To the Mountaintop: A Social History of Mountaineering

Mountains are as much a part of the human psyche as they are a part of the landscape. In his last speech, Martin Luther King spoke of having “been to the mountaintop” and seen a land of greater promise, and Americans proudly sing the lines, “From every mountainside, let freedom ring.” Literally and symbolically, mountains are a source of liberation. But in helping some reach new heights, mountains have also been the backdrop to past and present struggles.

This online exhibition features rare books, historical photographs, and manuscripts that are a starting point for exploring the complex relationship between our love of high altitudes and issues of gender, race, and class. Drawn from the Division of Archives & Special Collections at the Western Washington University Libraries, the materials were originally displayed in the Special Collections exhibition gallery at WWU from September 26, 2018 to March 22, 2019.



Exhibition curated by Michael Taylor, Special Collections Librarian, Western Washington University Libraries

Online exhibition designed by Anais Avila

Cover photo: "Mount Baker panorama, undated" courtesy of the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, Henry C. Engberg Photographs