In American history, the time period know as the Old West is the time between the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and the last continental state, Arizona, being added to the Union in 1912 (two states were added later, Hawaii and Alaska). People living during this time period are well known for populating the land west of the Mississippi. Stories from this time period often recount the legendary deeds of explorers, trappers, and mountain men. One of those people is William Frederick Cody, better known as Buffalo Bill. Buffalo Bill is one of the most well-known larger-than-life figures of the American West. He served for the Union during the Civil War, was a scout for the US Army, received the Medal of Honor in 1872, performed in shows depicting life on the frontier and founded Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.
By reading about an event from the perspective of different people, you can get a more well-rounded idea of what that event or time period was really like. You can do the same thing by reading books that tell you about the different people, customs and events of a certain time period. Listed below are books, websites & databases that will help you learn about pioneering and the Old West.
To give you a start looking at what life was like in the American West, here is a Conestoga Wagon , an Artifact at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis . “Hundreds of years ago, travelers depended on wagons and carriages just as we depend on our cars today. Made in Pennsylvania about 1803, this wagon hauled farm produce or machinery. As pioneers moved west, families used wagons like this one to move all of their family belongings and tools west of the Appalachian Mountains.:
More Pioneer Artifacts at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis .
Websites, Activities & Printables:
- California’s Untold Stories – Gold Rush! 
- Driving the Last Spike 
- Pony Express National Historic Trail 
- The Homestead National Monument of America 
- Library of Congress: The Homestead Act 
- Library of Congress: Women Pioneers in American History 
- IndyPL Kids Blog: Black History – Pioneers, Cowboys & the West 
U.S. History in Context: Homesteading  & the Oregon Trail  – A database you can use in any IndyPL Library Branch or at home. Login using your IndyPL library card number. It will show you biographies, magazines, videos and more about the American West, pioneers and the frontier.
NoveList K-8: Stories about Pioneers and the American West  is a database you can use in any IndyPL Library Branch or at home. Login using your IndyPL library card number. Novelist will show you fiction chapter books and picture books you can read set in the time of the American West. “Check the Library Catalog” to see if IndyPL has the book.
Indiana Books & Websites:
- The Society of Indiana Pioneers 
- Conner Prairie History Park 
- GoogleBook: Pioneer History of Indiana : including stories, incidents, and customs of the early settlers
- Lanier Mansion , Madison Indiana
- Wabash Valley Visions and Voices : a Digital Memory Project