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        Library of Congess: Media Gallery | Westward Expansion: Encounters at a Cultural Crossroads

        In the 1830s and 1840s, “manifest destiny,” the idea that the United States was destined to expand across the entire continent, was used to promote further territorial expansion. And the nation expanded quickly: in 1845, the United States annexed Texas; in 1846 the Oregon Treaty ended British claims to Oregon Territory; in 1848, following the Mexican-American War, Mexico ceded much of the Southwest to the United States; in 1853 the United States bought an additional tract of land from Mexico. States joined the Union at a relatively fast pace: California became a state in 1850 and Oregon in 1859, Nevada in 1864, Nebraska in 1867, Colorado in 1876, South and North Dakota, Montana, and Washington in 1889, Wyoming and Idaho in 1890, and Utah in 1896. As new towns like Denver and Phoenix sprang up in these new states, established towns and cities underwent a surge in growth to accommodate the new industries and new populations that westward expansion brought with it. This set of primary resources containing images and documents provides a window into this time period, as well as a Teacher's Guide with historical context and teaching suggestions.

        http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/primarysourcesets/wdl/

        The Problem of the West

        This is a classic article from the Atlantic that examines westward expansion and the impact on the United States.

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        American Progress

        In the 1830s and 1840s, “manifest destiny,” the idea that the United States was destined to expand across the entire continent, was used to promote further territorial expansion. This painting depicts an allegorical female figure of America leading pioneers and railroads westward.

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        Denver, Colorado

        This photograph shows Denver, Colorado in 1898.

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        Working on the Last Mile of the Pacific Railroad

        This primary source depicts European and Asiatic laborers removing large rocks from a hill for completion of the last mile of the Pacific Railroad.

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        Mining Life in California-Chinese Miners

        This primary source depicts Chinese gold miners eating and attending to their hair among tents in camp.

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        The Oglala War Party

        The Oglala Sioux tribe occupied the Laramie Plains in the 19th century. This photo depicts Several Oglala men, many wearing war bonnets, on horseback riding down hill.

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        Old Mission Church

        Taken sometime between 1880 and 1899, this photograph shows the Old Mission Church in Los Angeles, California.

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        Rally Song

        Listen to a Rally song which women sang to encourage warriors when they left to defend their village against attack: "here and there the voice of a woman would be heard singing a song to inspirit the men, and at its close she gave the cry of the bird-hawk to evoke the supernatural power of this bird, which was associated with the god of war (1911, pp. 426-427)."

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        The Idaho Indian War

        The caption of this primary source photograph identifies sitters as Eagle of Light, Nez Percé; Joseph, Nez Percé; and (Smohollah). However, Bill Gulick in Chief Joseph Country: Land of the Nez Percé, 1981, identifies sitters in this image as Billy Carter, Ollokot (Chief Joseph's brother) and Middle Bear.

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        San Francisco and the Chinese

        Chinese immigrants worked in mining, ran small businesses, and helped build railroads across the West; however, they were often met with hostility and violent attacks when they attempted to settle into communities.

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        As Some Things Appear

        Kenneth Young, an African American from South Carolina, narrates his journey across the U.S. from Atlanta to the Rockies and back via the Upper Midwest and Chicago. He records his impressions of both country and people, devoting special attention to his encounters with blacks and whites. Young finds much more freedom and equality in the West than in the South.

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        Chinamen Must Go

        Chinese immigrants worked in mining, ran small businesses, and helped build railroads across the West; however, they were often met with hostility and violent attacks when they attempted to settle into communities.

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        Early Pioneer Life

        Taken from the Federal Writers' project, this document contains numerous details concerning early pioneer life. These life histories were compiled and transcribed by the staff of the Folklore Project of the Federal Writers' Project for the U.S. Works Progress (later Work Projects) Administration (WPA) from 1936-1940.

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        I Will Go West

        This sheet music discusses the benefits of moving west.

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        Interview with Bones Hooks

        Matthew (Bones) Hooks, who for years worked on Panhandle ranches as a horse wrangler and "bronc-buster", knows many tales of cowboy life in the early days, but he refuses to tell the most interesting ones "because it would rattle skeletons in the closets of prominent families" — old-timers who are still living or their descendants.

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        U.S. Map of American Indian Reservations

        This map shows Indian reservations with the limits of the United States in 1883. Compiled under the direction of the Hon. Hiram Price, Commissioner, by Paul Brodie, Draughtsman.

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        New Transcontinental Map Detailing Railroad Routes

        This document is a new trans-continental map of the Pacific Railroad and routes of overland travel to Colorado, Nebraska, the Black Hills, Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Montana, California and the Pacific Coast. The map shows relief by hachures, drainage, cities and towns, stage routes, railroads completed and projected. Main lines in heavy black.

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        Letter from Uriah Oblinger to Mattie and Ella Oblinger

        This family letter details prairie settlement life, giving a firsthand account of living in the west.

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