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Pioneers and Westward Expansion

Selected Books

African American Women Confront the West: 1600-2000
E185.925.A45 2003
The authors argue that African-American women in the West played active, though sometimes unacknowledged, roles in shaping the political, ideological, and social currents that influenced the United States over the past three centuries. This is the first major historical anthology on the topic.
Borneman, Walter R.
Rival Rails: The Race To Build Americas Greatest Transcontinental Railroad
HE2751.B67 2010
After the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in 1869, the race was on to find a better, shorter, less snowy route through the corridors of the American Southwest, linking Los Angeles to Chicago.
Brown, Dee
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West
E81.B75 2001
Documented account of the decimation of Native Americans in the last half of the 19th century, told from the Indian viewpoint.
Dary, David
The Oregon Trail: An American Saga
F597.D37 2004
David Dary is a chronicler of the Old West, salting his recounting of the facts with excerpts from diaries of the period. Check out his other Wild West books: The Santa Fe Trail, Cowboy Culture, and Frontier Medicine.
Gwynne, S. C.
Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History
E99.C85 P3835 2010
This book traces the rise and fall of the Comanches, the most powerful Indian tribe in American history and then tells the epic saga of the pioneer woman Cynthia Ann Parker and her mixed-blood son Quanah, who became the last and greatest chief of the Comanches.
Horsman, Reginald
Feast or Famine: Food and Drink in American Westward Expansion
GT2853.U5 H67 2008
Horsman has collected together commentary on food and drink from the diaries and commentaries of pioneers moving west, beginning with the expansion across the Alleghenies.
Kazanjian, Howard and Chris Enss
Thunder over the Prairie: The True Story of a Murder and a Manhunt by the Greatest Posse of All Time
HV6534.D634 K39 2009x
The year was 1878. Future legends of the Old West -- lawmen Charlie Bassett, Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, and Bill Tilghman -- patrolled the unruly streets of Dodge City, Kansas, then known as "the wickedest little city in America."
McCartney, Laton
Across the Great Divide: Robert Stuart and the Discovery of the Oregon Trail
F880.M455 2003
Lewis and Clark had struggled across the high Rockies on a route too perilous for wagon trains to follow. Setting out in 1812 Stuart and six companions traveled from west to east for more than 3,000 grueling miles by canoe, horseback, and ultimately by foot, following the mountains south until they came upon the one gap in the 3,000-mile-long Rocky Mountain chain that was passable by wagon. Stuart had come to the Pacific Northwest to make his fortune in the fur trade, but during his stay in the wilderness he emerged as a pioneering western naturalist of the first rank, a perceptive student of Native American cultures, and one of America's most important, if least-known, explorers.
McLynn, Frank
Wagons West: The Epic Story of America's Overland Trails
F593.M475 2002
McLynn (Professor of Literature, Strathclyde U., UK) has himself traveled the 3,000 miles of the California and Oregon Trails, and recounts stories of settlers who travelled them across the Great Plains of North America in the 19th century.
Means, Howard
Johnny Appleseed: The Man, the Myth and the American Story
SB63.C46 M43 2011
Johnny Appleseed, that nut-munching, rag-clad, barefoot nomad with a tin pot for a hat, was a real person: John Chapman, and did plant apples along the Ohio frontier in the early 1800s. Means tries to separate myth from fact.
Peavy, Linda S. and Ursula Smith
Frontier Children
Enriched by over 200 vintage photographs, Frontier Children is a visual and verbal montage of childhood in the nineteenth-century West. From a wide range of primary and secondary sources, Linda Peavy and Ursula Smith, well-known for their books on western women, have brought together stories and images that erase the stereotypes and bring to life the infinite variety of the experience of growing up in the American West.
Smith, Daniel Blake
An American Betrayal: Cherokee Patriots and the Trail of Tears
E99.C5 S632 2011
This looks closely at the forced removal of the Cherokee Nation from the eastern states to the Oklahoma Territory under the presidency of Andrew Jackson.
West, Elliott
The Contested Plains: Indians, Goldseekers and the Rush to Colorado
F591.W4527 1998
Recounts the struggles, triumphs, and defeats of both Indians and whites as they pursued their clashing dreams in Colorado during the mid-1800s. After centuries of many peoples fashioning their own cultures on the plains, the Cheyenne and other tribes found in the horse the power to create a heroic way of life that dominated the grasslands. The discovery of gold by whites challenged that way of life and led finally to the Indian Wars of the 1860s.


Last stand at Little Big Horn
This episode of the PBS TV series, American Experience, examines the Battle of Little Big Horn, also known as Custer's Last Stand, from the perspective of the Lakota, Sioux, Cheyenne, and Crow who lived on the Great Plains and from that of the white settlers who pushed west across the continent. It is a downloadable video.
Custer's Last Stand
(DVD) E83.876.C983 C869 2012x
Like everything else about General George Custer, his martyrdom was shrouded in controversy and contradictions. The final act of his larger-than-life career played out on a grand stage with a spellbound public engrossed in the drama. In the end, his death would launch one of the greatest myths in American history. Part of the Wild West collection.
Geronimo and the Apache Resistance
Chiracahua Apaches tell their own story, a different story from the myths we have learned about the Apaches and about Geronimo (1829-1909).
Lewis and Clark
This is the PBS photodocumentary by Ken Burns about the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804, when a party of explorers called the Corps of Discovery headed west into the newly acquired Louisiana Territory searching for the fabled Northwest Passage.
The Railroads that Tamed the West
(DVD) TF25.P23 R3525 2005x
Chronicles the creation of the transcontinental railroad which, after three decades of intensive labor, linked East and West, thus transforming the American landscape and creating unimagined opportunities for industry and commerce.
Transcontinental Railroad
(DVD) TF25.P23 T7325 2005x
Explores the travails of the entrepreneurs and engineers behind the building of the transcontinental railroad. Discusses effects of the railroad's creation on Native American and Chinese immigrant populations. Describes how the railroad transformed the landscape of the American West.

Web Sites

  • The First American West: The Ohio River Valley, 1750-1820
    An American Memory collection from the Library of Congress, The First American West documents the travels of the first Europeans to enter the trans-Appalachian West, the maps tracing their explorations, their relations with Native Americans, and their theories about the region's mounds and other ancient earthworks.
  • Amana Colonies
    This is a website from the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places. The Amana Colonies in eastern Iowa were established shortly before the Civil War by a group of German-speaking European settlers who belonged to a religious group known as the Community of True Inspiration
  • Encyclopedia of Chicago
    Created by the Chicago Historical Society, the Encyclopedia of Chicago includes thousands of historical resources-including articles, photos, maps, broadsides and newspapers related to Chicago's colorful and complex history. Search or browse alphabetically by topic.
  • Camping with the Sioux
    This is a Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, National Anthropological Archives website about the diaries of Alice Cunningham Fletcher, who went to live among the Sioux women in 1881 and record their way of life.
  • Conner Prairie Living History Museum
    An open-air living history museum located in Fishers, Indiana, serving as a local, regional, and national center for research and education about the lives, times, attitudes, and values of early 19th-century settlers in the Old Northwest Territory, based upon the Indiana experience.
  • Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture
    Has information on the Westward Expansion 1803-1861 and the Territorial Era 1861-1907.
  • Kentucky: Our New Kentucky Home
    Immigration to Kentucky from 1770 to the present from the Kentucky Historical Society.
  • Mountain Men and the Fur Trade
    an on-line Research Center devoted to the history, traditions, tools, and mode of living, of the trappers, explorers, and traders known as the Mountain Men. You may search their index of historic source texts and if you are lucky, it will retrieve journals and accounts of the period.
  • North Dakota State University Institute for Regional Studies: Exhibits
    These online collections provide information about North Dakota homesteading.
  • Prairie Settlement: Nebraska photographs and family letters
    An American Memory Project digital collection that integrates two collections from the holdings of the Nebraska State Historical Society: the Solomon D. Butcher photographs and the letters of the Uriah W. Oblinger family. Together they illustrate the story of settlement on the Great Plains.
  • PBS: New Perspectives on The West
    The PBS photodocumentary
  • Texas Beyond History
    Texas Beyond History (TBH) is a public education project of the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory at The University of Texas at Austin and the Texas Archeological Society. Its purpose is to share the results of archeological and historical research on the cultural heritage of Texas with the citizens of Texas and the world.
  • Texas State Library and Archives Commission: Doing a Report on Texas?
    Suggested online resources available for students about Texas History, travel, facts, government, etc.
  • Tracking the Buffalo
    A Hands On History activity from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History that explores the role of the buffalo in the lives of the American Indians of the northern plains.
  • Unpacking on the Prairie: Jewish Women in the Upper Midwest
    This is an online exhibit by the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest tracing the arrival of Jews in the Upper Midwest (Minnesota and the Dakotas) from German-speaking countries and then from Eastern Europe and Russia in the 1880s and later.
  • US-Mexican War 1846-1848
    The companion website to the documentary by KERA Dallas-Fort Worth, this site is available in English and Spanish.

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Lewis & Clark

  • The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
    From the University of Nebraska
  • Lewis & Clark: 200 years later
    This Pittsburgh Post-Gazette series of eight articles from July and August of 2003 examine the Lewis and Clark expeditions, and the Pittsburgh they found when they arrived to launch their journey. The first article gives background information, provides links to additional material and a list of books, and includes an article about the expedition's start in Pittsburgh.
  • Lewis & Clark Resource Guide
    Multnomah County (Portland, Oregon) Library Homework Center Lewis & Clark expedition guide for students/educators. Includes searchable journal e-texts, maps, & natural discoveries. Site includes a bibliography, online lesson plans and further teacher resources.
  • Lewis & Clark (National Geographic)
    An interactive journey log that includes information about the plants and animals they encountered.
  • Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
    Today's trail follows their route as closely as possible given the changes over the years. It is approximately 3,700 miles long, beginning near Wood River, Illinois, and passes through portions of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.
  • Lewis and Clark (PBS)
    Websites and information to accompany the photodocumentary by Ken Burns about the exploration of the American Northwest in 1804. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark left St. Louis and traveled up the Missouri, crossed the Rockies, and went down the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean.
  • Lewis and Clark Trail
    A commercial website that traces the Lewis and Clark Trail, providing information about each section and linking to tourist sites and facilities along the route.
  • Lewis & Clark: The Ultimate Adventure
    A special report from Time Magazine for the bicentennial, 1803-2003.

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Oregon Trail