The World of the American West
A Daily Life Encyclopedia [2 volumes]
by Gordon Morris Bakken, Editor
December 2016, 943pp, 7x10
2 volumes, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-2859-1
$220, £170, 192€, A302
Please contact your preferred distributor for pricing.
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-2860-7
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How accurate are our notions about the Old West based on Hollywood depictions?

Addressing everything from the details of everyday life to recreation and warfare, this two-volume work examines the social, political, intellectual, and material culture of the American 'Old West,' from the California Gold Rush of 1849 to the end of the 19th century.

What was life really like for ordinary people in the Old West? What did they eat, wear, and think? How did they raise their children? How did they interact with government? What did they do for fun? This encyclopedia provides readers with an engaging and detailed portrayal of the Old West through the examination of social, cultural, and material history.

Supported by the most current research, the multivolume set explores various aspects of social history—family, politics, religion, economics, and recreation—to illuminate aspects of a society’s emotional life, interactions, opinions, views, beliefs, intimate relationships, and connections between the individual and the greater world. Readers will be exposed to both objective reality and subjective views of a particular culture; as a result, they can create a cohesive, accurate impression of life in the Old West during the second half of the 1800s.


  • Offers insights based on social history and the daily experience of the average person to engage students' interest and curiosity rather than focusing on the events, dates, and names of "traditional history"
  • Presents information within a thematic organization that encourages a more in-depth study of specific aspects of daily life in the Old West
  • Includes related primary documents that enable students to view history more directly and reach their own conclusions about past events
  • Examines a wide range of topics such as work, family life, clothing and fashion, food and drink, housing and community, politics, social customs, spirituality, and technology
  • Provides a general introduction per volume, individual topic introductions, numerous images and illustrations, a timeline of events, and a bibliography identifying print and nonprint resources
Gordon Morris Bakken, PhD, is professor of history emeritus at California State University, Fullerton. He has written and edited numerous books, articles, encyclopedia entries, and reviews. His vast body of published work includes Greenwood's Icons of the American West: From Cowgirls to Silicon Valley; Encyclopedia of Immigration and Migration in the American West; Encyclopedia of Women in the American West, and Where is the West? The American West.


"Written at a level accessible to high school students, this reference tool would be a beneficial resource for high school, public, and undergraduate libraries."—ARBA, March 13, 2017

"Lots of sound information on a variety of fascinating topics for high school students, college undergraduates, and nonspecialists with an interest in the social, political, intellectual, and material culture of the 1800s American West."—Library Journal, April 15, 2017

Daily Life

What was life really like for ordinary people in other cultures throughout history? How did they raise their children? What did they do for fun? From sexual mores in ancient Egypt to resistance music in modern Latin America, and from the fashion sense of the Mongols to the importance of film in modern India, the world comes alive in the indispensable hands-on volumes of this award-winning series. A truly interdisciplinary resource, the Daily Life series covers arts; religion; food; literature; language; romance; rites of passage and coming of age; marriage customs; social and government structure; sickness and cures; warfare; sports and games; holidays; festivals; and more. Supported by the most current research, these authoritative volumes provide an in-depth exploration of daily life throughout history.

Each volume provides:
• An exploration of complex eras in history on a level accessible to students and general readers
• Authoritative coverage stemming from the most current scholarship and recent discoveries
• A focus on social rather than political history in key curricular areas, providing an in-depth understanding of the nuts and bolts of daily life
• Interactive, exciting details such as recipes, sheet music, rules for games, song lyrics, and more
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