William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan
Finding aid for
Finding aid created by
Western America Collection, 1820-ca. 1898
Shannon Wait, February 2011
Western America collection
William L. Clements Library
The Western America collection is a group of miscellaneous individual items relating to the settlement of the western United States, including present-day Wisconsin, California, Oregon, and Missouri.
The material is in English
William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu
Access and Use
M-2032 et al.
The collection is open for research.
Copyright status is unknown
Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.
Western America Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
The collection is arranged chronologically, with undated items at the end.
In the mid-19th century, American settlers increasingly moved west in search of plentiful land and economic opportunities. The popularity of the Oregon Trail and the California Gold Rush in particular brought thousands of easterners to the west coast.
Collection Scope and Content Note
The Western America collection contains 39 miscellaneous individual items relating to the settlement of the western part of the United States, including present-day Wisconsin, Missouri, Oregon, California, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota, and Wyoming. The items span 1820 to ca. 1898, with the bulk of materials concentrated around the 1840s and 1850s. They pertain to numerous topics related to western expansion, and include descriptions of growing towns, discussions of economic opportunities and hardships, references to social customs and mores on the frontier, and scattered mentions of relations with Native Americans.
- A letter of May 20, 1832, discussing the Black Hawk War, murder by a prostitute and community backlash against her, and the tarring and feathering of an African American man.
- A description of the Oregon Territory by a recent female settler [ca. 1838].
- A frustrated miner's description of his bad luck in Placerville, California [ca. 1851].
- A letter from Santa Clara, California, concerning the love affair of a miner's wife, and the husband's subsequent abandonment of her and their child with the remark that "such is life in Cal." (June 26-28, 1854)
- A July 15, 1876, description of Geneva, Minnesota, including its ethnic mix, farming prospects, and food.
- A May 21, 1889, letter from a woman to her husband describing the cable-cars and schools of San Francisco, California.
- African Americans--West (U.S.)
- Frontier and pioneer life--West (U.S.)
- Geneva (Minn.)
- Indians of North America--West (U.S.)
- Land settlement--West (U.S.)
- Oregon Territory--History.
- San Francisco (Calif.)
- United States--Discovery and exploration.
- United States--History--19th century.
- United States--Territorial expansion.
- West (U.S.)--Description and travel.
- West (U.S.)--History.
- West (U.S.)--Social life and customs--19th century.
- Wisconsin--History--19th century.