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A letter from an alumnus about Alfred Bush, former curator at Princeton University

January 4, 2003

December 31, 2002, marked the retirement of one of the Princeton University Library’s most creative figures, Alfred L. Bush, curator of the Princeton Collections of Western Americana and Curator of Historic Maps.

Beginning in 1958, Bush has made many significant contributions to the Princeton University community and beyond. He began as an editor of The Papers of Thomas Jefferson and published The Life Portraits of Thomas Jefferson. He soon became associate curator of manuscripts, a position later replaced by his curatorship of maps. As Western America curator, he energetically sought new material, and expanded the collection by a factor of five. He was particularly interested in, and successful at, obtaining American Indian-related and photographic materials. The collection is now one of the half-dozen best and is a magnet for scholars; it has also figured importantly in the university's teaching mission. Bush himself has taught in more than one department.

Over the years, Bush has been the leading light in the recruitment and retention of Native-American students at Princeton and has served as mentor for many. He has his own adoptive Pueblo son.

Alfred Bush organized more than 50 exhibitions in the library and a number at other institutions. The Photograph and the American Indian became a major book. He has also made contributions to the study of pre-Columbian art.

I sincerely hope that these few words will expand alumni appreciation of this outstanding Princeton-community member. I also fervently hope that the university library will recruit a suitable successor and will continue to provide its traditional support for this tremendous gem of a Western Americana collection.

Stephen C. Jett ’60
Abington, Va.

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