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American West

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Explore the story of the American West in this rich collection of primary sources.

from the Everett D. Graff Collection of Western Americana at the Newberry Library, Chicago



Comprised of original manuscripts, rare printed books, maps and ephemeral material from the Everett D.Graff Collection of Western Americana at the Newberry Library, Chicago, American West is a unique online source for the study of westward expansion from the 18th to the 20th century.

This dynamic teaching and research resource includes documents from 1718-1968. Tales of frontier life, Native Americans and vigilantes and outlaws can be found, as well as evidence of the growth of urban centres, the environmental impact of westward expansion and life in the borderlands.

The highlights of the collection include:

  • Papers of early pioneers, explorers and hunters, including items such as the original manuscript journal and papers of James Audubon.
  • Documents relating to Canada and the Pacific Northwest including accounts of the Gold Rush and of the landscape.
  • Materials such as prospectuses and city directories that chart the evolution of towns and cities.
  • Maps and records of key companies, enabling the exploration of the growth of railway and road networks.
  • Emigrants guides, manuscript travel journals, store catalogues, illustrations and maps evincing the phenomenon of Westward expansion.
  • Accounts of ranches and of the prairie lands, documenting agricultural transformation.
  • Rich resources for the study of Texas, Mexico and the South.
  • Literary and historical works – as well as contemporary newspapers and posters - for a better understanding of the real and mythic West, with first-hand accounts of the lives of vigilantes and outlaws.
  • A wealth of documents relating to Native American history and culture.

This collection complements American Indian Histories and Culture and will be welcomed by scholars working in Western American history, Southern History, the History of the Pacific Northwest, Western Literature, Film and Cultural Studies. Both The American West and American Indian Histories and Cultures are cross-searchable for a more in-depth user experience.