1. Holden
    Offline

    Holden Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2010
    Messages:
    117
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    U.S.A.

    The Wild West

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Holden, Jul 14, 2011.

    Can anyone reccomend informative and useful books or websites pertaining to the "Wild West?" Specifically, I'm in need of how it grew and was established (from the 1830's to 1890's) as well as how life was like in individual towns.

    Any information is great. Thanks.
     
  2. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Have you started with google? There is a wealth of information to be found, by alternately broadening and narrowing your searches.
     
  3. Holden
    Offline

    Holden Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2010
    Messages:
    117
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    I've found some good information, but I was wondering if anyone knew of books or sites that contained all the information. :p I'd rather have one site to check to for information than ten different sources.
     
  4. Ellipse
    Offline

    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2010
    Messages:
    714
    Likes Received:
    32
    I can tell you that won't happen. There is a lot of different things that effected the Wild West. Everything from guns (a lot of people don't understand the difference or significance between a single and dual action pistol) to transportation impacted the way people lived their lives.

    Civilization did not really take hold until more women started going westward. Women were the mothers and teachers. They were the ones that brought civilization while the men were off playing cowboys and indians and shooting each other.
     
  5. Holden
    Offline

    Holden Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2010
    Messages:
    117
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    I have a specific question. How would important messages be sent long distances, say from the Texas area, to the East Coast? Would they use written letters, telegrams, etc? The time period is 1870's.
     
  6. Ellipse
    Offline

    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2010
    Messages:
    714
    Likes Received:
    32
    The electric telegraph would have been the fastest way. Bell didn't even have a patent for his telephone until the mid 1870s.
     
  7. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    if you want to be a writer, you'll have to learn to do your own research... and no, it won't be so easy that you can find one source with all the info you need... that's the hard work part of the job of being a writer...

    don't expect others to do it for you, when it's so easy to do with google...

    you should also read/study the works of:

    bret harte
    zane grey
    larry mc murtry

    ... and others who wrote accurately about the 'wild west'...
     
  8. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,778
    Likes Received:
    7,291
    Location:
    Scotland
    You're talking about my own period of research. While I have two bookcases full of specific research tomes (mostly centered on cowboy-era Kansas, Texas and Montana) I can recommend two for overview:

    The New Encyclopedia of the American West, edited by Howard R Lamar

    and

    Dictionary of the American West: 5000 Terms and Expressions from "a-going and a-coming" to Zuni, by Winfred Blevins

    I would also recommend David Dary's books. I have Red Blood and Black Ink (about journalism in the old west), Entrepreneurs of the Old West, and Seeking Pleasure in the Old West.

    I also made a lot of use of: Growing Up With the Country: childhood on the far western frontier, by Elliott West.

    If you're writing fiction, you might get some use out of: The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in the Wild West, by Candy Moulton. And also: The Writer's Guide ot Everyday Life in the 1800s, by Marc McCutcheon. Both are Writer's Digest books.

    Of course a LOT of stuff is online these days.

    If you have any specific queries about a particular topic or place within this genre, let me know. I might be able to recommend more specific sources, including a few primary sources which are incredibly entertaining as well as chock-full of authentic period details and information. I've got a danged big library! I started collecting it before so much good stuff was available online.

    Incidentally, the University Press sources from various western state universities are incredibly useful, too. As well as the various historical societies in the area. The Montana Historical Society is absolutely top-notch for information AND friendly, helpful people. However, you'll need to specify your research needs before they'll be able to help you much.
     
  9. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    and in the posts you've made in this section, you're talking to folks who are no longer active on the site, jannert...

    you can check to see whether starters of old threads like these are still around to get your advice, by clicking on their names and selecting 'view forum posts'... if their last one is years old, or their old posts don't even come up, they won't benefit from your posts...

    of course others here might get something useful from what you have to say, but you need to be aware that you're not reaching the people you seem to think you're talking to, in such cases...
     
  10. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,778
    Likes Received:
    7,291
    Location:
    Scotland
    Hi mammamaia. Thanks for being vigilant about current threads. However, I WAS aware this was an old thread when I made my post. I found it under 'research' as I was browsing the category to see if a question I need addressed has already been asked and answered. In the process, I ran across this thread, and thought it might be helpful to add to it, in case anyone else is researching the history of the American West and also looking for information.

    I feel this is a general informational thread, and a topic like the history of the American West doesn't necessarily age.

    Anyway ...no harm done?
     
  11. blackstar21595
    Offline

    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2013
    Messages:
    598
    Likes Received:
    34
    Location:
    Brooklyn,NY
    you can watch documentaries of the lifestyle on youtube.
     
  12. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,778
    Likes Received:
    7,291
    Location:
    Scotland
    Yeah. That's a wonderful resource I didn't have when I was doing my research, back in the late 90s. You inspired me to put "American West" into the search facility on YouTube, and I spent a couple of happy hours browsing through all that great stuff!

    One small niggle, though. Very little of the YouTube offerings are specific. The makers of each video have compiled LOTS of great old photos, and sometimes combined them with commentary, but often don't tell you where or when the photos were taken. Trust me, if you're writing historical fiction, you need to know these things.

    For example, some of those great photos of Dodge City, Then and Now will not suit all years. There were two great fires there in 1885, which destroyed most of the buildings on Front Street. So you'd need to know what year those photos were taken, in order to be accurate.

    Books still are a great resource, if you want detailed and accurate historical information. There is a lot online though, and any writer of historical fiction would be daft to ignore the YouTube, Google, etc—at least as starting points.
     
  13. TerraIncognita
    Offline

    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

    Joined:
    May 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,339
    Likes Received:
    40
    Location:
    Texas
    Google is your friend. ;)

    Research is a pain but it's part of writing. I would suggest printing out and organizing your research in a binder if you are a very visual person like me. I don't think there's any one book or website containing all of the information we could ever need on a given subject. I found it easier to print it out and highlight the most pertinent parts then put it in a binder with dividers. I made my own book that contained all the information I needed this way. :p
     
  14. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Except resurrecting long dead threads is pushing currently active threads down the obscurity ladder. It's generally considered to be impolite. The only exception is critique threads, for which the age is irrelevant. That's because the Writing Workshop is really a critiquing workshop, and the primary benefit is in the exercise of analyzing the piece of writing.

    Please don't resurrect long-dead discussion threads.
     

Share This Page