The American West: Borders and Frontiers (aka Frontiers)


Course Schedule of Readings and Assignments

Yosemite Women Dancing  
Women dancing on Glacier Point at Yosemite National Park in the 19th century. The federal government set aside the park in 1894 -- and from then on the area was a site of power struggles. The picture, a quintessential western image, represents many of the themes of the 19th and 20th centuries in United States history including environmental preservation, women's rights, and the struggle between the federal government and local governments. California Historical Society  

You should have the following books:

Shadows at Dawn, Karl Jacoby

The New West Reader, Philip Connors

The Lessening Stream, Michael Logan



The assignments are due on the day they are listed.


August 13: Introductions

Homework: Read "Believing in the American West" by Limerick in New West Reader

August 17:Where is the West? Roundtable

River Assignment

Use the Internet to find information about the state you were assigned last class.

Writing : You will write a minimum 600 word ( pages double-spaced) autobiography on the river you've researched. Have fun with this. Write from the river's point of view and tell the life of the river from its beginnings through to today (with particular focus on what happens to it in the 19th and 20th centuries -- so don't spend forever on 5 million years ago!).


You should include the following:

where do you, the river, flow? where are your headwaters and where is your terminous?

Your economics -- what different roles have you played in human economics over your lifetime?

your the geography (generally)

peoples who have used and lived alongside you

your ecology (flora and fauna that depend on the river)

who owns/uses the water in you?

what states do flow through? which one(s) are your favorite?

ONE way in which you have been networked (industrial/manufacturing trade? agriculture? labor? culture? to other places (nationally or internationally)

Sources: You may want to use the World Atlas.

You MAY use Wikipedia, but if you do you must use another site as well!

Grade will be determined in the following way -- depth and completeness of information in autobiography (see list above); the creativity of the storytelling; quality of presentation in roundtable (offered information willingly, had good command of information, made at least one comparison with another river).

This is our first visual and contextual introduction "the West" -- please make these awesome!

Rivers from which to choose: Colorado (multi-state), Columbia(WA and OR), Klamath(CA), Rio Grande (NM), Snake (ID), Powder (WY), Animas (CO), Platte (CO), Missouri (multi-state), Yellowstone (MT/WY), American (CA), Wilammette (OR)


Aug DAY 19: Lecture and debrief on river research

Water in the West Introduction

Objectives: Learn the general water law of the West, the politics of aridity, and the supply/demand gap of 2015

READ: The Colorado River Compact of 1922 -- please print it out and annotate each section of the document. It will be hard...look up words you don't know!


Aug 24: Narrow in on one story about water in the arid West

WATCH: Parts 2, 3, 4 (about 27 min) of Cadillac Desert (it has a few glitches, but just be patient)

WRITE: Keep notes on the film (may be handwritten). You will turn these in. On a separate sheet from your notes answer the following questions (please type and pay attention to grammar and spelling):

What is the plot of the story? Where does it occur? Who are the most important characters? Is this a story of triumph or tragedy? Is Mullholland a hero or a villain? What role does the Owens River play in the history of LA? What networks existed to make this story possible? What networks were destroyed and created as a result of the aqueduct?

Are you like me and you need to READ something that helps you understand the story? Check this out!


Aug 26: Work on Hetch Hetchy assignment -- one more story

For our in-class debate, you must read the following sources and prepare a character to play (based on the pro/con position you are assigned below) in a debate about the wisdom of putting the dam in Hetch Hetchy. You must come to class prepared with a written opening statement on your position regarding the Hetch Hetchy dam and two rebuttals against arguments you anticipate coming from the other side. You must write and act as though you were attending a Congressional hearing in 1912. You will turn in the written materials for a grade.

PRO building of Hetch Hetchy:

CON building of Hetch Hetchy:


Restoring Hetch Hetchy Organization

Sierra Club on Hetch Hetchy

BAWSACA (the agency that controls the dam and delivers the water)


Problem Solving on "A Biography of America"

A List of Sources from The Virtual Library of the City of San Fransisco

History Matters section on Hetch Hetchy


Aug 31: Hetch Hetchy Debate


Sept 2: Lecture - So let's back up....How'd we even get here?

READ: Variations on a Theme by Crevecoeur" Stegnar in New West Reader -- pp 105-118

READ: Chpt 3 in The Lessening Stream

and this question assignment

SKIM Chpt 4 in The Lessening Stream

In-class reading and Primary Source Lesson: Major Problems pp 160-162 (HANDOUT)


TIME: Early-Mid 19th Century

Sept 8: Cultural Contacts, Old World Networks, Fur, and trails-- ROUNDTABLE -- remember DB to hand back original group grade rubric with their intention for improvement!

READ: Dan Flores, Bison article (Handout)


Research the mountain man/trapper you have been assigned (his biography should appear in several places on-line) and write a 300 word "blog-like" entry on his life and times. Be sure to explain to us the networks and connections he brought to the West when he came to trade/trap.

Jim Bridger

Jedediah Smith

John C Fremont

William Bent

Peter Ogden

READ: HANDOUT "Ascending the Plains" from Hard Road West


Sept 10: Research the Mountain Meadows Massacre -- find an answer to the question "Who was at fault for this incident"? based on the source you are given -be prepared to tell us something about the source/author that you read! We will have a mystery solving ORAL ROUNDTABLE you will have some questions to answer for preparation but no essay

Religious Tolerance Website(Ben, Haven)

Wikipedia (James, Jacob, Ruby)

The Mormon Church (Catherine, Dora, Lauren)

Anti-Mormon take on the Massacre (Alexa, Wyatt)


1) What exactly happened on Sept 11 1857?

2) Who ordered the attack?

3) Did the emigrants do anything to deserve the attack?

4) How should we remember the massacre?



Sept 15: Essay on Early Expansion Due!

Sept 17: Mr. Mossman and Mormonism Introduction -- no new homework


Sept 21: Strange Bedfellows -- truth and history

Reading: You will be divided into 4 groups for the reading of Jacoby. It will be your job in class to explain to the others the perspective of the events from your group's point of view. You must also read one other group's section of the book...but you may skim this! First section of reading due Sept 21st!

ALL = Read the Introduction AND pp 184-188 in Part 2

Group 1 = The O'odham pp. 13-49 and pp 191-203 (Ben, Alexa, Catherine)

Group 2 = Los Vecinos pp 49-95 and pp 203-220 (Laruen, Dora, Jacob)

Group 3 = The Americans pp 95-143 and pp 220-245 (James, Ruby)

Group 4 = The Nnee (Apache) pp. 143-181 and pp 245-273 (Haven, Wyatt)


Sept 24: Finish Shadows at Dawn

Choose another group to read. You may "skim" but you must have ample understanding of that group's experience of the massacre!

Prep for: ROUNDTABLE on The Camp Grant Massacre -- please answer these questions on a piece of paper that you will use as notes in the roundtable and turn in for credit

our goals: 1) Analyze and Evaluate Jacoby's use of sources (primary AND secondary) and discuss which groups' stories are the most believeable, explain why, and then critique your answers

2) Compare Camp Grant with Mountain Meadows

3) what does a book like Jacoby's do to our understanding of the intersections of truth and history?


Oct 5: ROUNDTABLE on Massacres and Memorials! And film intro to railroad

Read: Excerpt from a misplaced massacre (HANDOUT)

Read: Dr. Bagley's article on Mtn Meadows


Oct 7:

Prep for Comparative Massacre Essay

Oct 12:

REQUIRED -- First draft of Comparative Massacre Paper DUE


Rough Draft Completion Rubric

The Grandest Enterprise Under God film in class


Oct 19: Chpt 8-10, The Lessening Stream


Oct 21: Final Comparative Massacre Paper due in class WITH your rough draft and rubric! NO extensions will be given for this assignment!

Short Chinese Exclusion and Mexican immigration thru 1924 lecture and research time


Oct 23:

Mining Strike Research work day

Reading: Read your assigned strike and be ready to help Dr. Berry build a lecture in class! This means that you will know the most important information that you think students should know about the massacre AND have compelling photographs and sources to use during a riveting lecture!

Cripple Creek (Ruby and Jacob and Dora and Alexa):
(you may have to type "Cripple Creek" into the search box on this site...I can't get the link to work) History Matters:

A few pics From the Denver Public Library

LUDLOW -- (James and Haven and Wyatt):


History Matters ( you have to type Ludlow into the search box on this site)

University of Denver
good pictures: (general coal strike info)

BISBEE (Ben and Lauren and Catherine):

University of Arizona


Oct 26: Film -- Beyond Measure

Oct 28: Build a lecture -- Mining Strike

Nov 2: Finish Lecture

TIME: 20th Century - present through the prism of water

Nov 4: Santa Cruz until now

READ: The Lessening Stream 11-12


recall Owens Valley and Hetch Hetchy!


Nov 9: WWII and the20th Century/Atomic West

Military Indust comples/Atomic West -- Lecture on Colorado and Columbia Rivers

READ: "The Clan of the One-Breasted Woman" and "Dust or Erasing the Future: The Nevada Test Site" in the New West Reader

OPTIONAL rough draft of Wet Paper due

Nov 12: 20th Century Ag -- Imperial Valley and Salton Sea

READ: Imperial Valley article

The Wet Paper essay final due

Nov 16: 20th Century labor, the "melting pot", and the New West

Read the pros and cons of maquiladoras by reading these 2 sites:

The City of San Diego Economic Development

this site from a project at Mt. Holyoke

Also Watch NAFTA video (13 min) and

READ this article in the The Nation

AND this NYT article.


Nov 18: 20th Century Mining -- Copper Mining Bohemouth


Animas River Gold King Mine disaster 2015

Mining's Legacy

Nov 23: ROUNDTABLE on 20th Century West 2nd Essays on the West due

Possible current applications: ethnic studies, immigration, workers' rights

ALL of December: Inquiry Work....

final course requirement -- you must create a 1 min video (in your groups) that advertises Project: Inquiry to the TGS community (especially younger high school students and 8th graders) -- DUE Dec 7th




Reading: Wallace Stegnar, "Striking the Rock" in Major Problems, pp 398-406 HANDOUT


The Bonneville and Glen Canyon dams



Reading: John Wesley Powell and Rec. Act




: Thinking about Berkeley and the 60s as "Western" phenomena...

Watch Wounded Knee Video


Tourism and Migration -- Bellagio and Baby Boomers

READ: Abbey and Alexie New West Reader

Watch Wounded Knee Video


Week 10: Gangs in SLC

Reading: Major Problems

pp 274-278 LINKED HERE!


pp. 304-309 LINKED HERE


2012 Schoology page


Sept 25: Homesteading on the Frontier -- Women as "civilizing" -- Suffrage!

Reading: PDF on Women Homesteaders AND "Bordeaux v. Bordeaux"


Nov 15: Animals (buffalo), Minerals (gold and silver -- Tombstone), and Vegetables (agriculture on the Frontier)

READ: Dan Flores, "Bison Ecology" in Major Problems pp 103-117 (HANDOUT)

Roundtable 2-3 page essay: How did interethnic and cultural conflict change the Great Plains region and its wildlife? Is this a tragedy?

We will be using the following PBS Site to inform our in-class investigation of the building of the Transcontinental Railroad.


ALL PLAY: With this interactive Map -- what is important to note here?

ALL SKIM: The Timeline of the TCRR

ALL LOOK: at the Photo Gallery -- what is of interest in these photos?


As you learn, keep this essential question in mind: what netowrks were important to YOUR character as s/he experienced the building of the railroad?

-- you are historians who hope to interview participants in the building of the railroad for a historical museum you have been hired by the Smithsonian Institution to open in Washington DC to celebrate the accomplishment of America in the building of the modern marvel -- the transcontinental railroad.

you are CongressMEN who have been appointed by President Grant to ensure that the museum does the US justice but also tells an accurate story about the process of building the railraod. Congressmen and Historians please familarize yourself with the building of the railroad generally (including different groups' experiences)...please be sure to especially read the article on the Credit Mobilier scandal

Workers for the Central Pacific (NAMES), Workers for the Union Pacific (NAMES), Native Americans (NAMES)

Everyone else please familiarize yourself with the biography you are assigned below:

Oakes Ames (), Charles Crocker (), Thomas Durant (), Collis Huntington (), Leland Stanford (), Granville Dodge (),