• Scotts Bluff National Monument is located in western Nebraska, landmark for the Pony Express, Oregon, California and Mormon Pioneer national historic trails

    Oregon

    National Historic Trail ID,KS,MO,NE,OR,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?

Windless Hill near Ash Hollow on the Oregon & California trails.

After climbing up onto the prairie out of the Platte River Valley of western Nebraska, emigrant wagons headed for Oregon & California in the 1840s-1860s were faced with a very steep descent down Windless Hill near Ash Hollow. More...