The Importance of Children on the American Frontier: A Comparative Study in Nineteenth Century Western Migration and Settlement
This thesis examines the various roles that children played in the long journey westward that many brave families made to frontier settlements during the middle and late nineteenth century. It also analyzes the influences children had on the successful outcomes of those settlements once frontier families reached western lands. It includes information about rural farm settlements, in places such as Oregon, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Iowa, as well as urban mining towns in California, Nevada, and Colorado. While some authors have discussed frontier children during this time before, the goal of this thesis is to reinforce previous studies while taking a new comparative approach to understanding the importance of children to frontier families. It is comparative in its examination of rural versus urban communities, its consideration of both western migration and settlement of western communities, as well as in the earlier and later decades of westward settlement that occurred. Following this approach, the examined research is divided into an introduction and four chapters. The introduction allows for the description of research strategies, sources, and methods. It also provides an opportunity to explain specific parameters, pitfalls, and future possibilities associated with this type of research. Following a historiographical chapter on the development of frontier history, the bulk of the thesis material is separated into two main chapters. First, the thesis explores the lives and experiences of pioneer children traveling along similar routes during the 1840s and early 1850s to western settlements in the Oregon Territory, mainly Willamette Valley, and gold mining camps in California. The focus for these children is on the arduous journey along the Overland Trail with their families and the important roles that they played in the successful completion of those trips and the initial settlement of western communities. Next, families that settled in rural and urban communities in later decades are presented. The children during this time are examined with a focus on already established western territories and the importance of children in growing and developing prosperous American towns and settlements. By looking at the importance of children in this manner, the research can then be compared to better understand both the differences and similarities of these two groups over time and conclusions can then be made about the essential roles children filled in western migration. The comparisons and conclusions are presented in a closing summative chapter. Understanding the importance of children in western migration and settlement is an important addition to the new western history that is being done within the broader scope of American frontier history. Scholars are no longer strictly viewing the west through the eyes of pioneer men, and it is for this reason that I believe this thesis will add a new variation to existing thoughts on frontier settlement. Although resources are somewhat scarce, the understanding of children and their important roles in western history can be better understood when examined exclusively for the purpose of comparing different settlement groups, rather than taking each individual account on its own.
Jackman, Kimberly. (January 0001). The Importance of Children on the American Frontier: A Comparative Study in Nineteenth Century Western Migration and Settlement (Master's Thesis, East Carolina University). Retrieved from the Scholarship. (http://hdl.handle.net/10342/5094.)
Jackman, Kimberly. The Importance of Children on the American Frontier: A Comparative Study in Nineteenth Century Western Migration and Settlement. Master's Thesis. East Carolina University, January 0001. The Scholarship. http://hdl.handle.net/10342/5094. December 11, 2023.
Jackman, Kimberly, “The Importance of Children on the American Frontier: A Comparative Study in Nineteenth Century Western Migration and Settlement” (Master's Thesis., East Carolina University, January 0001).
Jackman, Kimberly. The Importance of Children on the American Frontier: A Comparative Study in Nineteenth Century Western Migration and Settlement [Master's Thesis]. Greenville, NC: East Carolina University; January 0001.
East Carolina University