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History Subject Guide: HIST 3991: Frontier Settlement in the American West

A guide to key databases, reference & web sources, and research & citation guides for History

Course guide for HIST 3991: Frontier Settlement in the American West

Prepared by: Elizabeth Millar, History Subject Librarian, Mount Allison University | R.P. Bell Library Room 302 | 364-2386


This guide has been prepared to assist students taking HIST 3991 at Mount Allison University to find primary exploration, travel, or booster literature that was published in the United States in the nineteenth century.  A list of guides and other resources to aid in the preparation of the comparative analysis paper of which these resources are a component are also included.

Primary Travel Literature (Online)

The Making of America (University of Michigan):

The Basic Search allows you to search the full text of the database’s articles for the keyword(s) you enter, and also permits field-specific searching by author, citation, subject or title.

If you find the Basic Search returns too many results, try the Boolean Search, which will allow multiple search terms in addition to limiting keywords. Watch how you enter your keywords: the first two will be processed together, then the third one.  For example, a search for:

climate OR weather AND California

will first look for records with either of the first two terms, then select the ones which also have the third one.

Use the truncation symbol (*) to find variant word endings. For example, a search for: settl* will return results that have the words: settlement, settlements, settler, settlers, or settling in them.

To give you a sense of what publications are available, try entering a topic keywords, such as: land, agricultur*, climate, settl* in the “Find:” fields, and then in the first “Limit to” box enter a state or city name and change the field being searched from the default [author] to [title]. 

Given the time period of the course I recommend limiting the date range to end in 1900.

From the results list, click on “View first page” to begin reading the article.

The Making of America (Cornell University) hosted by the Hathi Trust Digital Library:;c=1930843488

Dr. Naylor has recommended Harper’s New Monthly Magazine as a good source of booster literature and travel articles. You can search volumes of this journal by clicking on Advanced Full-Text Search, entering Harper’s New Monthly Magazin” in the Title field, and your keywords in the next field(s). Use phrase and all-word searching where appropriate. For example:

[Title]  [This exact phrase]      Harper’s New Monthly Magazine

[Full-Text + All Fields]  [All of these words]     Nevada climate

From the list of results, click “Full View,” and then enter one of your subject search terms in the “Search in this text” box above the scan (e.g. Nevada). The results list will show the page number(s) and number of times your search term appears on each page of those pages.

Note: while scans of the journal are available, some are difficult to read. If you encounter such an image, you can submit a request to our Access Services department for us to send you a scan of our print copy. Their email address is:, and please include these details in your request:

Journal Title: Harper’s New Monthly Magazine

Call number: AP 2 .H3

Volume, issue number, and year of publication

The title of the article

The page-number range

The Internet Archive

Another option to access a legible copy of an article found in the Making of America Collection is to search for the required volume at the Internet Archive:  Click on Advanced Search, enter the year of publication in the “Any field” field, and “Harper’s New Monthly Magazine” in the title field (include the double quotation marks).  It is possible that the volume you need hasn’t been digitized and posted there yet, but the ease of access makes it worth the attempt.

Another way to search for Harper’s New Monthly Magazine articles in the Internet Archive is to enter a site-specific search in Google. For example:

“Harper’s New Monthly Magazine” Colorado mining

Note: If you first land on a “Full text of” page, click the “See Other Formats” link at the top of the full-text box to get to the Book Reader images of the book.

Library of Congress Digital Collections

Note: most of the publications identified in these collections are books rather than journal articles. For the purposes of your assignment, you do not need to read the entire work, but instead select a section or chapter (ca. 6-8 pages) that exemplifies ­booster literature.

California as I Saw It": First-Person Narratives of California's Early Years, 1849-1900:

With over 200 publications in this collection, you may find it useful to use the limit options in the left column to reduce the number that are displayed. Begin by setting the Date to: 1800-1899, and selecting a specific geographic Location, such as Southern California.

The Evolution of the Conservation Movement, 1850-1920:

A work of particular note in this collection is one by Samuel Bowles: Our new West. Records of travel between the Mississippi River and the Pacific Ocean. Over the plains--over the mountains--through the great interior basin--over the Sierra Nevadas--to and up and down the Pacific coast. With details of the wonderful natural scenery, agriculture, mines, business, social life, progress and prospects ... including a full description of the Pacific railroad; and of the life of the Mormons, Indians, and Chinese. With map, portraits, and twelve full page illustrations.,+Samuel,+1826-1878+))+@field(OTHER+@band(Bowles,+Samuel,+1826-1878+)))

It has many short chapters including “Colorado: Its Mountains and Parks”, “The Mines of Nevada”, and “Farming in California.”

Pioneering the Upper Midwest: Books from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, ca. 1820-1910:

With over 340 publications in this collection, you may find it useful to use the limit options in the left column to reduce the number that are displayed. Begin by setting the Date to: 1800-1899, and selecting a specific Subject, such as Description and Travel.

Other Online Primary Resources

The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition:

Turning Points in Wisconsin History:

Writing Comparative Essays

Print Guides

Note: while the library has resumed some operations this fall, the book stacks are still closed. If you would like to borrow a print book, please submit a request for it by logging into Novanet, opening the record for the desired book, and clicking “Place a Hold” / “Submit Request.” We’ll send you an email when it has been checked out to your account and is ready for you to pick up. The Library-to-Go shelves are just inside the front entrance, and the book will be wrapped in paper with your name on the spine. You do not need to pre-book a seat to access those shelves.

Heffernan, James A. W., and John E. Lincoln.  Writing: A College Handbook.  4th ed. New York: Norton, 1994.

            Mount Allison Call No: PE 1408 .H438 1994.  See especially pages 114-19.

Henderson, Eric.  The Active Reader: Strategies for Academic Reading and Writing.  Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press, 2008. 

Mount Allison Call No: PE 1408 .H465 2008.  See especially pages 100-1.

Kane, Thomas S., and Heather Pyrcz.  The Canadian Oxford Guide to Writing: A Rhetoric and Handbook. 2nd ed.  Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press, 2008. 

Mount Allison Call No: PE 1408 .K29 2008.  See especially pages 256-62.

May, Carole Anne.  Spotlight on Critical Skills in Essay Writing.  Toronto: Pearson, 2010. 

Mount Allison Call No: PE 1471 .M39 2010.  See especially pages 220-24.

Rosenwasser, David, and Jill Stephen.  Writing Analytically.  5th ed.  Boston: Wadsworth, 2009.

            Mount Allison Call No: PE 1408 .R69 2009.  See especially pages 100-102, 172.

Online Guides

Proctor, Margaret.  “The Book Review or Article Critique.” Toronto: Writing Support, University of Toronto, n.d.

Walk, Kerry.  “How to Write a Comparative Analysis.”  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Writing Center, 1998.


Dr. Naylor has asked you to use The Chicago Manual of Style 17th edition to format your footnotes and bibliography.  Instructions and examples are in Chapter 14, “Documentation I: Notes and Bibliography.”  There is a link to the online edition of the manual on the Mount Allison Libraries’ “Research Help: Chicago Style Guides” web page here:

Questions? Ask a Librarian.

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Elizabeth Millar
Room 302
Ralph Pickard Bell Library
49 York St.
Sackville, NB E4L 1C6