Series: Curiosity Kit: Black Cowpokes in the American West

Curiosity Kits inspire exploration and learning of history through place. These multi-piece resources include articles that explore historic places and provide educational activities for life-long learners. This kit focuses on the history of Black cowboys and cowgirls. This profession, while dangerous, offered some freedom from the discriminatory practices of other jobs. Here you’ll find resources about the cowpoke (another word for cowboy/cowgirl) life.

  • Article 1: Engaging with Cowpoke History

    Poster of a famous cowboy.

    If your initial definition of a cowboy (also known as a “cowpoke”) is a gun-slinging, rugged fellow on horseback, then you’re not alone! Over the past century, cowboys have taken on a mythic status. But there is more to cowboying than what you see on TV and in the movies. In this article you'll find information about what it was like to be a cowboy or cowgirl as well as discussion questions and activities. Read more

  • Article 2: Black Cowpokes of the Wild West

    Photo of a woman holding a gun.

    Cowboying become a way to make decent money in the 1880s. It was also a way for Black cowpoke to escape the racial discrimination of the South. Many formerly enslaved Black cowboys and cowgirls, such Bose Ikard and Mary Fields, found greater freedom in the west. Explore some of their stories here! Read more

  • Article 3: Places of Black Cowpokes

    Cowboy on horseback.

    Cowboying is a profession that developed over the course of several centuries, from the 1500s through the present. By the 1860s, it became an appealing line of work for many African Americans seeking freedom from the racial discrimination prevalent in the South. Discover some of the historic places associated with the lives of Black cowboys and cowgirls. Read more

Last updated: January 27, 2024