Monsters of the Stacks: Bigfoot and Beyond
From Columbia County's "Kinderhook Creature" to the famed Himalayan Yeti, Bigfoot-like beings have long been reputed to roam the earth, leaving large humanoid footprints in their hairy wake.
October's New York State Library exhibit explored this mysterious phenomenon from a wide range of perspectives. It also includes books about the Loch Ness Monster (and other lake and river leviathans), general works on cryptozoology, and spooky stories from around the state in honor of Halloween. In addition, it features The Wilderness Hunter by Theodore Roosevelt, which contains an astonishing account of a fateful Sasquatch encounter in Idaho around 1890; and three books by NYSL employee Bruce Hallenbeck, who spoke about Bigfoot and his latest work, Monsters of New York, in the Museum's Huxley Theater on Saturday, October 12, 2013.
Display Case 1: I Saw Bigfoot
Encounters with Bigfoot in the United States are numerous, widespread, and of very long standing. These books describe such encounters in fascinating detail and gamely attempt to answer the age-old question: "What the heck was that?!"
- Bigfoot: the Yeti and Sasquatch in Myth and Reality, by John Napier, 1975
- The Search for Big Foot: Monster, Myth or Man?, by Peter Byrne; foreword by Robert Rines, 1975
- The Transformation of Bigfoot: Maleness, Power, and Belief Among the Chipewyan, by Henry S. Sharp, 1988
- The Sasquatch Report, #8, November 1990
- Mysterious Creatures: a Guide to Cryptozoology, by George M. Eberhart, vol. 1, 2002
Monsters in Our Own Backyard
Author, filmmaker, and New York State Library employee Bruce Hallenbeck has researched and written extensively on Bigfoot and other controversial cryptids—in particular the Kinderhook Creature from Columbia County, which made local headlines here in the late 1970s.
Display Case 2: Yeti, Etc.
The creature we call Bigfoot on the East Coast, and Sasquatch on the West, goes by a vast array of colorful names all across the globe: Yeti, Yowie, Opie, Windago, Orang Pendek, Abominable Snowman, Himalayan Beast, Skunk Ape, Wooly Booger, Wood Devil, Hairy Giant, Wild Man, etc.
- An Innocent on Everest, by Ralph Izzard, 1954
- The Abominable Snowman, by Ralph Izzard, 1955
- Men and Mountaineering: an Anthology of Writings by Climbers, compiled by Showell Styles, 1968
- Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life: the Story of Sub-Humans on Five Continents from the Early Ice Age until Today, by Ivan Sanderson, 1972
- Manlike Monsters on Trial: Early Records and Modern Evidence, edited by Marjorie M. Halpin and Michael M. Ames, 1980
- The Evidence for Bigfoot and Other Man-Beasts, by Janet and Colin Bord, 1984
- Mysterious Creatures: a Guide to Cryptozoology, by George M. Eberhart, vol. 2, 2002
- Altruistic Armadillos, Zenlike Zebras: a Menagerie of 100 Favorite Animals, by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, 2006
Display Case 3: Not Fish, Maybe Foul
If Bigfoot doesn't float your boat, dive into some books on the most talked about "sea serpent" in the world, Scotland's Loch Ness Monster—affectionately known as "Nessie"—along with a fanzine dedicated to Lake Champlain's own "Champ."
Smaller Display Cases (by the elevators)
Hide and Seek
The word cryptozoology means the study of "hidden" or undiscovered species. These works contain speculation about and evidence for the shy and elusive Sasquatch, as well as many other large and largely hidden inhabitants of our planet.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy…
—Hamlet, by William Shakespeare
- The Case for the Sea-Serpent, by Rupert Thomas Gould, 1930, 1969
- On the Track of Unknown Animals, by Bernard Heuvelmans, translated from the French by Richard Garnett, 1959
- In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents, by Bernard Heuvelmans, translated from the French by Richard Garnett, 1968
- Invisible Residents: a Disquisition upon Certain Matters Maritime, and the Possibility of Intelligent Life under the Waters of this Earth, by Ivan T. Sanderson, 1970
- Monsters and Mythic Beasts, by Angus Hall, 1976
- Monsters: a Guide to Information on Unaccounted for Creatures, Including Bigfoot, Many Water Monsters, and Other Irregular Animals, by George M. Eberhart, 1983
- A Romance of the Sea Serpent: or The Ichthyosaurus; Also, a Collection of the Ancient and Modern Authorities, with Letters from Distinguished Merchants and Men of Science, by Eugene Batchelder, 1849
- ISC Newsletter, International Society of Cryptozoology, vol. 8, no. 4, winter 1989
- Bernard Heuvelmans' The Natural History of Hidden Animals, edited with an introduction by Peter Bwynvay Hopkins, 2007
The Bauman Story: As Told to Theodore Roosevelt
In The Wilderness Hunter, first published in 1893, Theodore Roosevelt recounts a story told to him by a hunter named Bauman. The man and a companion had gone hunting in the mountains of Idaho when they encountered what appeared to be a Sasquatch; angry at having been shot at, the Bigfoot vandalized their campsite. This amazing incident ends tragically when Bauman's friend is ultimately killed by the creature. Roosevelt writes:
He must have believed what he said, for he could hardly repress a shudder at certain points of the tale; but he was of German ancestry, and in childhood had doubtless been saturated with all kinds of ghost and goblin lore, so that many fearsome superstitions were latent in his mind; besides, he knew well the stories told by the Indian medicine men in their winter camps, of the snowwalkers, and the specters, and the formless evil beings that haunt the forest depths, and dog and waylay the lonely wanderer who after nightfall passes through the regions where they lurk; and it may be that when overcome by the horror of the fate that befell his friend, and when oppressed by the awful dread of the unknown, he grew to attribute, both at the time and still more in remembrance, weird and elfin traits to what was merely some abnormally wicked and cunning wild beast; but whether this was so or not, no man can say….
- The Wilderness Hunter, various editions, [1893-1902]
Spook Now or Forever Hold Your Peace
Are we scared yet? Some people think Bigfoot is more of a spirit or an alien than an actual earth-bound animal. Assorted beasties and weirdies, ghosts and goblins—plus other things that go bump in the New York night....
- One More Story: Contemporary Seneca Tales of the Supernatural, as told by DuWayne Leslie Bowen, 1991
- Haunted Lakes: Great Lakes Ghost Stories, Superstitions, and Sea Serpents, by Frederick Stonehouse, 1997
- Shadows of the Western Door: Haunted Sites and Ancient Mysteries of Upstate New York, by Mason Winfield, 1997
- Adirondack Ghosts: Stories of Spirits in New York State's North Country, by Lynda Lee Macken, 2000
- Haunted Places of Western New York: a Supernatural Tour Guide, by Mason Winfield, 2003
- Empire Ghosts: New York State's Haunted Landmarks, by Lynda Lee Macken, 2004
- Leatherstocking Ghosts: Haunted Places in Central New York, by Lynda Lee Macken, 2005
- Village Ghosts of Western New York: Actors in the Half-Light, by Mason Winfield, 2006
- Haunted New York City: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Big Apple, by Cheri Revai, 2008
- Haunted Rochester: the Supernatural History of the Lower Genesee, by Mason Winfield, et al., 2008
- Ghosts of Genesee County: from Captain Kidd to the Underground Railroad, by Ralph Esposito, 2009
- Legends, Lore and Secrets of Western New York, by Lorna MacDonald Czarnota, 2009
Exhibit curated by Carol Reid