University
Jeremy M. Johnston – Buffalo Bill Center of the West
Douglas Seefeldt – Ball State University
Each volume in the series is accompanied by a digital component that features relevant primary sources from The William F. Cody Archive, annotations, and other multimedia content.
Frank Christianson, ed., The Popular Frontier Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Transnational Mass Culture. The William F. Cody Series on the History and Culture of the American West (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2017
When William F. Cody introduced his Wild West exhibition to European audiences in 1887, the show soared to new heights of popularity and success. With its colorful portrayal of cowboys, Indians, and the taming of the North American frontier, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West popularized a myth of American national identity and shaped European perceptions of the United States. The Popular Frontier is the first collection of essays to explore the transnational impact and mass-cultural appeal of Cody’s Wild West. How did Europeans respond to Cody’s vision of the American frontier? And how did European countries appropriate what they saw on display? Addressing these questions and others, the contributors to this volume consider how the Wild West functioned within social and cultural contexts far grander in scope than even the vast American West. Among the topics addressed are the pairing of William F. Cody and Theodore Roosevelt as embodiments of frontier masculinity.
Steve Friesen, Lakota Performers in Europe: Their Culture and the Artifacts They Left Behind. The William F. Cody Series on the History and Culture of the American West (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2017).
From April to November 1935 in Belgium, fifteen Lakotas enacted their culture on a world stage. Wearing beaded moccasins and eagle-feather headdresses, they set up tepees, danced, and demonstrated marksmanship and horse taming for the twenty million visitors to the Brussels International Exposition, a grand event similar to a world’s fair. The performers then turned homeward, leaving behind 157 pieces of Lakota culture that they had used in the exposition, ranging from costumery to weaponry. In Lakota Performers in Europe, author Steve Friesen tells the story of these artifacts, forgotten until recently, and of the Lakota performers who used them. The 1935 exposition marked a culmination of more than a century of European travel by American Indian performers, and of Europeans’ fascination with Native culture, fanned in part by William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody’s Wild West from the late 1800s through 1913.
Julia Bricklin, America’s Best Female Sharpshooter The Rise and Fall of Lillian Frances Smith. The William F. Cody Series on the History and Culture of the American West (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2017).
Today, most remember “California Girl” Lillian Frances Smith (1871–1930) as Annie Oakley’s chief competitor in the small world of the Wild West shows’ female shooters. But the two women were quite different: Oakley’s conservative “prairie beauty” persona clashed with Smith’s tendency to wear flashy clothes and keep company with the cowboys and American Indians she performed with. Being the best female sharpshooter in the United States was not enough, however, to differentiate Lillian Smith from Oakley and a growing number of ladylike cowgirls. So Smith reinvented herself as “Princess Wenona,” a Sioux with a violent and romantic past. Performing with Cody and other showmen such as Pawnee Bill and the Miller brothers, Smith led a tumultuous private life, eventually taking up the shield of a forged Indian persona. The morals of the time encouraged public criticism of Smith’s lack of Victorian femininity, and the press’s tendency to play up her rivalry with Oakley eventually overshadowed Smith’s own legacy.
Sandra K. Sagala, Buffalo Bill on the Silver Screen: The Films of William F. Cody. The William F. Cody Series on the History and Culture of the American West (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2013).
For more than thirty years, William F. Buffalo Bill Cody entertained audiences across the United States and Europe with his Wild West show. Scores of books have been written about Cody’s fabled career as a showman, but his involvement in the film industry–following the dissolution of his traveling show–is less well known. In Buffalo Bill on the Silver Screen, Sandra K. Sagala chronicles the fascinating story of Cody’s venture into filmmaking during the early cinema period. In 1894 Thomas Edison invited Cody to bring some of the Wild West performers to the inventor’s kinetoscope studio. From then on, as Sagala reveals, Cody was frequently in the camera’s eye, eager to participate in the newest and most popular phenomenon of the era: the motion picture. In 1910, promoter Pliny Craft produced The Life of Buffalo Bill, a film in which Cody played his own persona. After his Wild West show disbanded, Cody fully embraced the film business, seeing the technology as a way to recoup his financial losses and as a new vehicle for preserving America’s history and his own legacy for future generations.