The American West is such a vast topic, you need a general reference (or several) within arm's reach. We found these especially helpful: Howard R. Lamar, ed., The New Encyclopedia of the American West (Yale, 1998); Clyde A. Milner II, Carol A. O'Connor and Martha A. Sandweiss, eds., The Oxford History of the American West (Oxford, 1994); and Richard White, "It's Your Misfortune and None of My Own": A New History of the American West (University of Oklahoma, 1991).

For insight into the West's religious landscape, Ferenc Szasz ("Preparing a Way in the Wilderness") is a top authority. He wrote The Protestant Clergy in the Great Plains and Mountain West, 1865-1915 (University of New Mexico, 1988); edited Religion in the West (Sunflower University, 1984); co-edited (with Richard Etulain) Religion in Modern New Mexico (University of New Mexico, 1997); and has written and contributed to numerous other works on the subject.

Primary Sources

Primary sources are especially remarkable for bringing the West to life, and there are dozens and dozens available. Here are some we found most helpful in preparing this issue:

Sheldon Jackson, Alaska and Missions on the North Pacific Coast (Dodd, Mead & Co., 1880).

William Taylor, Seven Years Street Preaching in San Francisco (Carlton & Potter, 1857) and California Life Illustrated (Phillips & Hunt, 1858).

Clifford Merrill Drury, ed., On to Oregon: The Diaries of Mary Walker & Myra Eells (University of Nebraska, 1963).

J. S. Holliday (based on the diary of William Swain), The World Rushed In: The California Gold Rush Experience (Simon and Schuster, 1981).

Cathy Luchetti (based on the diaries of frontier evangelists), Under God's Spell (HBJ, 1989).


Another key to comprehending the West is to ...

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