Aldrich, Mark. Death Rode the Rails: American Railroad Accidents and Safety. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006. ebrary (Innovative Interfaces). Web. 4 July 2013.
Aldrich examines the dark side of the burgeoning railroad technology in the nineteenth century by outlining the causes of casualties and injuries and examining the economic approach undertaken by politicians to limit the danger. Aldrich claims that personal safety as an incentive was insufficient and argues instead that political legislation created enormous economic incentives for safety, which made for a dependable and regulated mode of transportation. A statistical analysis supports Aldrich’s argument and can be found in Appendix One of the text.
Atherton, Lewis. “Cattleman and Cowboy: Fact and Fancy.” Montana: The Magazine of Western History 11.4 (1961): 2–17. Print. JSTOR. Web. 10 June 2013.
Atherton explores how ironic it is that the ranch hand or the cowboy rather than the rancher becomes the central character in the western frontier. Prior to the development of the cowboy, heroes were required to be eastern, upper-class noblemen. The cowboy remains to this day a nameless hero that anyone can strive to be with hard work and perseverance (good breeding is not a requirement). In addition, books, television, and movies have all helped transition the cowboy from unpredictable to the moral nobleman of the West.
Brown, Richard Maxwell. “Western Violence: Structure, Values, Myth.” The Western Historical Quarterly 24.1 (1993): 4–20. JSTOR. Web. 28 May 2013.
Brown argues that a reassessment of western violence can elucidate both our western past and the American present. His discussion focuses on an examination of the structure of western violence in what he calls the “Western Civil War of Incorporation.” This “civil war” took place, he says, primarily from 1850–1900 and was essentially the “conservative, consolidating authority of modern capitalistic forces” that brought industry, government, and progress to the western states, regardless of what the inhabitants wanted. The supporters endorsed the conservative, traditional values of progress, settlement of the west, and ownership of land, etc. The dissidents resisted industrialization and settlement of the West. Brown’s argument culminates in his assertion that the conflict in the mythology of the western hero was an outcome of this violence and that the conflict still exists today. The reason for this, he notes, is because Americans are deeply ambivalent about established power and dissident protest. This ambivalence is reflected in every aspect of society, including culture, politics, and art.
Den Uyl, Douglas, J. “Civilization and Its Discontents: The Self-Sufficient Western Hero.” The Philosophy of the Western. Eds. Jennifer L. McMahon and B. Steve Csaki. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2010. 31–54. Print.
Den Uyl begins his essay with the assertion that there is nothing more symptomatic of the western than the lone hero, abandoned by all, performing some act of courage to right a wrong or to save the innocent from injustice. He gives the example of the hero in High Noon who must go it alone against a band of outlaws—deserted even by his fiancé. Den Uyl relates this western hero to the philosophical ideal of the hero as described by Aristotle and Spinoza. Aristotle, he says, takes the view that the self-sufficient life is one guided by reason or intelligence. Den Uyl expands this view of the western hero, stating the hero is not only self-sufficient and self-motivated, he is also self-reliant—a particularly American quality. When no one will come to the sheriff’s aid (in High Noon), he can rely only on himself to do what is right. Den Uyl ends his essay with the assertion that “self-sufficiency may broadly identify a form of human excellence that has been handed down to us from Western philosophers; but self-reliance is America’s contribution to the pantheon of particular moral virtues, and the American western is its cultural signature.”
Etulain, Richard W. “The Historical Development of the Western.” The Popular Western. Eds. Richard W. Etulain and Michael T. Marsden. Bowling Green: Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1974. 717/75–726/84. Print.
Etulain points out that one of the problems of a critical approach to the western genre is that the genre is so difficult to define. He then goes on to provide a descriptive if not definitive definition of the genre in order to offer a critique of the western in popular fiction. The description divides western fiction into three stages of development. In the first stage it is a formulaic action-adventure story always containing the specific elements of good versus evil, a strong male hero, and a love interest. This type of story was popularized in the pulp magazines. In stages two and three, various authors attempted to break out of the formula, offering first a historical element to the western and then a more reflective hero, although still a man of action and superior ability. Etulain argues that each stage of development has revived the genre in the eyes of the genre’s audience as well as lending it more critical legitimacy. He also posits a fourth stage is underway that will once again redefine the western and make it even more valuable in both the critical and popular mindset.
Etulain, Richard W. “Western Stories for the Next Generation.” The Western Historical Quarterly 31.1 (2000): 4–23. Print. JSTOR. Web. 10 June 2013.
Morality and hope drove the creation of the American West. The West has often been subject to a narrow perspective. However, the New Western writers are starting to create a broad, complex narrative of what the West means. The West was not driven solely by men and women toting a gun; rather the West was driven by strong families and strong investment from the East. It is now up to the new historians to portray the many narratives of life in the West.
Francaviglia, Richard V. Over the Range: A History of the Promontory Summit Route of the Pacific Railroad. Logan: Utah State University Press, 2008. Ebrary (Innovative Interfaces). Web. 4 July 2013.
Francaviglia consults with academic historians and archaeologists to write this book. He predominantly focuses on the Promontory Summit of the first transcontinental railroad but broadens his examination to 200 years of the history, culture, and cartography of the site. Francaviglia argues that while the Promontory Summit is no longer an important railroad hub, it has extreme historical importance and should be valued as a significant site of American history.
Grant, H. Roger. Railroads and the American People. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2012. Print.
This book by Dr. Roger H. Grant is based on the influence of the social history of railroads in American life. Dr. Grant is a professor of American history at Clemson University. He is considered to be among the leading experts in transportation history. The text centers on the railroading years from 1830–1930. Dr. Grant explores many topics concerning railroading in America, among them are trains, railroads, train stations, and community life.
Hine, Charles De Lano. Letters from an Old Railway Official to His Son, a Division Superintendent. Chicago: The Railway Age, 1904. HathiTrust Digital Library. Web. 25 June 2013.
The book contains a postscript written by Frank H. Spearman. This will provide an insight into a personal opinion from Mr. Spearman about the book.
Holbrook, Stewart H. The Story of American Railroads. New York: Crown Publishers, 1947. Print.
Written at a time when the railroad was still the dominant form of transportation, Holbrook takes a nostalgic look at how the steam-powered railroads have influenced the creation of the continental United States. He claims that steam-powered railroads have influenced America more than any other technological invention and describes the transformation of engines, cars, and rails from the 1840s–1950s. Holbrook goes on to argue that the steam train’s downfall can be attributed to unfair over-regulation by the federal government. Holbrook begrudgingly acknowledges the impending takeover of the diesel engine in a federally regulated transportation climate but concludes no other invention will be able to transform the country the way the steam-powered railroad was able to within a single generation.
Jones, Daryl, E. “Clenched Teeth and Curses: Revenge and the Dime Novel Outlaw Hero.” The Popular Western. Eds. Richard W. Etulain and Michael T. Marsden. Bowling Green: Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1974. 653/11–665/23. Print.
Jones describes what constitutes the idea of the “noble” outlaw, a type of Robin Hood of the old West. This noble outlaw first appeared in a dime novel on October 15, 1877. The character was called Deadwood Dick and was, according to Jones, an instant success. After Deadwood Dick’s appearance, every pulp magazine came up with its own version of the character. Jones argues that this outlaw represented a means of resolving in a fictional setting the seeming unsolvable conflicts of modern society. This was an archetype particularly suited to an American point of view: the noble outlaw punished the wicked, rewarded the good, and could not be ground down by a system devoted to making money.
Kearns, Gerry. “The Virtuous Circle of Facts and Values in the New Western History.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 88.3 (1998): 377–409. JSTOR. Web. 10 June 2013.
New Western history is attempting to reclaim the notion that the great Western Frontier was a place where civilization won against pagan savages. The New Western ideals aim to portray the destruction, injustices, race, class, and gender conflicts that all plagued the frontier. In addition, there are no attempts at downplaying the imperial values of the frontier in its land acquisition for the creation of a nation. The voices of the “others” in the frontier can provide insight into the values and identities of Anglo-Americans in the West.
Kilton, Tom D. “The American Railroad as Publisher, Bookseller, and Librarian.” The Journal of Library History 17.1 (1982): 39–64. JSTOR. Web. 15 June 2013.
Kilton chronicles the railroad’s relationship to reading materials through publishing specific train-travel literature, such as serials and travel guides; distribution by supplying a platform for book-based vendors; and lending through an employee-based traveling library program. The railroad’s participation in book publishing and distribution created its own genre known as railroad literature, meant for pleasure and railroad travel reading. Ultimately, the railroad encouraged and participated in increasing the literacy rates and access to educational materials during the 1900s.
Lalire, Gregory J. Rev. of Whispering Smith: His Life and Misadventures, by Allen P. Bristow. Wild West 02 2008: 70. ProQuest. Web. 26 June 2013.
This is a favorable review of the book. The article discusses the character Whispering Smith. The article makes a comparison between a real-life law enforcer and the character Whispering Smith.
Limerick, Patty. “Examining The Heart of the West.” The Public Historian 31.4 (2009): 90–96. JSTOR Web. 25 May 2013.
Patty Limerick wrote a book called The Legacy of Conquest, which is a revisionist look at the American West. Her goal in this book and in all her lectures was to force the public into seeing and understanding the American West in a new way—which she found slow going because of how deeply ingrained the romance of the western myth and hero has become in our culture. She discusses what she calls “her considerable debt” to Penelope Williamson who wrote a novel called The Heart of the West, which embraced the romantic tradition. When talking about the lasting power of the romantic tradition to an audience of students at Fort Lewis College, Limerick asked the students to “take one hundred points and distribute them between the two genres” represented by her book and Williamson’s. The distribution was to reflect the influence over the public that the two texts held. The outcome was that Williamson’s book received one hundred percent of the points. This eye-opening experience ultimately changed Limerick’s approach to how she presented her “new” historical perspective to audiences. She realized she would have to come at this new view of the West in a way that did not confront the romanticized view head on; rather she would have to draw people in with stories that give new meaning to the old stories.
Padget, Martin. “Claiming, Corrupting, Contesting: Reconsidering ‘The West’ in Western American Literature.” American Literary History 10.2 (Summer, 1998): 378–392. JSTOR. Web. 10 June 2013.
Padget examines the implication of the words West and Western, as exemplified through such ideologies as Manifest Destiny, and shows how they are being reconstructed through modern-day western writers such as William Kittredge, Ralph Beer, and Mary Clearman to name a few. Padget uses Gregory Morris’s book Talking Up a Storm: Voices of the New West, a collection of interviews of “New West” writers to illustrate how differently these words are used and perceived. Ultimately he questions whether the western genre has ever really left the “Old West” ideas.
Phillips, Charles. “November 18, 1883.”American History 39.5 (2004): 16. Gale. Web. 17 June 2013.
Phillips explains the methods of keeping time before the technological advancement of the railroad required a regulated and precise standard of time. He describes the reluctance of the railroad companies to collaborate or regulate and the resulting confusion that followed. The brief article ends by clarifying the political process initiated by President Chester A. Arthur and the twenty “civilized” nations of the world to create the twenty-four time zones we have today.
Price, M. Jay. “Still Facing John Wayne After All These Years: Bringing New Western History to Larger Audiences.” The Public Historian 31.4 (2009): 80–84. Print. JSTOR. Web. 10 June 2013.
New Western history strives to give voice to the different people that did not leave written records of the West such as the Native Americans, Chinese, and Hispanics that already lived throughout the West. For the population at large, movies provide the greatest source of information about the West, and thus, historians are faced with the difficult task of educating and meeting expectations of the greater public.
Rollins, Philip A. The Cowboy: An Unconventional History of Civilization on the Old-Time Cattle Range. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997. Print.
The real American cowboy is exposed in this book, sharing accurate accounts on the daily life of the American cowboy. Most significantly, the book explains the everyday trade as well as demonstrating the cowboy persona.
Schwieterman, Joseph P. When the Railroad Leaves Town: American Communities in the Age of Rail Line Abandonment: Western United States. Kirksville: Truman State University Press, 2004. Print.
Dr. Joseph Schwieterman is a member of the faculty at DePaul University. Considered an authority in the economics of urban transportation, he explores in this book the rise and fall of fifty-eight railroading communities. In his study, he recognizes the influence of local economic, political, and transportation history on the railroading communities.
Spearman, Frank H. The Strategy of Great Railroads. New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1913. HathiTrust Digital Library. Web. 20 June 2013.
The book describes the transportation in the United States. The railroads are outlined in the book.
Stover, John F. American Railroads. Ed. Daniel J. Boorstin. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961. Print. The Chicago History of American Civilization.
Stover examines the transformation of American politics, economics, and settlement through the topical lens of the American railroad. Beginning with the creation of a rail system and the invention of steam engines, Stover explains how the railroad superseded the developing system of canals and waterways to become the dominant form of transportation in the United States. Government legislation paved the way for growth and settlement and attempted to provide oversight against corruption. This book is part of a series entitled The Chicago History of American Civilization.
Terry, Keith. Nebraska’s Cowboy Rail Line. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2009. Print. Images of Rail Series.
The emphasis of this book is to share the history of the cowboy rail line, which stretches more than 400 miles across the state of Nebraska. The line passed amid several communities, many of which still exist today. In his work, Dr. Keith Terry, faculty member at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, provides the historical development of the railroad line. He explores the economic importance and social influence the line had on the railroading communities of Nebraska.
Tompkins, Jane. West of Everything: The Inner Life of Westerns. New York: Oxford University Press. 1992. Print.
In this book, Tompkins asks a number of questions about the role of the western and the western hero in American culture; for example, what has the western hero meant for the way Americans living in the twentieth century have thought about themselves, how has the western hero’s aspirations blended with theirs, and how has history influenced people’s beliefs about the way thing are. In her attempt to answer these questions, she discusses some of the genre’s main characteristics: death, women, language (the silent hero), landscape, horses, and cattle. She contends that westerns embody the belief that reality is material not spiritual; that westerns are obsessed with pain and celebrate the suppression of emotions; that taciturn heroes want to dominate the land, sometimes even merge with it, and that they are trying to get away from other people—and themselves. Ultimately, she attempts to come to terms with the violence that is everywhere in the western: from the genocide of the indigenous people to the slaughter of cattle for human consumption and profit. Although Tompkins notes at the beginning of the book that she loves westerns, by the end of the book, she has come to the conclusion that the genre exists as a justification for violence that informs our societal values and individual motivations.
Topping, Gary. “Zane Grey’s West.” The Popular Western. Eds. Richard W. Etulain and Michael T. Marsden. Bowling Green: Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1974. 681/39–689/47. Print.
Topping argues that we know a lot about Zane Grey’s life, but not much about Zane Grey the writer. Topping’s essay takes the view that Grey’s work went beyond the formula western, that it provided a reflection of the popular thought of Grey’s time. According to Topping, Grey views the American West as a unique and purifying force of nature that could purge a man of the corruption and superficiality of the East Coast society. Topping points out that Grey presented a world in which moral incorruptibility, manly virtues, and a strenuous life perfectly matched the values of his age.
Uhl, Alexander. Trains and the Men Who Run Them. Washington: Public Affairs Institute, 1954. Print.
The American railroad was at one point in history the world’s greatest transportation system. The author gives accurate accounts of the railroad worker by exploring the industry. He investigates the lives of the workers, family, and community affected by the railroads.
Wallmann, Jeffrey M. The Western: Parables of the American Dream. Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 1999. EBSCOhost eBook Collection. Web. 12 June 2013.
Wallmann’s book is a response to a quest for a scholarly survey of Western literature, bringing together multiple ideas, themes, and ideologies about the West and its inhabitants. He breaks the West into two parts. The first part is the idea of character, the building of one’s self-identity through the taming of a new land. The second part discusses the West as an imaginary land not bound to a physical location, instead the symbolic crest of an emerging civilization. When these halves unite, an adventurous tale of a cowboy wrestling the land, the other, and the self is told. Ultimately, despite the decline in the western genre, Wallmann believes the western will still survive because of its powerful ability to provide an understanding and critique of the American culture.
West, Elliott. “Selling the Myth: Western Images in Advertising.” Montana: The Magazine of Western History 46.2 (1996): 36–49. JSTOR. Web. 15 June 2013.
Elliott West chronicles the deep legacy of the western myth in advertising campaigns as advertising companies sought new ways to market their goods to the public. By using the western myth, advertisers are telling the story of an untamed environment, the West, which is tamed through American acts of valor, bravado, and courage. Ultimately, this western myth is problematic since once the West is tamed, what story is left to tell.
Williams, John Hoyt. A Great and Shining Road. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1988. Print.
In chronological and narrative form, Williams tells the story of the completion of the transcontinental railway by the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroad companies. Williams expresses the challenges and opportunities faced by entrepreneurs, engineers, inventors, politicians, and laborers. With many “man vs. nature” elements to its completion and the high cost of casualties, Williams highlights the human and, more specifically, American achievement.
Winther, Oscar Osburn. The Transportation Frontier: Trans-Mississippi West, 1865–1890. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1964. Print.
Histories of the American Frontier. Professor Winther overviews all serious modes of transportation that led to settlement of the American West and claims water transportation was just as important as the creation of the railroad, while also giving credit to the stagecoach and bicycle. This book is part of a broader series entitled Histories of the American Frontier and strives to provide a history of the West from a transportation perspective.
Wolmar, Christian. Blood, Iron, and Gold. New York: Public Affairs, 2010. Print.
Wolmar summarizes the establishment of railways systems in countries throughout the world. He explains why they were built and describes how the new technology transformed the daily lives and even the culture of the people affected by them. His broad approach to railroad history allows the reader to compare and contrast experiences of various nations as well as surmise the potential futures of the railroad.
Worden, Daniel. “Masculinity for the Million: Gender in Dime Novel Westerns.” Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature, Culture, and Theory 63.3 (2007): 35–60. Project Muse. Web. 12 June 2013.
Worden examines popular western dime novels such as Edward Wheeler’s Deadwood Dick and Edward S. Ellis’s Seth Jones to explore how masculinity is produced and for what purposes. He states that masculinity becomes a method for evading the accepted social structure power and relationships. Masculinity does not represent normative patriarchal politics, but acts as a tool of resistance against them.
Yezbick, Daniel. “The Western.” St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale, Cengage Learning. 2009. 118–121. Print (also available online at Amazon.com). 15 June 2013.
Yezbick asserts that the cultural significance of the western has overwhelmed the borders of a simple film genre. The western film is a “transitory aesthetic mode comprising recognizable conventions and icons that have spread across the face of international culture.” The western was popularized in early nineteenth century Wild West shows, wilderness paintings, and dime novels, and moving into the twentieth century continued its popularity in films, radio, television, comic books, advertisements, rodeos, musicals, and novels. However, Yezbick argues, even though the western constitutes an international entity (with western films from Italy, Eastern Europe, and Australia), it remains distinctly American, particularly in the sense of rugged individualism and entrepreneurship that the myth and hero embody. Although the popularity of the western has waned over the years, it still offers a sharp insight into how the West and its heroes have shaped the popular understanding of America’s past.
Frank Spearman Resources
Brady, Thomas F. “Paramount to Do ‘Whispering Smith’; Studio Will Remake Western Story by Frank H. Spearman, with Alan Ladd in Lead.” New York Times 7 Feb. 1947, New York Times Archives. Web. 25 June 2013.
The article provides background for the film version of Whispering Smith. The film with Alan Ladd is the third film version of the novel.
Hufnagel, Andrew D. Frank H. Spearman, Noted Author, Receives Laetare Medal for 1935. Vol. LXVIII. University of Notre Dame, 1935. Archives of the Notre Dame Scholastics. Web. 22 June 2013.
The article gives a personal note about Frank H. Spearman. The Laetare Medal is awarded to a “Distinguished Catholic.” Mr. Spearman was recognized for his works.
Kilmer, Joyce. “Business Incompatible with Art.” Literature in the Making: by Some of Its Makers. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1917. Print.
The discussion is with Frank H. Spearman on his thoughts about commercialism and art. He is interested in commercialism of the railroad, which is the topic in his novels.
Sparr, Arnold J. From Self-Congratulation to Self-Criticism: Main Currents in American Catholic Fiction, 1900–1960. 6. 2/3 (1987): 213–230. U.S. Catholic Historian. JSTOR. Web. 20 June 2013.
The article discusses how Mr. Spearman incorporates in his novels the difficulties that arise when a choice must be made that conflicts with Catholic belief.
White, Tom. “From McCook to Whispering Smith.” Nebraska History 87 (2006): 98–119. Web. 6 June 2013.
White claims Frank Spearman as a Nebraskan writer. He chronicles Spearman’s life, focusing on the nine years Spearman lived as a banker in McCook, Nebraska. He traces some of Spearman’s most popular themes and characters back to his time in Nebraska, where he experiences firsthand the western life. Ultimately, while Spearman was heralded during his lifetime, his legacy as a Nebraskan writer is not intact; it ignores the trials and tribulations Nebraskans faced on the mountain, on the prairie, and on the railroad.