History Archive Icon

History Archive

Wild West

Collections > Regions > Wild West Collection

Wild West Collection

History Archive - Wild West Collection

The Wild West or the American Frontier was one of the most iconic and culturally significant periods of American history. From the deserts to the mountains to the plains, the lawless nature of the region along with the archetypal cowboys, Indians and outlaws has spawned countless movies, videogames and books and despite its brevity is still celebrated today.

This brief period in history occurred after the end of the Civil War in 1865 until around 1895 when the fledgling United States rapidly developed across the entire continent. According to one John L. O'Sullivan the goal was to;

"overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions".

While there was some settlement out West prior to the Civil War with groups such as gold miners, the Mormons and others, American governmental jurisdiction did not really extend there and most of these places were not even states yet. These vast unexplored territories included Colorado, Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, and California.

The lawless nature of the region provided a prime attraction for criminals fleeing the authorities in the United States to the East and as the crimes mounted the government was forced to respond by sending law enforcement to the region forming police organizations that exist to this day including the United States Marshalls. However, the American West was also home to many other law-abiding immigrant nationalities including Germans, Irish, Italians, Swedes, Norwegians, Finns, Chinese, Russians, and Slovakians who were seeking new opportunities in the vast untamed lands.

All of this made for prime movie and print material which started to be produced right after the period had ended in the early 20th century. The actor Bronco Billy Anderson is usually credited as the first cowboy icon. His 1903 silent black-and-white film The Great Train Robbery set the pattern for Western movies to come. Later icons would include people like John Wayne and more.

References:

United States Magazine and Democratic Review (July-August 1845)

Regional Sub-Divisions

Available Books

Related Images

Image Name
Tertiary History of the Grand Canon [Atlas] - Panorama from Point Sublime. [Part I. Looking East.] (1882)
Drawings by Frederic Remington - A Mountain Lion Hunting (1897)
Pencil Sketches of Montana - (1868)
North American Indians Vol. 1 - Fig. 17 (1926)
Gems of Rocky Mountain Scenery - (1869)
North American Indians Vol. 1 - Fig. 55 (1926)
North American Indians Vol. 2 - Fig. 212 (1926)
North American Indians Vol. 1 - Fig. 65 (1926)
North American Indians Vol. 2 - Fig. 197 (1926)
North American Indians Vol. 1 - Fig. 22 (1926)
North American Indians Vol. 2 - Fig. 244 (1926)
Pencil Sketches of Montana - Title Page (1868)
North American Indians Vol. 2 - Fig. 143 (1926)
North American Indians Vol. 1 - Fig. 108 (1926)
Drawings by Frederic Remington - A Running Bucker (1897)
The Wonders of Geyserland - Riverside Geyser, Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone Park (1913)
North American Indians Vol. 2 - Fig. 165 (1926)
Voyage Pittoresque dans les Grands Deserts du Nouveau Monde - Ancienne Poterie (1862)
Voyage Pittoresque dans les Grands Deserts du Nouveau Monde - Book Display IV (1862)
Drawings by Frederic Remington - Satisfying the Demands of Justice - The Head (1897)
Drawings by Frederic Remington - Government Scouts - Moonlight (1897)
The Great Southwest - Arizona Afterglow, After Painting by Fernand Lungren (1919)
North American Indians Vol. 2 - Fig. 296 (1926)
Pencil Sketches of Montana - (1868)
North American Indians Vol. 2 - Fig. 235 (1926)
Pencil Sketches of Colorado - Mount Lincoln. The town of Montgomery is seen at its base (1866)
North American Indians Vol. 2 - Fig. 184 (1926)
Prince Izon; a Romance of the Grand Canyon - Title Page (1910)
North American Indians Vol. 2 - Fig. 249 (1926)
Drawings by Frederic Remington - Cavalry Column Out of Forage (1897)
North American Indians Vol. 2 - Fig. 205 (1926)
North American Indians Vol. 1 - Fig. 96 (1926)
North American Indians Vol. 2 - Fig. 240 (1926)
Pencil Sketches of Montana - (1868)
North American Indians Vol. 1 - Fig. 53 (1926)
Mountains and Molehills - A Fireman's Funeral (1855)
North American Indians Vol. 2 - Fig. 239 (1926)
North American Indians Vol. 2 - United States Indian Frontier in 1840 (1926)
Heroes of the Plains - California Joe at the Stake (1881)
Drawings by Frederic Remington - Fox Terriers Fighting a Badger (1897)
Pencil Sketches of Colorado - Snowy Range of the Rocky Mountains; From Bald Mountain, Near Nevada (1866)
Tertiary History of the Grand Canon [Atlas] - The Transept, Kaibab Division, Grand Canon (1882)
Report of the Exploring Expedition from Santa Fe - Carboniferous and Cretaceous Fossils (V) (1876)
North American Indians Vol. 1 - Fig. 58 (1926)
Journey from the Mississippi Vol. 1 - Indian's Drawings II (1858)
Voyage Pittoresque dans les Grands Deserts du Nouveau Monde - Iroquois (1862)
The Wonders of Geyserland - Grotto Geyser Formation, Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone Park (1913)
Pencil Sketches of Montana - (1868)
North American Indians Vol. 1 - Fig. 85 (1926)
Drawings by Frederic Remington - Mexican Vaqueros Breaking a Broke (1897)
North American Indians Vol. 2 - Fig. 260 (1926)
Voyage Pittoresque dans les Grands Deserts du Nouveau Monde - Tours Basaltiques (1862)
Report of the Exploring Expedition from Santa Fe - The Pagosa, S.W. Colorado, San Juan Exped (1876)
North American Indians Vol. 2 - Fig. 121 (1926)
Catlin's Indian Portfolio - Dying Buffalo Bull in a Snow Drift (1844)
North American Indians Vol. 2 - Fig. 238 (1926)
Three Wonderlands of the American West - Tolete Gorge, Colorado (1912)
North American Indians Vol. 1 - Fig. 31 (1926)
North American Indians Vol. 1 - Fig. 44 (1926)
The Great Southwest - Elle of Ganado-Indian Building, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Most famous weaver among the Navajo. (1919)
Sketches in North America and the Oregon Territory - Fort Carry (1848)
Tertiary History of the Grand Canon [Atlas] - Geologic Map Of The Colorado Plateau And San Francisco Mountains (1882)
Utah, the Land of Blossoming Valleys - The Augusta or Shipapu Colossal Natural Bridge (1922)
North American Indians Vol. 2 - Fig. 231 (1926)
North American Indians Vol. 2 - Fig. 304 (1926)
North American Indians Vol. 1 - Fig. 68 (1926)
North American Indians Vol. 2 - Fig. 241 (1926)
Heroes of the Plains - Book Display II (1881)
Catlin's Indian Portfolio - Buffalo Hunt Chase II (1844)
Three Wonderlands of the American West - Front Cover (1912)
North American Indians Vol. 2 - A Chart Shewing the Moves of the Mandan and the Place of Their Extinction (1926)
Drawings by Frederic Remington - The Well in the Desert (1897)
Pencil Sketches of Montana - (1868)
North American Indians Vol. 1 - Fig. 38 (1926)
North American Indians Vol. 1 - Fig. 21 (1926)
Journey from the Mississippi Vol. 1 - Display (1858)
North American Indians Vol. 2 - Fig. 198 (1926)
North American Indians Vol. 2 - Fig. 130 (1926)
Pencil Sketches of Colorado - Pike's Peak and Colorado City (1866)
North American Indians Vol. 2 - Fig. 233 (1926)
North American Indians Vol. 2 - Fig. 127 (1926)
North American Indians Vol. 2 - Fig. 203 (1926)
Drawings by Frederic Remington - The Indian Soldier (1897)
North American Indians Vol. 1 - Back Cover (1926)
North American Indians Vol. 1 - Fig. 18 (1926)
North American Indians Vol. 2 - Fig. 282 (1926)
The Black Hills - East and West Section, Black Hills (1876)
Mountains and Molehills - The Winter of 1849 (1855)
North American Indians Vol. 2 - Fig. 180 (1926)
North American Indians Vol. 2 - Fig. 280 (1926)
Drawings by Frederic Remington - A Modern Cavalry Camp (1897)
Pencil Sketches of Montana - (1868)
Heroes of the Plains - Buffalo Bill in Close Quarters (1881)
Illustrated Notes of an Expedition through Mexico and California - Fourth of July Camp (1852)
Gems of Rocky Mountain Scenery - (1869)
Tertiary History of the Grand Canon [Atlas] - Geologic Map Of The Mesozoic Terraces Of The Grand Canon District (1882)
Tertiary History of the Grand Canon [Atlas] - The Temples and Towers of the Virgen (1882)
Catlin's Indian Portfolio - Archery of the Mandans (1844)
Gems of Rocky Mountain Scenery - (1869)
Report of the Exploring Expedition from Santa Fe - Lower San Juan, Looking West from Near Camp 35 (1876)

Related Maps

Map Name
North American Indians Vol. 1 - Outline Map of the Indian Localities in 1833 (1926)
North American Indians Vol. 2 - United States Indian Frontier in 1840 (1926)
North American Indians Vol. 2 - A Chart Shewing the Moves of the Mandan and the Place of Their Extinction (1926)
Tertiary History of the Grand Canon [Atlas] - Geological Map of the Western Part of Plateau Province (1882)
Tertiary History of the Grand Canon [Atlas] - Sketch Map ... showing the Faults of the Grand Canon District. (1882)
Tertiary History of the Grand Canon [Atlas] - Map of the Uinkaret Plateau [North Half] (1882)
Tertiary History of the Grand Canon [Atlas] - Map of the Uinkaret Plateau [South Half] (1882)
Tertiary History of the Grand Canon [Atlas] - Map of the Uinkaret Plateau [Composite] (1882)
Tertiary History of the Grand Canon [Atlas] - Geologic Map of the Southern Part of the Kaibab Plateau. [Part I. North-Western Sheet] (1882)
Tertiary History of the Grand Canon [Atlas] - Geologic Map of the Southern Part of the Kaibab Plateau. [Part II. North-Eastern Sheet] (1882)
Tertiary History of the Grand Canon [Atlas] - Geologic Map of the Southern Part of the Kaibab Plateau. [Part III. South-Western Sheet] (1882)
Tertiary History of the Grand Canon [Atlas] - Geologic Map of the Southern Part of the Kaibab Plateau. [Part IV. South-Eastern Sheet] (1882)
Tertiary History of the Grand Canon [Atlas] - Geologic Map of the Southern Part of the Kaibab Plateau [Composite] (1882)
Tertiary History of the Grand Canon [Atlas] - Geologic Map Showing the South-Western Portion of the Mesozoic Terraces (1882)
Tertiary History of the Grand Canon [Atlas] - Geologic Map of the Mesozoic Terraces of the Grand Canon District (1882)
Tertiary History of the Grand Canon [Atlas] - Geologic Map Showing the Kanab, Paria and Marble Canon Platforms (1882)
Tertiary History of the Grand Canon [Atlas] - Geologic Map of the Colorado Plateau and San Francisco Mountains (1882)
Tertiary History of the Grand Canon [Atlas] - Geologic map sheets XX-XXIII [Composite] (1882)
Report of the Exploring Expedition from Santa Fe - Map of Exploration and Surveys in New Mexico and Utah (1876)
Map of the United States and Yerritories - Map of the United States and Territories (1868)
California: Its Past History; Its Present Position; Its Future Prospects - Map of Western North America (1850)

Regions

View All Regions