Rivers of America Series

One of my favorite books to stumble upon is a nice first edition of the “Rivers of America” series. Who wouldn’t like to make a collection of all sixty-five books in this fine series?

The Genesee (signed by author Henry Clune) Holt, Rinehart Winston, 1963

It all began in 1937 with Kennebec: Cradle of Americans by Robert P. Tristram Coffin, published by Farrar & Rinehart. The last book, The American: River of El Dorado, by Margaret Sanborn was published in 1974 by Holt, Rinehart and Winston.   In all, four publishers were involved with the continuation of the series over a 37-year period. Excellent writers, illustrators and editors were utilized in producing high quality books which have become very collectible in their original editions, and continue to be reprinted to this day.

The Savannah, by Thomas L. Stokes; Rinehart, 1951

Here are some highlights (courtesy of Wikipedia):

The series includes the first book illustrated by Andrew Wyeth, The Brandywine; Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ The Everglades: River of Grass which successfully focused public attention on the plight of the Everglades; Paul Horgan’s Great River: The Rio Grande in America History, considered the definitive study of the early Southwest; and poet Edgar Lee Masters’ The Sangamon.

The series represents one of the finest long-term efforts by a publisher to blend the talents of both writers and artists to present a tribute to the rivers that played such a vital role in the development of America. A testament to the editors’ outstanding work is the fact that many of these volumes continue to be reprinted and the original editions are now considered highly collectible. On April 9 and 10, 1997, a group of Rivers of America authors and illustrators were brought together by the Library of Congress to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the series. The Library of Congress published an Information Bulletin highlighting the celebration on June 7, 1997. 1

A set of War Editions was published between 1942-1945 and also a series of paperback Armed Services Editions, which are also collectible.

The Connecticut, by Walter Hard; Rinehart, 1947

All books pictured above are first editions.  To view “Rivers of America” titles currently available at Old Scrolls Book Shop, click HERE.

1Wikipedia, Rivers of America Series.

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I love this set of books and want to read the whole series. It’s a wonderful way to learn American history. I was disappointed to discover that the Chula Vista Library (the library I use the most) got rid of their entire collection of Rivers of America. They also seem to have a lot less of their good old books. They have plenty of room for their new books. Fortunately, I also use the Coronado Library and I don’t think they would ever get rid of this set. I’ll also be happy when the new San Diego downtown library opens next year. They have the ROA series and they’ll have lots of space for both new and old books, including those books that have been in storage.

    • Laura,
      Thank you so much for your comment. It is sad when libraries ditch older books that are so well written and full of excellent information and timeless history, often to be replaced by newer books that aren’t nearly as good. I love reading about the rivers of America, as these waterways were the only mode of relatively easy travel available to the Native Americans, early explorers and settlers. They determined where towns sprang up and where business thrived, and there is so much history in the old river towns.
      – Cathy


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