Print ISBN: 978-1-61925-533-3
# of Pages: 334
# of Volumes: 1
Print List Price: $175
e-ISBN: 978-1-61925-534-0
eBook User Price: $175
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Defining Documents in American History: The American West (1836-1900)

Editor: Michael Shally-Jensen, PhD
January 2015

Defining Documents in American History series, consists of a collection of essays on important historical documents by a diverse range of writers on a broad range of subjects in American history.

Defining Documents in American History: American West surveys key documents produced from 1836-1900, organized under seven broad categories:

  • Shifting Borders
  • Westward Movement
  • Indian Wars and Woes
  • Asian American Affairs
  • Cowboys and Outlaws
  • Environmental Actions
  • Beyond the West

Historical documents provide a compelling view of this unique period of American history. Designed for high school and college students, the aim of the series is to advance historical document studies as an important activity in learning about history.

Essay Format
American West contains 45 primary source documents– many in their entirety. Each document is supported by a critical essay, written by historians and teachers, that includes a Summary Overview, Defining Moment, Author Biography, Document Analysis, and Essential Themes. Readers will appreciate the diversity of the collected texts, including journals, letters, speeches, political sermons, laws, government reports, and court cases, among other genres. An important feature of each essay is a close reading of the primary source that develops evidence of broader themes, such as author’s rhetorical purpose, social or class position, point of view, and other relevant issues. In addition, essays are organized by section themes, listed above, highlighting major issues of the period, many of which extend across eras and continue to shape American life. Each section begins with a brief introduction that defines questions and problems underlying the subjects in the historical documents. A brief glossary included at the end of each document highlights keywords important in the study of the primary source. Each essay also includes a Bibliography and Additional Reading section for further research. Several maps in the front matter of this work help visualize the western territories as they were created as well as Native American territory borders.


  • Chronological List arranges all documents by year.
  • Web Resources is an annotated list of web sites that offer valuable supplemental resources.
  • Bibliography lists helpful articles and books for further study.

View a Full List of Defining Document Titles