CONTACT:  GrandCanyonBiblio@earthlink.net



This bibliography began in 1974, with print editions appearing in 1981, 1990 and 1993. In 2000 a searchable database was implemented at www.grandcanyonbiblio.org, hosted by the Grand Canyon Association (now the Grand Canyon Conservancy). However, due to technological issues the database and its website were taken down in 2021. THE GRAND CANON is the definitive version; although it is not a queryable database it is fully searchable and includes hyperlinks for internal navigation if one is using the digital format rather than a selection printed out.

I have always maintained a “master copy” of the bibliography as a word-processed document (from which the online database had been updated), to which voluminous non-online improvements have been made. However, there must be some further use for the “master copy”. In light of the facts that the last print edition of the monographic bibliography was in 1993, and that tens of thousands more citations had accumulated since then, in 2010 I refashioned the master into THE GRAND CANON to make the monographic product available again in its contiguous whole. Formal editions were released on digital disks in 2012 and 2015; the third and fourth editions (2019, 2022) were posted to the Raven's Perch Media website. Downloads are encouraged.

THE GRAND CANON was made a series of publications in 2022.  Volume 1 is the fourth edition of the Introduction and Bibliography; Volume 2 is second edition of the separate Cartobibliography of the Grand Canyon and Lower Colorado River Regions; Volume 3 is the first edition of Grand Canyon, Colossal Mirror: The term “Grand Canyon” as used in geographical nomenclature, analogy, metaphor and neology.

The Raven's Perch imprint was created to accommodate the 1st Edition; its website was established in 2018. The perched-raven colophon is a detail from a lithograph published in 1861 based on artwork by Balduin Möllhausen during the Joseph C. Ives expedition on the lower Colorado River and across the southern part of the Colorado Plateau in 1858. (See the homepage of this website for that illustration and further credits.) The raven was also selected as a personal favorite, for its habit of gathering and caching objects and for its mischieviously intelligent interactions with each other and humans alike.

THE GRAND CANON is more than the definitive version of the Grand Canyon–Lower Colorado River bibliography and cartobibliography. It also includes introductory material and essays that offer a new generation of researchers insight into the process and craft of bibliography. This material explains how this bibliography is constructed, and it tenders some commentary on the purpose and utility of bibliographies in general. And finally, there is a nomenclatural compendium, which itemizes the worldwide influence the name “Grand Canyon” holds, used for the names of other places and in impressively diverse literary senses. It testifies to the great impact that the very idea of the Grand Canyon has had ever since it was made known to the world at large in the mid-19th century. Together these round out the intended monographic presentation of THE GRAND CANON. I realize full well that if this were entirely in print format, those who are accustomed to printed materials would find it easy to use despite its huge size. But it is not likely to appear in print, at least commercially, so it is produced as a PDF document. Fortunately, this allows for a friendlier type size and page format, with a substantial use of hyperlinks; and it is fully searchable. Its huge size, though, means that some searching in the PDF document can be slow, an undesired effect that is likely to dwindle with time as technology progresses.

Even with its book-like presentation THE GRAND CANON still will be used most often only in pieces; readers will home in only on specific sections and will probably not read through all of the front matter. With printed materials, it is convenient to refer to front matter to find the answer to a question that may arise concerning (for example) the format of citations, or about the intentions behind the whole work. In a digital environment, it is less likely that a user will remember that there is a large segment of front matter containing much supporting and explanatory information. One may counter that, instead, this should have been done as a series of web pages. I agree, to the point only that the web environment is useful and immediately accessible especially in smaller parts; but I disagree, too, because THE GRAND CANON preserves the whole, contiguous product as a single item. I created THE GRAND CANON to restore the monographic presentation of the overall bibliography that allows its users to examine the whole of a single product. Further, it is geographically dispersed in multiple identical copies (on digital media) as well as its PDF files being website-based, as a hedge against permanent loss such as would occur if a single website were to disappear.

In THE GRAND CANON the greatest change to the bibliography even since 2010 is some substantial reorganization within several parts of its parts, and the creation of the separate Cartobibliography. There still are 32 subject-specific parts, but several of them are now subdivided to accommodate more focused research needs. Also, some of these parts include their own appendices of informative material that goes beyond the simple bibliographical citation. The detailed contents page shows these divisions.


THE GRAND CANON is a canon. The bibliographical series that carries the label of THE GRAND CANON was named purposefully. If one bibliography were to stand out for its purposes, if it promises to be tremendously comprehensive, and if perchance it is unique in its coverage, it might as well be called a canon. And, as a series that predominantly focuses on the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River, the title plays on the mostly nineteenth century fashion of referring to Grand Canyon as “Grand Canon”. Such typog­raphy followed the introduction into non-Spanish languages of an awkward borrowing of the Spanish cañón, spelled “cañon” and meaning “canyon” (the spelling with a “y” did not appear until later in the century). Before canyon with a “y” became the norm, “cañon” was Anglicized or typogra­phically simplified as “canon”. The meaning and pronunciation of the naked “canon” was understood in context, which we today read as “canyon”. The truly Spanish cañón, as in “Gran Cañón”, was rarely used in non-Spanish works.

For THE GRAND CANON I am astonished to have felt the need to add a Catalogers Note—unheard of, I think—to the pub­lisher’s (or copyright) pages of the volumes in the series. It points out that the word “canon”, with no diacritical marks, while eclipsed by its ecclesiastical definitions, means a standard, or authoritative, list. Conveniently for THE GRAND CANON that is directed to the United States and Mexico, canon is spelled the same in English and Spanish.[1]

The word is neither “cañón” nor “canyon”. However, already in the short life of THE GRAND CANON the series title has been made into The Grand Canyon in several libraries’ catalogs; I do not know whether by inattention, unfamil­iarity with the word by individual catalogers, or by procedurally Romanizing a “foreign” word. (It is possible that the “N” was interpreted as “Ñ”—indeed, even in some Spanish typographies capital letters often omit diacritical marks—but that would be inattentively odd because the publication is about the Colorado River country of the United States and Mexico, not restricted to the Grand Canyon.) The bibliography has also been cited by individual authors who have misconstrued Canon as Canyon.

The definitive-list canon is an English word, pronounced the same as “cannon”. Among librarians and research­ers, at least, confusion with “canyon” should not occur. “Cañon” is long out of use except perhaps for literary effect (and in which case it would not be spelled without the cedilla). I hope the errors are not an expression of careless or oblivious neoacademics. I stand by this precise title; it is accurate—and whimsical. Anyway, a massive bibliography could stand some whimsy.

[1] In older Spanish, “canon” had been spelled “cánon”, though the diacritical mark has fallen into disuse. See, for example, in Thomas (Tomas) Connelly (compiler), A New Dictionary of the Spanish and English Languages, Part the First, Volume I / Diccionario Nuevo de las Dos Lenguas Española é Inglesa, Parte Primera, Tomo I (Madrid: Pedro Julian Pereyra / Madrid en la Imprenta Real, Pedro Julian Pereyra, 1798), p. 399, one of several definitions: “cánon.  Catálogo ó lista.  A catalogue, list, or roll.” (Bilingual title, publisher’s information, and definition, thus.)



Earle Spamer

My first field of study was geology at Rutgers University in the 1970s. For several years afterward I was in commercial publishing, writing about computer tech­nology — before personal computers. In the early ’80s I began an established period of employment in natural history study collections, first at the New Jersey State Museum, then in the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. My 18 years in the Academy’s employ began in 1986; before that I had been for 12 years a student research assistant and volunteer there. While on staff I was at various times a collection manager in several depart­ments and collec­tions — invertebrate paleon­tology, paleobotany, miner­alogy, mala­co­logy, general modern invertebrates (a collection of organisms other than mol­lusks, insects and arachnids), diatoms, and botany; and continued to volunteer in verte­brate paleontology. My publications have embraced each of these fields — as well as historical and bibliographical topics about the Grand Canyon and Colorado River regions. Concurrently, for seven years I was editor and managing editor of the Scientific Publications branch of the Academy, which pub­lishes peer-reviewed articles and monographs from authors around the globe in America’s oldest unin­terrupted line of serials on natural history, from 1817. My last five years at the Academy was as its Archivist, for which I had studied in the graduate program of Temple University’s Department of History. On leaving the Academy in 2005 I continued my affiliation as an elected Research Associate. For the next 14 years I was Reference Archivist in the research library of the American Philoso­phical Society, a polymathic institution in Philadelphia founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin and others as an American analogue of the Royal Society in London, whose staff supports the society’s membership and visiting researchers. Since November 2018 I am enjoying an active retirement continuing all of these interests.

Following two visits to the Grand Canyon in 1974 that included my first canyon hikes, I began work on a bibliography of the canyon and the lower Colorado River country. In 1981, the Grand Canyon Natural History Association (now the Grand Canyon Conservancy) published the first edition as a part of its new Monograph series of scholarly publications. A second edition appeared in 1990, with a supplement in 1993. In January 2000, a completely revised bibliog­raphy was placed on the Association’s website as a searchable database, which was frequently updated, but discontinued in 2021. In 2012 I privately published the first edition of THE GRAND CANON, a much-embellished resurrection of the print monograph, in digital format (PDF) that can be viewed in book layout on screen or printed to paper. The fourth edition (2022), signifi­cantly revised, embraces the years 1535–2021 and now cites 106,000 items in 114 languages.

In 1989, the 28th International Geological Congress convened in Washington, D.C., which also offered an ambitious series of field trips across the United States, two of them on the Colorado River through Grand Canyon. My first river trip was with an IGC group. In 1990, I began working as a geology interpreter on yearly summer trips in Grand Canyon with a Colorado River outfitter, continuing this until 2001. I parti­cipated in two scientific study trips through the canyon under the Glen Canyon Environ­mental Studies program administered by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, on one of which I prospected for living mollusks, the first such investigation ever to have been made along this canyon river. In 1994, I had attended a Penrose Conference sponsored by the Geological Society of America, “From the Inside and the Outside: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the History of Earth Science”. This conference for the first time brought earth scientists and historians together to discuss how each group approaches research in these comple­mentary fields; from it I developed new perspectives in my research activities, which extended into revisions of the Grand Canyon–Lower Colorado River bibliography. In 2000, I attended a geology symposium at Grand Canyon on “The Colorado River: Origin and Evolution”, the proceedings of which were edited by Richard A. Young and me. In 2012 I was honored with the annual Pioneer Award from the Grand Canyon Historical Society. Among many affiliations I hold life member­ships with the Grand Canyon Conservancy, the Grand Canyon River Guides , and the Arizona–Nevada Academy of Science.

Earle E. Spamer

[pronunciation: Spah-mer]