Friday, May 7, 2010

Presentation by Lewis & Clark Book Collector

Roger Wendlick never married, and he never graduated from college, but he did amass the world's most complete collection of printed materials relating to the Lewis and Clark Expedition. He was born in Portland, graduated from Jefferson High School and attended Portland State College for a year. He tried on a variety of occupations, including working as a miner, logger, surveyor, maitre d' and wine steward, guitar player, in a paper mill, and for the US Forest Service, before landing on a career in the construction trades.

While recovering from an accident on the job, Roger decided to head abroad for a while, visiting seventeen countries over a ten-month period. When he returned to Portland he began working in construction again, and, for a variety of reasons, decided that he needed a hobby: "Why not collect something, I thought?"

What made him focus on Lewis and Clark items was something he inherited from his grandmother, who had passed away while he was in Europe: a blue souvenir dinner plate from the 1905 Lewis and Clark World's Fair in Portland. He remembered that it had always been special to her, and he began to explore its history. And thus a man's obssession was born.

In 1980, Roger began collecting materials related to the Lewis and Clark Expedition, working in heavy construction to finance his increasingly expensive obssession. His goal was to assemble the world's most complete collection of printed materials related to the expedition. In 1998, Roger achieved his goal and moved his library to Lewis and Clark College -- in a part donation/part purchase agreement. Since then, Roger has devoted himself full time to studying and teaching about the Expedition.

His book, Shotgun On My Chest: Memoirs of a Lewis and Clark Book Collector, was recently published by local 12-Gauge Press. Roger joins us Tuesday, May 11th, at 7 pm to discuss his book and the history of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. We hope you can join us for what is sure to be a fascinating presentation!

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