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 Thomas Loraine McKenney, 
Sketches of a Tour to the Lakes

While explorers had traveled into the interior of the continent as early as the seventeenth century, the population didn't begin to move westward until the middle of the eighteenth century. The first settlements were across the Allegheny Mountains into Kentucky and Tennessee. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Northwest Territory and Great Lakes regions were becoming settled.


Ezekiel Holmes
Report of an Exploration and Survey of the Territory on the Aroostook River, during the Spring and Autumn of 1838. Augusta [Maine]: Smith & Robinson, Printers to the State, 1839.

Holmes was sent by the Maine Board of Internal Improvements to explore and survey the Aroostook River to determine the suitability for settlement. The Report discusses the rivers, lakes, climate, soil, agriculture, geology, and roads of the territory, and contains comments on the lack of "schools and religious privileges" of the region.

Gift in Memory of Dr. H. Clay Reed


Alexander Scott Withers, 1792-1865.
Chronicles of Border Warfare, or, A History of the Settlement by the Whites, of north-western Virginia: and of the Indian wars and massacres, in that section of the state; with reflections, anecdotes, &c. Clarksburg, Va.: J. Israel, 1831.

This collection of stories of frontier life and Indian warfare was published for local readers in an area far from the publishing centers of the East. The gory tales of massacres and captives were considered to be authentic depictions of the hardships faced by early settlers.

Gift of Joseph Y. Jeanes, Jr.

Album of Central Vermont R.R. Scenery


Album of Central Vermont R.R. Scenery. [Portland, Me.: Chisholm Bros. circa 1890].

This viewbook of late-nineteenth century Vermont, shows both the bustling towns with their factories and amusement parks and the almost untouched higher mountain areas.


Histoire de la conqueste de la Floride, par les espagnols, sous Ferdinand de Soto. Paris: chez D. Thierry, 1685.

Originally published in 1557, Histoire de la conqueste de la Floride is the primary source for information on the De Soto expedition of 1539-43 which was the first European foray into the southeastern United States. De Soto landed on the west coast of Florida and traveled north through Georgia and west to Mobile Bay. The expedition crossed the Mississippi and may have gone as far west as the present Oklahoma-Arkansas border.


John Filson, ca. 1747-1788.
The Discovery, Settlement and present State of Kentucke: and An Essay towards the Topography and Natural History of that important Country... Wilmington [Del.]: Printed by James Adams, 1784.

One of the greatest books of the early frontier, The Discovery, Settlement and present State of Kentucke is notable for several reasons. Filson, who arrived in Kentucky in 1783, was the first historian and geographer of Kentucky. The map which accompanied the book was the first printed map of the State. The book also contains the first account of Daniel Boone's career on the frontier, which Boone dictated to Filson. The work was published in Wilmington by James Adams, Delaware's first printer.

Gift of H. Fletcher Brown


James Gray Smith, 1797-1875.
A Brief Historical, Statistical, and Descriptive Review of East Tennessee, United States of America: developing its immense agricultural, mining, and manufacturing advantages: with remarks to emigrants: accompanied with a map & lithographed sketch of a Tennessee farm, mansion house, and buildings. London: J. Leath, 1842.

It appears that the book was issued to promote the sale of 179 farms in East Tennessee by the East Tennessee Land Company. Smith includes numerous statistics, lists of occupations that would insure ready employment, and gives advice to prospective emigrants.


Thaddeus Mason Harris, 1768-1842.
The Journal of a Tour into the Territory Northwest of the Alleghany Mountains; made in the spring of the year 1803. With a geographical and historical account of the state of Ohio. Boston: Printed by Manning & Loring, 1805.

The earliest separate historical account of Ohio, The Journal also includes the first large map of the state. Among the sights Harris notes in his journal is the "Senaca Indian Oil" which "oozes through fissures of the rocks and coal in the mountains" and is used as a medicine for "chilblains and rheumatism." This is one of the earliest references to the petroleum deposits near Pittsburgh.


Louis Hennepin, 17th cent.
Description de la Louisiane, nouvellement découverte au sud'ouest de la Nouvelle France. Paris: A. Auroy, 1688.

Father Hennepin, a missionary and explorer, accompanied de la Salle on his 1678-79 expedition from Fort Frontenac to Niagrara, then through the Illinois country. He continued on his own to the Mississippi River near what is now Minneapolis, where he was captured by the Sioux. The book records the first use of the name "Louisiana," the first accurate account of the Illinois country and upper Mississippi, the first detailed account of the Sioux, and the first navigation of the Great Lakes.

Rebecca Burlend, 
A True Picture of Emigration


Rebecca Burlend, 1793-1872.
A True Picture of Emigration; or, Fourteen years in the interior of North America; being a full and impartial account of the various difficulties and ultimate success of an English family who emigrated from Barwick-in-Elmet, near Leeds, in the year 1831. London, G. Berger [1848].

A rare description, from a woman's point of view, of pioneer life in the midwest. The family emigrated from a village in the English countryside to a farm in Pike County, Illinois. The book is a detailed description of everyday life, with great hardships and eventual rewards.


Henry William Ellsworth, 1814-1864.
Valley of the Upper Wabash, Indiana, with hints on its agricultural advantages: plan of a dwelling, estimates of cultivation, and notices of labor-saving machines. New York: Pratt, Robinson, 1838.

This pioneering work on the upper midwestern prairie was produced to attract farmers to the region. In addition to detailed information on crops and resources, it also includes illustrations of farm machinery and a perspective and design for a country house.

 Thomas Loraine McKenney, 
Sketches of a Tour to the Lakes


Thomas Loraine McKenney, 1785-1859.
Sketches of a Tour to the Lakes, of the Character and Customs of the Chippeway Indians, and of Incidents connected with the Treaty of Fond du Lac. By Thomas L. McKenney ... Also, a vocabulary of the Algic, or Chippeway language, formed in part, and as far as it goes, upon the basis of one furnished by ... Albert Gallatin ... Baltimore: F. Lucas, jun'r., 1827.

McKenney was appointed superintendent of the Indian trade by President Madison in 1816 and later was the first Superintendent of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In 1827 he negotiated a treaty with the Chippewa, Menominee, and Winnebago tribes and later helped influence the Chickawaw and Creeks to agree to migrate west of the Mississippi. Although he was instrumental in obtaining funds for Indian education, he was actually a strong proponent of forcing the tribes to move westward so that their land could be taken by the settlers.

Gift in Memory of Albert N. Raub,
President of Delaware College 1888-1896


Jonathan Carver, 1710-1780.
Travels through the Interior Parts of North America, in the years 1766, 1767, and 1768. London: C. Dilly [etc.], 1781.

Jonathan Carver traveled further west than any British explorer before the Revolution. He was seeking a transcontinental waterway, but mainly explored tributaries of the Mississippi. He influenced later explorers including Lewis and Clark as he described, often for the first time, the areas of Minnesota, Lakes Michigan and Superior, and the Dakotas.

Gift of Joseph Y. Jeanes, Jr.

American Cotton Planter and the Soil of the South


American Cotton Planter and the Soil of the South. Montgomery, Ala., 1857.

American Cotton Planter is typical of horticultural magazines in the antebellum period, aimed at the plantation owner in the rural Southern slave-based economy. While most of the articles present factual farming information, this issue also contains a strongly-worded article against buying any items from the North.


Philip Pittman.
The Present State of the European Settlements on the Mississippi; with a Geographical Description of that River. London: Printed for J. Nourse, 1770.

The Present State of the European Settlements was the first book in English to describe the French towns from New Orleans to St. Louis. Pittman, who spent several years as a British army officer in the region, explored the area on the east side of the Mississippi around present day Natchez. The area, which had been settled by the French, was the site of an Indian massacre in 1729. Pittman's description of the situation was quite sympathetic to the native peoples who in his words were "oppressed" by the French.

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