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ERIC Number: EJ961991
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0037-7724
Evaluating Perspectives on Westward Expansion: Weighing the Evidence
Greenhut, Stephanie
Social Education, v75 n6 p317-320 Nov-Dec 2011
When Americans from the eastern part of the United States began moving west in large numbers in the mid-nineteenth century, tensions escalated and conflicts erupted between and among settlers, railroad workers, ranchers, the United States military, and numerous Native American tribes. Incorporating balanced consideration of these diverse and multi-layered encounters in an already brief curricular unit on westward expansion can be tough. It might be easy to teach about the West one-dimensionally in terms of expansion of the railroads, industries created, or new opportunities for land ownership. But it becomes more difficult when the topic turns to how individuals treated others in the "making of the West." The topic of westward expansion includes a great diversity of people, all in the West for their own reasons, with different perspectives and aspirations. Including a full variety of perspectives is important when teaching about westward expansion, and helping students evaluate each perspective is even more important. The Weighing the Evidence tool on the National Archives' website can help students do this. The tool encourages students to analyze and evaluate primary sources, and "weigh" the significance of the information in relation to a central question. In short, students use historical evidence to arrive at their own conclusions.
National Council for the Social Studies. 8555 Sixteenth Street #500, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Tel: 800-683-0812; Tel: 301-588-1800; Fax: 301-588-2049; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Historical Materials; Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A