Preface to The Reader

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Preface to The Reader
“Trailhead to the Old West”™

Old West Daily Reader
An AD FREE, subscription, Western History website

– On the Internet since 2011 –

Old West Daily Reader is first and simplest, a daily dose of history from our Western past and a look at some of the folks who made it happen and others who seek to tell us what happened and what it all means. It’s a quick reference, organized by date, to the myriad of people, places and events that begin to describe the Old West of fact, fantasy and fiction. It will give you a little flash of insight into today’s past incarnations, or it can start you on a journey into a vivid picture of that which has gone before. A novel way of enjoying and learning about the History of the Great American Wild West. A collection of word-bytes about the past; historical hors d’ oeuvres intended to be enjoyed on their own merit, or to psyche you up to go out and find more of this complex and wonderful story. Old West Daily Reader is truly, the “Trailhead to the Old West!“™

There is little original historical research here; that’s not the point of the project. Old West Daily Reader stands on the shoulders of the thousands of people who have witnessed and written and researched our collective history and preserved it for us. This website is about making it live, interesting, accessible and useful to a broad spectrum of people today. Some of you will have but a casual interest, but others will incorporate some of it into their lives and a few will become immersed. There are plenty of references on the site to help you learn more. That said, there’s nothing wrong with just a small daily dose of history to stimulate the thoughts and imagination for the day. Viva those who wish to go no further! Welcome All!

An individual’s perception of history is interpreted and defined by many different things. In the case of Western History, many more than writers and scholars have had a hand in how we view our past. The illustrators, photographers, newspapers, “dime novels”, pulp magazines, and stage plays that entertained and informed our grandparents certainly had an influence on how they viewed and reviewed the times they lived through – and how they passed their opinions through to us. We have ever easier access to the survivors’ stories and additions to our information pool. Just the variety of names in Old West Daily Reader‘s Players’ list tells something of the people who came from all over the world to create the West we still seek to understand. There are many voices out there more than happy to interpret it for us. Old West Daily Reader seeks to represent a fairly broad spectrum picture of the Old West and related History. Sometimes distilled down to a nice taste of a tale; sometimes just a dry fact with impact on the whole. I try to find multiple sources to check dates and names, etc. but a lot of these information streams devolve back to one primary source. Often newspaper accounts, court or county records, period writings and such.

How Did The Old West Daily Reader Come About?

My performance style for my Doc Holliday Portrayal was a bit unusual in that I didn’t use scripts and no performance was ever quite the same. I worked from an extensive, self created timeline of Doc’s life, and, during those years, a detailed comprehensive, accessible memory.* I allowed myself to be subject to whim, mood and audience interest in my choice of subject matter for a given situation. I added tidbits about the world Doc lived to the timeline, so I had a better feel for the times and could add some small insight into performance. After some years I realized I wanted/needed to separate my Doc specific reference from the ever growing generic history of the times I was building. So I finally ended up with two timelines; one specific to Doc and the other about the world around his life. That was the genesis of Old West Daily Reader.

Later, my general interest in Western History started me asking myself questions about how people, places and events were related to each other, as well as to just Doc. Then too, there’s this business of how we all came to perceive what we personally and collectively think the Old West was about. I found myself reading my own creation now and then just because it was fun and interesting.  That led to more questions and I started wondering if others might not be wondering about some of the same issues. I already knew I had an argument settler, or starter, in progress. Old West Daily Reader has kind of taken on a life of its own and grows almost daily. I rather suspect it can do that for quite a spell. Old West Daily Reader won’t always tell you enough about something, but it should make you aware of a bunch of things you didn’t know about and hopefully make some new connections in your perception of the Old West. If you know a little about something, today, it’s much easier to find more.
* It ain’t there now! At this writing I’m 81 years old and there’s been a few modifications set in. I’m startin’ to think that cow ponies get taller every year.

Old West Daily Reader, itself, isn’t done.  I doubt that it will ever be.  It’s quite dynamic.  I have worked with it, on and off for over fifteen years. Having only reached a point in the last several years where I began to think it was ready to be useful to someone beside myself. I certainly hope a wide variety of people can find some use and pleasure in using it.

In light of the previous comment, it’s time I get serious about  looking for a new home and a new editor for this thing. My favorite choice would be a Western Museum big enough to afford the $ to keep it going. It will be a challenging job. Help and suggestions welcome.
Doc (updated 02/04/2023)

Further reading:

Why Isn’t OWDR free?
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