Missionaries and the settling of the West

2023 Guides - Theme: Frontiers in History: People, Places, Ideas
Research Guide Image
Oregon Trail by Albert Bierstadt, 1869. Joslyn Art Museum.

Getting Started

Begin your research by brainstorming keywords - the words and phrases you’ll use to search for books, articles, websites, government documents, and other resources. These may include names of people and places or historical concepts like eras and movements. A librarian can suggest “subject headings” to find the most relevant resources.

Example Keywords & Catalog Subject Headings

Westward OR West
Expansion OR Settling
United States

Special Collections and Archives Resources

The Special Collections and Archives at the Central Library focus on Colorado and the West, including the Tenth Mountain Division, Conservation history, and the history of Denver, and feature many primary source materials. 

The Special Collections and Archives at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library focus on African American history and culture in Colorado and the West, and also feature many primary source collections.

Items from these two locations do not check out and are available to see during the hours we are open. Our Special Collections staff are available to assist by phone and email and can provide scans of collection items for your project. To determine which of these two locations is best for your project, email history@denverlibrary.org and include "National History Day" in your subject line. You may also call 720-865-1821 (Central) or 720-865-2401 (Blair-Caldwell). 

Database/Online Resources

Library databases are online collections of information, organized for research. Databases contain articles, eBooks, images, maps, primary sources and more. If you don’t have a library card, register online for immediate access to these resources. The following recommended databases are available on our Research and Teen Social Studies pages.

Explora High School (Ebsco)

Look up topic overviews, magazine and academic journal articles, facts and primary sources for research papers, class projects or homework. Get information from trustworthy sources that you can cite in your papers. Designed with students and educators in mind.

Available with library card

Prospector: Materials from Other Colorado and Wyoming Libraries

​​As a Denver Public Library customer, you can also borrow materials from other libraries in Colorado and Wyoming. Use Prospector to request materials that DPL does not own.

Internet Sources

Before using information you find on the internet for assignments and research, it is important to establish that the information comes from a reliable and appropriate source. The following websites, from government, academic and nonprofit organizations, have been evaluated for authority, accuracy, content and currency.

From the Texas affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, this resource includes exerpts from a report filed by Lieutenant Neil M. Howison who visited the Oregon Territory in 1846. His report includes encounters with British naval officers, French Canadians, American Indians, missionaries, and employees of the Hudson's Bay Company. The webiste includes a link to the full report as well.
This resources discusses how missionaries blazed the Oregon Trail and includes information about Nathaniel Wyeth and Marcus Whitman.

Contact the Reference Services department for help with your research project