The American West, 1850-1900

This is a 10-week workshop, starting on February 21, 2017

Moderator:                Dean Poli
Co-moderator:        Larry Ambs
Day and Time:         Tuesday, 9:30-11:30 AM
Location:                    UMass Transit Center, Amherst
(parking permit required; provided to participants by moderator)

In this seminar we will study the development and events of the American West between 1850 and 1900, from the perspective of the various peoples who populated the region. The emphasis will be on the period following the Civil War.

Following the Civil War, Americans turned their energies from the war between the northern and southern states toward the development of the Western United States. The conflicts accompanying this Western Expansion were not just between Easterners and the frontier, but also between and among Easterners and Mexicans, Native Americans, and other racial groups. Native Americans also had their conflicts with other Native Americans over land and animal resources. The history of the American West was not a simple case of the development of land and resources, but also the forging of a nation.

Role of participants:
Participants will be expected to prepare a short presentation concerning the role various people, places, and events had on the development of the West. Among the individuals one can choose are such Western legends as Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, George Armstrong Custer, Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull.  Among the places one can chose are Wounded Knee, The Oregon Trail, and events such as the development of the Transcontinental Railroad, the Lincoln County wars, and the Sand Creek Massacre.

Two useful publications are The American West – A Very Short Introduction, by Stephen Aron and The Oxford History of the American West, by Milner, O’Connor and Sandweiss.  Also useful are the PBS series on the American West by Ken Burns, and the AMC channel series also on the American West.  The Ken Burns program is available through the various Five College libraries and the AMC program may be available via ON DEMAND on HBO.  There are also various web sites dealing with the history of the American West.

About the Moderators:
Both moderators have moderated and/or co-moderated several seminars since joining LIR.  Most of their seminars have dealt with historical topics.