• Chimney Rock was an important emigrant landmark in western Nebraska

    California

    National Historic Trail CA,CO,ID,KS,MO,NE,NV,OR,UT,WY

Research

TITLE: Sweet Freedom's Plains: African Americans on the Overland Trails 1841-1869
AUTHOR: Shirley Ann Wilson Moore, PhD.
DATE ACCEPTED: January 31, 2012

Dr. Shirley Ann Wilson Moore, Professor of History at California State University, Sacramento, worked with the National Park Service, National Trails Intermountain Region to create this groundbreaking study about the African American emigrant experience on the Oregon, California and Mormon Pioneer national historic trails. Read her engaging study on this little known component of American history.

Sweet Freedom's Plains: African Americans on the Overland Trails 1841-1869, Adobe PDF

"African American men, women and children were western pioneers too. Enslaved or free, they were an integral part of the human tide that undertook the long journey across the continent."

"Black people, like their white counterparts, crossed the plains for myriad personal, economic, social, and political reasons. The lure of free land, new business opportunities, and individual autonomy were aspirations shared by both groups."

"Clearly, the lives, hopes, and expectations of nineteenth century black people differed in critical ways from those of white people. As a result, African Americans understood and experienced the westering journey in ways that white emigrants could not. The study of the African American experience on the trails broadens our understanding of the nature, scope, and meaning of westward migration. The experiences of the thousands of black men and women who came west compel us to reconsider the traditional narrative of our nation's history."

Did You Know?

Bubbling carbonated waters of Sulphur Springs Lake near Soda Springs in Southeastern Idaho.

1840s Pioneers to California followed the road to Oregon through Southeastern Idaho before heading Southwest to the Humboldt River. The Soda Springs area of Idaho had many natural wonders never seen by most of these emigrants. Many remarked about its wonderfully tasting carbonated waters. More...