Frontier and Western History
As noted in the Introduction and demonstrated by the chapters that follow it, both frontier and Western history have moved far beyond their pioneer, cowboy, and Indian stereotypes. Today scholars in these fields are exploring issues in economic and social history and have widened their views to embrace new theories and techniques. Interdisciplinary approaches, quantification, and comparative history now join the more traditional historical methods and questions being considered.
Many sources are open to scholars who deal both with these new and with the more established topics. Usually, even for those pursuing eighteenth- and nineteenth-century questions, primary materials abound and are available in most parts of the country. Sources for colonial and early national era frontiers may be found chiefly in the East and Midwest. Holdings of state and local historical societies and of private libraries contain much of value. Organizations such as the American Antiquarian Society and the American Philosophical Society operate libraries with substantial collections. For Indian affairs and natural science topics, the Smithsonian Institution has much to offer. States such as Maryland, Virginia, both the Carolinas, and Georgia have major repositories, usually state operated, which include manuscripts, archival material, and printed items for colonial and Eastern frontiers. Farther west, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Missouri have historical societies that hold large and diversified collections for frontier scholars. Over the years, these and other historical agencies have published collections of documents and state or regional historical journals that include a wealth of primary items and that give an indication of trends in current local and regional scholarship. Publications such as the Wisconsin Historical Collections and the Missouri Historical Review are examples of such materials.
The federal government gathered a host of records following Independence, and these materials are housed in the National Archives in Washington or in one