Exhibit: Outdoor Life: Camping and Woodcraft
from a library career familiar with
information organization, Kephart
carefully collected his research material
for all his published works. His note
system evolved over time. Many early
notes are still held on library catalog
cards. He also collected notes in
a variety of bound notebooks. Many
of these early notes were later incorporated
into the system of loose leaf thesis
binders that could grow with additional
information and currently holds the
bulk of his research notes. In these
research journals, Kephart developed
elaborate index and page numbering
systems that could also incorporate
future material in careful organization
based on library catalog schemes.
Particularly thrift, Kephart recycled by using the back side of various
papers. Note paper includes a variety of unused printed stationary no
longer needed notes from earlier, and draft pages of his writings. Many
pages were on Bryson City stationary from when Kephart served as town
chariman. Archivists identified the few pages of draft material while
preparing for this current exhibit. These pages are included in the searchable
Research notes included hand written quotes, clippings from earlier notes,
and clippings from publications of both text material and advertisements
for equipment. He also organized the notes with subject headings and included
cross references to related subjects.
This page from journal seven covering footgear begins with the subject
of moccasins. Here the following quotes are collected:
Footgear. (See 306, Shoemaking, Moccasin making.)
Moccasins. "A moccasin is to all intents and purposes a leather
sock, so that the foot has full play, and can bend and grasp as nature
intended. At the first attempt the pains of practically walking barefooted
amongst sticks and sharp stones are of course severe. But after a few
days the foot becomes hardened, and can stand much knocking about, and
then it is that one begins to appreciate what Mr. Pike happily names 'the
moccasin of freedom', and to despise the boot of civilisation; for you
soon find that you can walk easily, swiftly, and silently for long distances
without becoming tired, that your foot does not stick in deep mud, that
you can move with ease upon slipping logs, and, most important of all,
that you do not break every twig that you may chance to step on. It would
be utterly hopeless to attempt to stalk in boots in a North-western forest.
You would see more game in Picadilly." (Somerset, 100)
In the depth of winter, moose or caribou hide is warmest. Toward spring,
oil-tanned or moose shanks are preferable. The latter are quite waterproof,
but do not last long, being merely green hide stripped from the beast's
hock and then sewn up with waxed thread. Two pairs of thick worsted socks
are sufficient for the coldest weather. (C.A.B. in S.&F., VI,
Towards spring, an oil-tanned shoe pack is occasionally useful and
certainly keeps the feet dry, but
is by no means a perfect foot-gear,
as, when snowshoeing, the toe slips
back a little at every step unless
the heel strap is painfully tight.
The best moccasins for cold weather
are of caribou or moose hide (the
former being by far the best). They
should be Indian-tanned and cut low
(see ill.). During March and
April nothing can compare with moose
shanks, these being merely the green
hide removed (shown in ill.,
AA to BB) from the freshly killed
beast, then sewn up at the toes and
a running-string inserted round the
tops. Snowshoeing in these is delightful;
but they are perishable in the extreme.
Large, gray, country oversocks, knit
for use not to sell, are the best
things out for dead of winter. (Saint
Croix in S.&F., VIII, 52.)
"For dry weather and dry land, winter or summer, in the woods,
in the mountains, or in the plains, the most comfortable and serviceable
of all footgear is a heavy buckskin moccasin....The moccasin is the most
natural, rational, perfect piece of foot-wear ever worn by human beings."
(Shields, Camping & Camp Outfits, 18.)
"In timber or on the plains, where the are no cacti, the soleless
Chippewa or Crow moccasins should be worn. In northern Montana, where
the prickly pear is common, the Dakota (or Sioux) moccasin with par-flesh
soles, made from pemmican bags, and firmly sewed with sinew, do good service.
For winter, wear in the north, the buckskin moccasin partially filled
with hay and worn over woolen socks and footings of blanket, will be found
very comfortable. The perspiration freezes in the hay, and after a hard
day's tramp a solid cake of ice will often be found, while the feet are
warm and dry." (Batty, How to hunt & trap, 13-13.)
Without the use of word processors, Kephart drafts
were typed. He would then mark
changes and make the corrections
on a future draft. In these
drafts he selected details and
observations from his collected
clippings and quotes and integrated
them into narrative form. The
majority of the first edition
was previously published as
articles in Field and Stream
and Sports Afield. Almost
inevitably the narrative grew
in detail with each draft. This
provided readers with additional
information and Kephart with
additional income since he was
paid by the word. The first
edition of Camping and Woodcraft
also included photographs.
When Kephart expanded Camping and Woodcraft into two volumes
in the 1916 edition, he adapted the earlier book for more of a vacation
camper than hard core outdoorsman. His description of moccasins
changed accordingly. Descriptions of how to prepare "Shanks"
from a freshly killed elk or moose were dropped. Instead additional
commentary on suggested moccasins are better made over a formal
shoe last for a better fit and suggestions of "sneakers"
as a comfortable alternative to moccasins that would better appeal
to the casual camper. Kephart also included additional sketches
in this edition. However, the photographs from the first edition
While the needs of less formal campers were incorporated into the
new edition, Kephart maintained details for the hardened outdoorsman.
He also received correspondence about subjects in the book in requesting
more information. The letter from Martin Baker of Birmingham, England
shows the wide reach of Kephart in addressing the needs of campers
at all levels of expertise. In responding to Baker, Kephart incorporates
material from his notes. Kephart also takes the opportunity to promote
the latest edition of the book now published by Macmillan.
Kephart ended his long publishing relationship with Outing in the
spring of 1923 over problems with payment. Outing ultimately went
bankrupt while still owing Kephart money. At this point Kephart
moved away from writing outdoors material and began working with
28 Saint Paul's Square,
November 16th. 1921.
As a delighted reader of your book, "Camping and Woodcraft"
may I venture to ask for help? It is not possible to obtain "Smoke
tanned caribou moccasins in this country, can you put me in touch
with a firm who can supply? I want about 1/2 dozen pairs, suitable
for camping and canoe work, size as outline of foot enclosed, (Which
is wearing one army sock of normal thickness to give an idea.)
As you are doubtless aware, the shoes obtainable here are all
for town wear, and your description,
combined with what I have already
learned, emboldens me to try
and get the real thing.
My camping has for years combined canoeing, and dry fly fishing
for trout, including some tramping light, but the possibilities
here are of course limited.
Thanking you in anticipation of your reply, and for very many
happy hours with your book,
Horace Kephart, Esq.
Bryson City. N.C.
City, North Carolina, USA
3 December, 1921.
Martin Baker, Esq.
Caribou moccasins are not sold by the sporting goods houses but are
procured from natives "on the spot." But there are a few houses
in the United States that keep in stock moccasins made from Alaska reindeer
hide, which is practically the same as caribou -- that is, has the same
qualities. The reindeer of Alaska are bred from Lapp reindeer imported
by our government and domesticated by the Indians of Alaska.
I have sent your address to the following houses and asked them to
send you price lists:
Hudson Bay Fur Co., 918 First Avenue, Seattle, Wash.
D. Pike Co., 116 John St., New York.
Metz & Schloerb, 88 Pain St., Oshkosh, Wis.
From the first-named firm I think you could procure caribou skins,
Indian tanned. Then you could have them made up into moccasins by a cobbler
at home. It would be advisable to get a pair of moosehide moccasins, or
reindeer, from one of the houses named above, as a pattern, so that your
shoemaker could see how they are made. He could then fit you with others
he would make from the caribou or reindeer skin you imported. The Indian
[woman] uses no last in making moccasins, but simply measures the man's
foot and then works by eye alone. You would get a better fit if they were
made over a lasts.
An Indian tanned reindeer skin (Alaska) averages about 3x4 feet, and
sold in 1915, at Seattle, for $7.00. I do not know the price today.
Thank you very much for you kind appreciation of my "Camping
and Woodcraft." I hope you have the last edition, published this
year by the Macmillan Co., London and New York, the two volumes bound
in one. It is on thin paper, fabrikoid cover, and makes a handy book for
the pocket, despite its nearly 900 pages.