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M. Bossu,
 Nouveaux voyages aux Indes Occidentales

The Louisiana Purchase of 1803 opened up vast areas of the Great Plains for the growing country. Anxious for settlers, the territories offered virtually free land to families willing to farm the land. The native peoples were pushed further westward and restricted to smaller and smaller territories in order to open up the farm and ranch lands to the settlers.


H. W. Hamilton.
Rural Sketches of Minnesota, the El Dorado of the Northwest: containing full descriptions of the country, its productions, villages, state of society, &c.: together with a series of letters upon northern Wisconsin, its appearance, improvements, &c.: with a table of distances. Milan, Ohio: C. Waggoner, 1850.

An early promotional work to attract settlers to Minnesota and Wisconsin, Rural Sketches is written in the form of a series of letters reporting on the places visited during a journey from Chicago to Galena, the Illinois prairies, Prairie du Chien, Dubuque, Fort Snelling and Mendota.


John Plumbe, 1809-1857.
Sketches of Iowa and Wisconsin, taken during a residence of Three Years in those Territories. St. Louis: Chambers, Harris & Knapp, 1839.

Sketches of Iowa and Wisconsin was the first book printed west of the Mississippi to discuss and recommend a national railroad to the Pacific Coast. Plumbe was a strong advocate of the railroad, even traveling through the West looking for possible routes. Unfortunately, the railroad was not to cross the continent for another thirty years.

Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, 
A View of the Lead Mines of Missouri


Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, 1793-1864.
A View of the Lead Mines of Missouri: including some observations on the mineralogy, geology, geography, antiquities, soil, climate, population, and productions of Missouri and Arkansaw, and other sections of the western country: Accompanied by three engravings. New York: C. Wiley & Co., 1819.

In 1817, at the age of twenty four, Schoolcraft took part in a geological expedition to the lead mines of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas. A View of the Lead Mines is the first detailed description by a trained scientist in the Ozarks, an area which was effectively beyond the frontier. Schoolcraft went on to become the superintendent of Indian affairs for Michigan and to compile a major census of the Indian tribes for the federal government.


M. Bossu, 1720-1792.
Nouveaux voyages aux Indes Occidentales; contenant une relation des differens peuples qui habitent les environs du grand fleuve Saint-Louis, appellé vulgairement le Mississipi; leur religion; leur gouvernement; leurs moeurs; leurs guerres & leur commerce. Paris: Le Jay, 1768.

Bossu went to Louisiana in 1750 as a captain in the French marines. The narrative is made up of a series of twenty-one letters describing his life and travels in the Louisiana country from 1751 to 1762. His journey took him from Fort Chartres, in present Illinois, to Mobile, and along the Mississippi River. He visited New Orleans only thirty years after it was founded and was able to gather recollections from those who had lived through the early years of settlement.


Thomas Nuttall, 1786-1859.
A Journal of Travels into the Arkansa Territory, during the year 1819. With occasional observations of the manners of the aborigines. Philadelphia: T.H. Palmer, 1821.

One of the most important early travel narratives of the area which now includes Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, and Oklahoma. The Journal includes material on the Chickasaw, Cherokee, and Osage Indian tribes, as well as a botanical history of the region.

The Oklahoma Book


The Oklahoma Book: Extracts from the Official Report of Gov. T.B. Ferguson to the Secretary of the Interior: Showing the Marvelous Growth of Oklahoma, the Youngest child of the Louisiana Purchase. Guthrie, Okla.: State Capital Co. [1903].

In a campaign to have Oklahoma enter the Union, the Governor's office compiled this history and description of the Territory's history and accomplishments. The Report states: "Oklahoma is entitled to statehood--entitled to it now. There are in the Territory 650,000 intelligent American citizens who are deprived of the right of self-government....Oklahoma has the intellect, the wealth, the moral force, the energy, the natural resources, the development already achieved, and the promise of a splendid future sufficient to justly entitle her to careful consideration and Congressional action. No logical reason can be urged against her early admission into the sisterhood of States."


Emigrants' Guide to Pike's Peak. Leavenworth City, K[ansas] T[erritory]: L. J. Eastin, 1859.

Emigrants' Guide was an advertising promotion for Leavenworth City, published by the Kansas Weekly Herald, the local newspaper. Aimed primarily at the gold prospector, it includes a map of the gold mines, descriptions of the country, and details and cost of a miner's outfit. Although at least 20,000 copies were reportedly produced, this is one of only two known copies.

Patrick Donan, The Land of Golden Grain


Patrick Donan. The Land of Golden Grain, North Dakota: the lake-gemmed, breeze- swept empire of the new Northwest: homes for the homeless. Chicago, Ill.: C.R. Brodix, 1883.

A promotional pamphlet for the purpose of attracting farmers to the vast open spaces of North Dakota, the area is described as "a land of free homes for the poor, and of glorious bonanzas for the rich; a land of peace, plenty and prosperity, without equal on earth; a land of swift and magnificent growth in the present, and of infinite and resplendent possibilities in the wondertime soon to come."


E. (Edmond), Baron de Mandat-Grancey, 1842-1911.
Dans les Montagnes Rocheuses. Paris: E. Plon, Nourrit, 1884.

A French nobleman, Mandat-Grancey visited the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1883. His romanticized portrayal of cowboys and ranching was published at a time when Europeans were interested in investing in American ranches.

Northwestern Nebraska and Southwestern So. Dakota


Northwestern Nebraska and Southwestern So. Dakota: A Western Canaan. Chicago: Poole Bros. [1892].

The stated goal of this publicity brochure was "to endeavor to attract to that portion of the great, money and enterprise." One hundred and sixty acres were available free from the government to any citizen who cultivated the land for five years. The brochure speaks in glowing terms of the "perfect climate," "intelligent, industrious and enterprising" people, and towns with "the spirit of push." In actuality, life on the Nebraska prairie was harsh and lonely.


Wyoming (Territory). Board of Immigration. The Territory of Wyoming; its history, soil, climate, resources, etc. Laramie: Daily Sentinel Print, 1874.

The first book printed in Laramie, Wyoming, The Territory of Wyoming was written only five years after the Territory was organized. It was written to attract settlers to an area which was still mainly unexplored. It includes detailed information about cattle and sheep ranching including costs of starting a ranch and projected profits.

Charles Harrington, 
Summering in Colorado


Charles Harrington.
Summering in Colorado. Denver: Richards & Co., 1874.

This entertaining account of life in Colorado, with sketches of the routes, mountaineering, the gold rush, and a stay among the Utes, was a very early promotional piece for vacation travel in the western territories. It is illustrated with original photographs of views in and around Denver.


Alfred Edward Mathews, 1831-1874.
Pencil Sketches of Montana. New York: Pub. by the author, 1868.

The full-page views in this very rare work are among the only authentic records of Montana during the first days of its settlement. They were made on location by the author, who also drew them on the lithographic stone. The images, which include Virginia City, Helena, Fort Benton, and Great Falls, are mainly of southwest Montana, near Yellowstone, which was the first area of the state to be settled and mined.

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