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 Librarys 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
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.