Development of the West

The essays in this section have been written by leading scholars of American history. They provide additional depth on events and ideas referred to in the introductory essay and, in some cases, different interpretations by historians looking at the same events. These essays are particularly useful as informational texts to introduce your students to one of the most exciting aspects of studying history—understanding the past from a variety of perspectives.

“Across the Continent,” Currier and Ives, 1868. (Library of Congress)

American Indians and the Transcontinental Railroad

Author: Elliott West Curriculum Subjects: Geography Grade Levels:
Advertisement for shares in the Union Pacific Railroad, Harper’s Weekly, August

Financing the Transcontinental Railroad

Author: Maury Klein Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Geography, Government and Civics Grade Levels:
“Scene near Deeth; Mount Halleck in distance,” by Alfred Hart, ca. 1867 (LOC)

Photographing the Transcontinental Railroad

Author: Glenn Willumson Curriculum Subjects: Art, Geography, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Grade Levels:
Justice of the Plains: The Movement Westward, John S. Curry (LC-DIG-highsm-02850

Women of the West

Author: Virginia Scharff Curriculum Subjects: Geography, Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+

Essays from Other Sub-Eras

The Empire Builders, by Bernarda Bryson, the Resettlement Administration (LOC)

Entrepreneurs and Bankers: The Evolution of Corporate Empires

Author: Robert W. Cherny Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Teenager operating machinery, 1913, by Lewis Hine. (LC-DIG-nclc-04898)

History Times: The Industrial Revolution

Author: Gilder Lehrman Institute Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Pullman porter car from Scribner’s Magazine, September 1888

Home Adrift: Women and Domesticated Rail Travel

Author: Amy G. Richter Curriculum Subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Grade Levels:
Mary E. Lease in an illustration from Puck, 1896. (LC-DIG-ppmsca-28845)

Mary Elizabeth Lease: Populist Reformer

Author: Kelly A. Woestman Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:

Photography in Nineteenth-Century America

Author: Martha A. Sandweiss Curriculum Subjects: Art, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Patent signed by James Buchanan, May 28, 1846. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Technology of the 1800s

Author: Brent D. Glass Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Letterhead from Buffalo Bill's Wild West show, 1910, detail. (GLC)

The Myth of the Frontier: Progress or Lost Freedom

Author: John Mack Faragher Curriculum Subjects: Art, Economics, Geography, Literature Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Teddy Roosevelt in the Rough Riders, ca. 1898. (GLC07002.39)

Theodore Roosevelt: The Making of a Progressive Reformer

Author: Kathleen Dalton Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+