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Our Westward Expansion Anthology Is Ideal for National History Day Projects

Every year, secondary school students across the country participate in the National History Day contest. For 2022-23, the theme is Frontiers in History: People, Places, Ideas. The theme this year happens to be a great fit with The Schlager Anthology of Westward Expansion. This volume, with its focus on essential primary documents of the western frontier and its place in American history, is an ideal resource for students doing National History Day projects.

The nearly 80 sources in our anthology include ones that provided the ideological underpinnings of manifest destiny. These include John Winthrop’s 1630 sermon “A Model of Christian Charity,” which laid the foundation for manifest destiny and justified the eventual conquest of the West. In addition, students will find documents that trace the expansion of Anglo-American settlers across the West. Still others recount the devastating effect this expansion had on Native Americans who were already there. For example, Richard H. Pratt’s “Kill the Indian, and Save the Man” speech reflected the policy of Indigenous assimilation into white society. 

Native American voices in the volume range from Nez Perce Chief Joseph, Santee Sioux physician Charles Eastman, and Northern Paiute activist and author Sarah Winnemuca Hopkins, to Cherokee Chief John Ross and Zitkala-Ša. Students are also asked to grapple with how the past is remembered and represented. All of these documents provide rich material to help students design their project and bring it to fruition.

“A valuable resource for high schoolers and undergraduates researching ‘Manifest Destiny’ in the U.S.”

(Library Journal review of The Schlager Anthology of Westward Expansion)

The volume includes numerous elements to help students engage with the sources. The commentary that accompanies each carefully abridged source is simple and straightforward. First, a fact box contains the key information about the source: document title, author name, date, document type, and a brief statement of the document’s significance. Next, each document includes a concise overview section that places the source in its proper historical context. Following the document text is a list of activity questions. These prompt students to think more deeply about the source and its meaning and impact. Finally, each entry includes a glossary that defines any unfamiliar words or references in the document text.

The Schlager Anthology of Westward Expansion is available in both print and ebook form. It is suitable for high school, public, and academic libraries. Visit the product page to see a full table of contents, view sample pages, and find information on how to order the book.