American Memory, Library of Congress. Prairie Settlement: Nebraska Photographs and Family Letters. Accessed April 13, 2012.

Osher Map Library, Smith Center for Cartographic Education, University of South Maine. "Mapping the Republic." Accessed April 13, 2012.

Smithsonian American Art Museum. Accessed April 13, 2012.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Lakota Winter Counts. Accessed April 13, 2012.

Westward Expansion: Image vs. Reality


The story of westward expansion is central to 19th-century U.S. history, but the way it is told has varied. Newspaper reports, pamphlets, and images published in the eastern U.S. during the mid-19th century often emphasized the bountiful resources, tranquility, and comfort of the West, obscuring the harsh conditions that settlers often faced. In addition, eastern U.S. stereotypes of American Indians as "savages" doomed by the advance of "civilization" often worked to justify expansion and obscure the complexity of American Indian lives and livelihoods.

Examine the sources and decide whether they were created in the eastern or the western U.S.