DEADWOOD, S.D. – Photographs and written accounts of the life of Martha Canary, alias Calamity Jane, and the history of Deadwood can now be found at the Museum of Letters and Manuscripts (Musée des Lettres et Manuscrits) in Paris, France. Gregory Monro, a Parisian history buff with a passion for the American West, scheduled and conceived the exhibit, titled “Calamity Jane, the Legend of the West.” The Adams Museum provided several historic photograph scans as well as a written summary of the history of Deadwood and written content from their own exhibits on Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok. The Deadwood Historic Preservation office provided several photographic scans as well, including two of the most famous images of Wild Bill Hickok. Calamity Jane is a popular character in France, revered both as a comic book heroine and a symbol of women’s liberation.
The exhibit has been on display since January 30, 2007 and will run until April 29, 2007. According to Gregory Monro, the display is three-fold in purpose; it explores the origin of the myth surrounding Calamity Jane, investigating how Martha Canary evolved into a legend by looking specifically at her childhood and the cultural condition of the United States and Deadwood when she was alive. Second, the exhibit studies the evolution of her legend from the time of her own life until today. It is this section of the exhibit that features the influential people she knew and kept company with, including Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild Bill Hickok, both legends in their own right. The final component is a 20 minute documentary Monro filmed when he was in Deadwood in May 2006. The short film features three contemporary western women who portray Calamity Jane and offers their points of view on both the woman and legend. The exhibit also includes the intimate correspondence between Calamity Jane and the woman who claims to be her daughter, original letters dating from 1877 to 1902, as well as the letters of Wild Bill Hickok, Buffalo Bill Cody and Jesse James.
The Museum of Letters and Manuscripts is located in the heart of Saint Germain and housed in a 1608 mansion. The museum brings to light treasures of the written word, many of them unpublished. It includes the work of great world citizens: statesmen, artists, musicians, scientists and mathematicians. Additionally on display are documents related to the Holocaust and the Siege of Paris in 1870.
A promotional image of Calamity Jane, the Legend of the West from the Museum of Letters and Manuscripts is available upon request.
The Adams Museum, Historic Adams House and Homestake-Adams Research Center identify, preserve, collect, interpret and promote the history and culture of Deadwood and the surrounding Black Hills. www.AdamsMuseumAndHouse.org