The American West


  • Jesse James - Primary Resources: Newspaper Accounts

    Jesse James and his associates gave journalists plenty of opportunities to write dramatic stories. Read a few accounts of the bandits' murderous deeds with these primary sources, from American Experience: "Jesse James."

    Grades: 9-12
  • Annie Oakley - Biography: William "Buffalo Bill" Cody

    "Buffalo Bill" Cody's biggest achievement came as the western frontier vanished. Learn more with this article from American Experience: "Annie Oakley."

    Grades: 9-12
  • Annie Oakley - Biography: Lillian Smith

    This brassy Californian emerged as Annie Oakley's only serious female rival in Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West show. Learn more with this article from American Experience: "Annie Oakley."

    Grades: 9-12
  • Annie Oakley - Biography: Sitting Bull

    Sitting Bull was the political and spiritual resistance leader of the Sioux warriors who destroyed General George Armstrong Custer's U.S. Army forces in the famous battle of Little Big Horn. Years later he joined Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West show. A portrait of Cody and Sitting Bull together bears the title "Foes in '76 -- Friends in '85." The reality was a little more complicated. Learn more with this biography from American Experience: "Annie Oakley."

    Grades: 9-12
  • Annie Oakley - Biography: Annie Oakley

    Both lucky and extremely talented, Annie Oakley used her astonishing marksmanship to escape a poor childhood in Ohio and rise to become the first female superstar in what had been a male-dominated profession. Learn more with this resource from American Experience: "Annie Oakley."

    Grades: 9-12
  • Annie Oakley - Teacher's Resources: Teacher's Guide

    Reflect on the myths and truths of the American West, and its nostalgic representation by Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. Learn more with this teacher's guide from American Experience: "Annie Oakley."

    Grades: 9-12
  • Annie Oakley - Photo Gallery: Promotional Posters

    Regional artists conveyed nostalgia for the American West in Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show. Joining in 1885, sharpshooter Annie Oakley quickly rose to fame. Browse posters promoting Oakley, from American Experience: "Annie Oakley."

    Grades: 9-12
  • Buffalo Bill - Teacher's Resources: Teacher's Guide

    Explore insights into European colonies in North America, Westward expansion, frontier culture of the American West, relations between Native peoples and settlers, the continent's natural resources, law and lawlessness on the frontier, myths or legends of the West, nostalgia for the West, and more. Learn more with this resource from American Experience: "Buffalo Bill."

    Grades: 9-12
  • Billy the Kid - Photo Gallery: The Golden Age of the American Cowboy

    Most of the American cowboys were Northern immigrants and Confederate veterans, and came to the 19th century western frontier in the wake of the Civil War. View a gallery of these cowboys, from American Experience: "Billy the Kid."

    Grades: 9-12
  • Billy the Kid - Billy the Kid Ballad

    Mark Lee Gardner performs Woody Guthrie's ballad about the outlaw during his interview from American Experience: "Billy the Kid."

    Grades: 9-12
  • Wyatt Earp - Photo Gallery: Wyatt Earp in Popular Culture

    Since the earliest days of film and television, Wyatt Earp has personified the ultimate Western outlaw hero. Dozens of productions have told his story, and still more have characters based on him. Browse this collection of photos from movies and television programs that drew inspiration from the Wyatt Earp legend, from American Experience: "Wyatt Earp."

    Grades: 9-12
  • Custer's Last Stand - Photo Gallery: Lt. Col. George Custer

    Learn about the aggressive policies of the government and army of the U.S. towards the Native Americans of the American West with this gallery of General George Custer's life and times, from American Experience: "Custer's Last Stand."

    Grades: 9-12
  • Custer's Last Stand - Custer Behind the Scenes

    Watch this behind-the-scenes look at a program about westward expansion and General George Custer, from American Experience: "Custer's Last Stand."

    Grades: 9-12
  • The Donner Party - Teacher's Resources: Teacher's Guide

    In 1846, a group of frontier settlers set out for California only to meet with disaster in the snows of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Lead your students from myth to reality of the American West through the story of these emigrants with this teacher's guide from American Experience: "The Donner Party."

    Grades: 9-12
  • The Donner Party - Primary Resources: The Diary of Patrick Breen

    In the winter of 1847, Irish immigrant Patrick Breen kept a diary of the horrific ordeal the Donner party faced as they attempted to emigrate to California across the Sierra Nevada. Read from the journal, from American Experience: "The Donner Party."

    Grades: 9-12
  • The Donner Party - Interview: Producer Ric Burns

    Filmmaker Ric Burns talks about the making of "The Donner Party" and how very potent dreams about the American West led people astray. Learn more with this article from American Experience: "The Donner Party."

    Grades: 9-12
  • The Donner Party - General Article: Call of the West

    The promise of a fresh start in a wide open land. The opportunity to escape the oppression of overcrowded cities. The lure of undiscovered riches and the conceit of Manifest Destiny. For legions of Americans in the mid-19th century, the call of the West could not be ignored. And so they came, "saints and sinners, dreamers and schemers," to claim their place in the ever-expanding American landscape. Find out more in this article from American Experience: "The Donner Party."

    Grades: 9-12
  • Transcontinental Railroad - Primary Resources: Reports From the End of the Track

    Learn about the progress of the transcontinental railroad throughout its construction, from American Experience: "Transcontinental Railroad."

    Grades: 9-12
  • Transcontinental Railroad - Primary Resources: Mark Twain on the Railroad

    Mark Twain chronicled his experiences living and working out West in his book Roughing It, published in 1872. Read an excerpt, from American Experience: "Transcontinental Railroad."

    Grades: 9-12
  • Transcontinental Railroad - Biography: Thomas Clark Durant (1820-1885)

    Thomas Durant abandoned medicine for business, the only enterprise that could satiate his appetite for profit. Learn more about his career in the Union Pacific Railroad, with this biography from American Experience: "Transcontinental Railroad."

    Grades: 9-12

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