Explorers of the American West
Mapping the World through Primary Documents
by Jay H. Buckley and Jeffery D. Nokes
March 2016, 321pp, 8 1/2x11
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-61069-731-6
$110, £82, 92€, A158
eBook Available: 978-1-61069-732-3
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

The first explorers to set out for the West depended on their own skills for survival.

With original primary source documents, this anthology brings readers into the vast unknown 19th-century American West—through the eyes of the explorers who saw it for the first time.

This volume brings together book excerpts, maps, and illustrations from 12 explorers from the 19th century, highlighting their lives and contributions. Arranged chronologically, the 10 chapters focus on individual explorers, with biographies and background information about and document excerpts from each person. The chapters offer analyses of each document’s relevance to the historical period, geographic knowledge, and cultural perspective.

This guide shares the important contributions from explorers like Lewis and Clark, Zebulon Pike, Jedediah Smith, James P. Beckwourth, John C. Fremont, Susan Magoffin, and John Wesley Powell. It also nurtures readers’ historical literacy by modeling historians’ methods of analyzing primary sources. Readers will see new and familiar events from different perspectives, including that of a woman traveling along the Santa Fe Trail, one of the most famous African American mountain men, and a Civil War veteran, among many others.


  • Collects primary source materials such as journal entries, book excerpts, and maps from various 19th-century American explorers, enabling readers to "discover" the vast unknown American West, as seen for the first time by those of European descent
  • Includes a topical guide to aid readers in cross-referencing entries
  • Presents illustrations and photographs as well as original textual documents and maps
Jay H. Buckley, PhD, is associate professor of history at Brigham Young University, Provo, UT. His published works include William Clark: Indian Diplomat; By His Own Hand? The Mysterious Death of Meriwether Lewis; Orem; and Zebulon Pike, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West. He holds a doctorate in history from the University of Nebraska.

Jeffery D. Nokes, PhD, is associate professor of history at Brigham Young University, Provo, UT. His published works include Building Students' Historical Literacies: Learning to Read and Reason with Historical Texts and Evidence and (Re)imagining Content-Area Literacy Instruction. He holds a doctorate in teaching and learning from the University of Utah.


Top Community College Resource, November 2016—Choice, November 29, 2016

"Altogether, Explorers of the American West is a user-friendly collection of documentation that shares the experience of the explorer or traveler in the westward expansion in the 19th-century United States. The primary sources are engaging and bring the reader in to the experience. Sourcing information is well organized and clear. This collection of written documentation and analysis will be extremely useful for scholars, researchers, and historians seeking primary source information on United States westward exploration. Highly recommended."—ARBA, August 31, 2016

"Although excerpts and full-text transcripts of many of these documents can be found online, the inclusion of all of them in a single volume with accompanying analysis and imagery make this resource particularly useful for students of the American West, the doctrine of Manifest Destiny, and the exploration of North America. Summing Up: Recommended. High school through undergraduate students; general readers."—Choice, November 1, 2016
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