Fall semester 2007, Mondays, 4:10- 6:55pm

History Seminar Room, SCI 268

Professor: Philip J. Dreyfus

Office: SCI 222 Hours: MWF 1-2pm

Topic: This seminar will focus on the western United States during the first half of the twentieth century. Students will consider and discuss readings that approach the regional history of the trans-Mississippi West from a variety of perspectives, including environmental, ethnic, gender, labor and urban history. Students will develop an understanding of a range of ways to study the "West" and will apply their knowledge to a term paper based on primary sources in an area of personal interest. The class will concern itself with the following central questions: Why is there such a field as Western U.S. history at all? How do we define the West and where do we place it – in space, in time, or in the imagination? Are the attributes of western life in terms of landscape, culture, and development unique or not and why?

Requirements: All students must complete all of the required readings for each week to ensure lively discussion with full engagement by the class. Each student will have the responsibility of initiating class discussion of one of the assigned readings each week. You will also each make a class presentation on secondary works; prepare a review essay which will serve as a preliminary investigation into the subject of a term paper; write a term paper based on research in primary sources; present the research paper to the class; and prepare a critique of another student’s paper. The relative weight of the various assignments appears in the table below.

Due Date


Proportion of Final Grade

By September 10

Term Paper Proposal


October 1

Review essay


Sept. 10 – Oct. 15

Class presentations: readings


October 8

Report on primary sources


October 22

Research paper – 1st draft


Oct. 29 – Dec. 10

Present research & critiques


December 14 - 19

Research paper – final draft


Every week

Class participation


Grading policies:

· Any sort of late paper will be marked down one full grade level (10%) unless accompanied by written proof of emergency conditions.

· Any missing assignments will receive a grade of "F."

· Plagiarism of any assignment will result in a grade of "F" for the course.

· Failure to follow proper administrative procedures for withdrawal from the class will result in a grade of "WU," which is equivalent to an "F."

· Any student wishing to receive a grade of "I" (incomplete) must have completed at least 60% of the graded work for the class and must file a formal petition on the proper university form. Failure to follow these instructions for an "I" will result in a "WU," which is equivalent to an "F."

· In other words, it is in your own best interests to do your work in a timely fashion and to follow university guidelines.

Recommended Reference Works:

o Turabian, Kate. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations.

o Oxford American Dictionary.

Required Readings:




Gerald Nash and Richard Etulain, editors, Researching Western History.

Patricia Nelson Limerick et al, editors, Trails: Toward a New Western History.

September 10 – NATURE & ENVIRONMENT 1


Richard White, "Trashing the Trails," in Limerick, Trails, 26-39.

Jerome Frisk, "The Theoretical (Re)Positions of the New Western History," in Forrest G. Robinson, editor, The New Western History: The Territory Ahead (Tucson, University of Arizona Press, 1997): 17-60. {ER}

William Cronon, "The Trouble With Wilderness, or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature," in Cronon, editor, Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1996): 69-90. {ER}

Donald Worster, Under Western Skies, chapter 2.

Term Paper Proposal Due

September 17 – NATURE & ENVIRONMENT 2


Donald Worster, Under Western Skies, chapters 4-7.

Donald Worster, Rivers of Empire: Water, Aridity, and the Growth of the American West (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985): chapter IV, "Florescence: The State and the Desert." {ER}

Richard White, It’s Your Misfortune and None of My Own (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991): chapter 9, "Transforming the Land." {ER}



Melvyn Dubofsky, "The Origins of Western Working Class Radicalism, 1890-1905," Labor History 7 (1966): 131-154. {ER}

Carlos Schwantes, "The Concept of the Wageworkers’ Frontier. A Framework for Future Research," Western Historical Quarterly 23 (1987): 39-55. {ER}

Philip Dreyfus, "The IWW and the Limits of Inter-Ethnic Organizing," Labor History 38 (1997): 450-470. {ER}

David Igler, Industrial Cowboys (Berkeley: UC, 2001), chapter 5, "Laboring on the Land," 122-46. {ER}

Tomas Alamaguer, "Racial Domination and Class Conflict in Capitalist Agriculture: The Oxnard Sugar Beet Workers’ Strike of 1903," in Cornford.



Daniel Cornford, editor, Working People of California, on-line edition, the following essays:

Dorothy Sue Cobble, "Dishing It Out: Waitresses and the Making of Their Unions in San Francisco, 1900-1941."

James N. Gregory, "Okies and the Politics of Plain-Folk Americanism."

Charles Wollenberg, "James V. Marinship: Trouble on the New Black Frontier."

Bruce Nelson, "The Big Strike." 

Vicki Ruiz, "A Promise Fulfilled: Mexican Cannery Workers in Southern California."

Review Essay Due

October 8 – GENDER


Peggy Pascoe, "Western Women at the Cultural Crossroads," in Limerick, Trails, 40-58.

Jameson and Armitage, Writing the Range, Introduction, 3-16 and the following essays:

Laurie Mercier, "We Are Women Irish: Gender, Class, Religious, and Ethnic Identity in Anaconda, Montana," 311-333.

Lynda Dickson, "Save The Babies! American Indian Women, Assimilation Policy, and Scientific Motherhood, 1912-1918," 393-409.

Cynthia Orozco, "Alice Dickerson Montemayor: Feminism and Mexican American Politics in the 1930s," 435-456.

Valerie Matsumoto, "Desperately Seeking Deirdre: Gender Roles, Multicultural Relations, and Nisei Women Writers of the 1930s," 461-474.

Shirley Ann Wilson Moore, "Not in Somebody’s Kitchen: African American Women Workers in Richmond, California, and the Impact of World War II," 517-532.

Report on primary sources due



Gerald D. Nash, "The West as Urban Civilization," in Creating the West: Historical Interpretations, 1890-1990, 159-95. {ER}

Carl Abbott, Greater Portland (2001).

October 22: FIRST DRAFT OF TERM PAPER DUE. Exchange papers.

October 29; November 5, 26; December 3,10: PRESENTATION OF PAPERS. Written copies of CRITIQUES DUE.



Class presentation of readings: From September 10 through October 15, students will complete several readings in common as listed in the schedule above. All students will be responsible for class discussion of the assigned material. Additionally, each week three of you will present your own summaries of a book or several articles that have not been assigned to the class as a whole. Your summaries should be about 20 minutes long and must include the following:

ü A summary of the book or articles.

ü The thesis of the book or articles.

ü An explanation of the work’s unique contribution to Western U.S. history.

ü A series of questions for class discussion that link your individual reading(s) to those of the class as a whole.

Written assignments must be word-processed, double-spaced, 12-point font, with 1-inch margins on all sides. Citations must be in footnotes and follow Turabian rules. Pages must be numbered consecutively. You will be graded on form and content so edit carefully for spelling, grammar and syntax. Keep a copy of anything you turn in.

Review Essay: This essay will explore the principal historical works related to your term paper topic and may be built on your classroom presentation. You must use at least three books, with 3 or 4 articles counting as a book. If you wish, you may add references to the required readings for the class. The title will be REVIEW ESSAY, and should begin with full bibliographic citations for all the works you are reviewing. Examples can be found in Reviews in American History. Your essay should consist of 4 to 6 pages of summary and critique, including treatment of the thesis, and 2 pages exploring the relationship of your chosen works to your research paper. Include 3 or 4 questions arising from your reading that you hope to address in your own research. Also conduct a search using InvestiGATOR, MELVYL, or CARL/Uncover and attach an additional annotated bibliography of up to 10 works by historians that have a bearing on your topic.

Term Paper: Start this as soon as possible, and follow the steps below.

1. An initial un-graded proposal is due September 10. Write a page or less describing your research interests for this course. Include as much as you know about relevant primary and secondary sources. Be ready to give a 2-minute summary in class on the due date.

2. You will make a 20-minute class presentation of a book or several articles that will hopefully be relevant to your research.

3. Your review essay is due October 1. This essay will provide the context for your paper by establishing the historiographic background of your subject.

4. An un-graded, single page report on primary sources is due October 8. This will ensure that you have identified sufficient material to write your paper successfully.

5. The presentation of the initial draft of your paper will be occur between October 29 and December 10, as assigned in class. Your paper must be organized as follows:

Ø An introduction (1 page).

Ø A survey of historiography, derived from your previous work, including an explicit statement of the questions your paper seeks to answer (5 pages).

Ø The results of your research into primary sources, including narrative and analysis (10-15 pages).

Ø A conclusion that ties your findings to your initial questions, and indicates questions for further research (2-3 pages).

Ø A bibliography divided into separate categories for primary sources and secondary works.


The revised and final draft of your paper is optional. You may revise your initial draft according to the suggestions made by your three readers (me and two students), or you may let your initial draft stand as your paper for the course. If you submit no revised paper, the grade for your initial draft will be your grade for the whole project, and will consequently be worth 50% of your grade for the course.

Your paper will be graded on your treatment of historiography, your effective use of primary sources, the effectiveness of your conclusion, the thoroughness of your bibliography, and the quality of your writing.

Part of your grade for the paper will also be based on a 20-minute oral presentation of your findings to the seminar. Rather than reading your paper, you need to adapt it for the purposes of this presentation. From October 29 to the end of the semester, each class will consist of three presentations, a break, critiques, and class discussion of the papers and critiques. Timing is very important to ensure that all goes smoothly. Practice orally ahead of time to be certain that you do not run under or over the 20-minute time limit.

Critiques: I will assign two critics to each paper. A critique is very similar to a book review. Keep your suggestions constructive. Develop your critique in 2 to 3 pages of writing, or about 5 minutes per paper. Consider the thesis, the effectiveness of evidence, the logic of the argument, and the clarity of organization. Besides presenting your critique to the class, bring two printed copies, one for me and one for the author of the paper.


The following Western United States history bibliography is not exhaustive, but includes most of the best recent work in the field and some important older studies. It is restricted as much as possible to the period spanning the very end of the nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth. It is organized topically but one should keep in mind that fixed categories are often arbitrary. A book on women in California’s lettuce fields might be called a work of gender history, but could just as easily be useful to labor or environmental historians. Consequently, the bibliography is of greatest utility when considered as a whole.

Environment in the West

Adams, John, Jr. Damming the Colorado: The Rise of the Lower Colorado River Authority, 1933-1939. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1990.

Clements, Kendrick A. "Politics and the Park: San Francisco’s Fight for Hetch Hetchy, 1908-1913." Pacific Historical Review 48 (1979): 185-215.

_______. Hoover, Conservation, and Consumerism: Engineering the Good Life. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2000.

Dilsaver, Larry M., ed. America’s National Park System: The Critical Documents. Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1992.

Dilsaver, Larry, and Douglas H. Strong. "Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks: One Hundred Years of Preservation and Resource Management." California History 69 (summer 1990): 98-117.

Elkind, Sarah S. "Industry and Water Distribution in California: The East Bay Municipal Utility District, 1920-1930." Environmental History Review 18 (winter 1994): 63-88.

Engel, Leonard, ed. The Big Empty: Essays on Western Landscapes as Narrative. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1994.

Fiege, Mark. Irrigated Eden: The Making of an Agricultural Landscape in the American West. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999.

Harvey, Mark W.T. "North Dakota, the Northern Plains, and the Missouri Valley Authority." North Dakota History 59 (summer 1992): 28-39.

Hoffman, Abraham. Vision or Villainy: Origins of the Owens Valley-Los Angeles Water Controversy. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1981.

Kaufman, Polly Welts. National Parks and the Woman’s Voice: A History. 1st ed. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1997.

Kuletz, Valerie. The Tainted Desert: Environmental Ruin in the American West. New York: Routledge, 1998.

Langston, Nancy. Forest Dreams, Forest Nightmares: The Paradox of Old Growth in the Inland West. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1995.

Lookingbill, Brad D. Dust Bowl, USA: Depression America and the Ecological Imagination, 1929-1941. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2001.

Muir, John. "The Hetch Hetchy Valley: A National Question." Sierra Club Bulletin 16(5) (1910): 263-69.

Nash, Roderick. "John Muir, William Kent, and the Conservation Schism." Pacific Historical Review 36 (November 1967): 423-33.

Pisani, Donald J. From the Family Farm to Agribusiness: The Irrigation Crusade in California and the West, 1850-1931. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984.

Pyne, Steven. How the Canyon Became Grand: A Short History. New York: Viking, 1998.

Rajala, Richard A. Clearcutting the Pacific Rainforest: Production, Science, and Regulation. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1988.

Robbins, William G. Landscapes of Promise: The Oregon Story, 1800-1940. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1997.

Robbins, William G. and Foster, James C. Land in the American West: Private Claims and the Common Good. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000.

Schrepfer, Susan. The Fight to Save the Redwoods: A History of Environmental Reform, 1917-1978. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1983.

Stegner, Wallace. The American West as Living Space. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1987.

White, Richard. Land Use, Environment, and Social Change: The Shaping of Island County, Washington. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1980.

Worster, Donald. An Unsettled Country: Changing Landscapes of the American West. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1994.

_______. Dust Bowl: The Southern Plains in the 1930s. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979.

_______. Rivers of Empire: Water, Aridity, and the Growth of the American West. New York: Pantheon, 1985.

Wyckoff, William. Creating Colorado: The Making of a Western American Landscape, 1860-1940. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999.

Labor in the West

Byrkit, James. Forging the Copper the Collar: Arizona’s Labor Management War of 1901-1921. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1982.

Daniel, Cletus. Bitter Harvest: A History of California Farmworkers, 1870-1941. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1981.

Danysk, Cecilia. Hired Hands: Labour and the Development of Prairie Agriculture, 1880-1930. Toronto, Ontario: McClelland & Stewart, 1995.

Dubofsky, Melvyn. We Shall Be All: A History of the Industrial Workers of the World, abridged edition. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000.

Friday, Chris. Organizing Asian American Workers: The Pacific Coast Canned Salmon Industry, 1870-1942. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994.

Galarza, Ernesto. Farm workers and Agribusiness in California, 1947-1960. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1977.

Gregory, James. American Exodus: The Dust Bowl Migration and Okie Culture in California. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

Isern, Thomas D. Bull Threshers and Bindlestiffs: Harvesting and Threshing on the North American Plains. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1990.

Jameson, Elizabeth. All That Glitters: Class, Conflict, and Community in Cripple Creek. Urbana: university of Illinois Press, 1998.

McWilliams, Carey. Factories in the Field: The Story of Migratory Farm Labor in California. Santa Barbara: Peregrine Publishers, 1971.

Mercier, Laurie. Anaconda: Labor, Community, and Culture in Montana’s Smelter City. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001.

Mellinger, Philip J. Race and Labor in Western Copper: The Fight for Equality, 1896-1918. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1995.

Mitchell, Don. The Lie of the Land: Migrant Workers and the California Landscape. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996.

Nelson, Bruce. Workers on the Waterfront: Seamen, Longshoremen, and Unionism in the 1930s. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988.

Peck, Gunther. Reinventing Free Labor: Padrones and Immigrant Workers in the North American West, 1880-1930. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Ruiz, Vicki. Cannery Women, Cannery Lives: Mexican Women, Unionization, and the California Food Processing Industry, 1930-1950. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1987.

Schwantes, Carlos Arnaldo. Hard Traveling: A Portrait of Work Life in the New Northwest. Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press, 1994.

Sellars, Nigel Anthony. Oil, Wheat, and Wobblies: The Industrial Workers of the World in Oklahoma, 1905-1930. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1998.

Weber, Devra. Dark Sweat, White Gold: California Farmworkers, Cotton, and the New Deal. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.

Women in the West

Most studies on this subject have been set squarely in the 19th century and are therefore not listed here. See, however, your books by Jameson & Armitage and Nash & Etulain for further bibliographies of numerous excellent journal articles.

Armitage, Susan and Jameson, Elizabeth, editors. The Women’s West. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987.

Blackwelder, Julia Kirk. Women of the Depression: Caste and Culture in San Antonio, 1929-1939. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1984.

Glenn, Evelyn Nakano. Issei, Nisei, War Bride: Three Generations of Japanese American Women in Domestic Service. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1986.

Grant, Cynthia Tucker. Prophetic Sisterhood: Liberal Women Ministers of the Frontier, 1880-1930. Boston: Beacon Press, 1990.

Jameson, Elizabeth. All That Glitters: Class, Conflict, and Community in Cripple Creek. Urbana: university of Illinois Press, 1998.

Lindgren, H. Elaine. Land in Her Own Name: Women as Homesteaders in North Dakota. Fargo: North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies, North Dakota State University, 1991.

Marti, Donald. Women of the Grange: Mutuality and Sisterhood in Rural America, 1866-1920. Westport, CN: Greenwood Press, 1991.

Matsumoto, Valerie. Farming the Home Place: A Japanese American Community in California, 1919-1982. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993.

Mercier, Laurie. Anaconda: Labor, Community, and Culture in Montana’s Smelter City. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001.

Pascoe, Peggy. Relations of Rescue: The Search for Female Moral Authority in the American West, 1874-1939. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Ruiz, Vicki. Cannery Women, Cannery Lives: Mexican Women, Unionization, and the California Food Processing Industry, 1930-1950. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1987.

Yung, Judy. Unbound Feet: A Social History of Chinese Women in San Francisco. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

Cities in the West

Abbott, Carl. Greater Portland: Urban Life and Landscape in the Pacific Northwest. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001.

_______. The Metropolitan Frontier: Cities in the Modern West. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1993.

Barth, Gunther. Instant Cities: Urbanization and the Rise of San Francisco and Denver. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Bottles, Scott. Los Angeles and the Automobile: The Making of the Modern City. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987.

Brechin, Gray. Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999.

Davis, Mike. City of Quartz. New York: Vintage, 1992.

Findlay, John M. Magic Lands: Western Cityscapes and American Culture After 1940. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992.

Fogelson, Robert M. The Fragmented Metropolis: Los Angeles, 1850-1930. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967.

Garcia, Richard A. Rise of the Mexican American Middle Class: San Antonio, 1929-1941. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1991.

Gomez, Arthur R. Quest for the Golden Circle: The Four Corners and the Metropolitan West, 1945-1970. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1994.

Johnson, Marilynn S. The Second Gold Rush: Oakland and the East Bay in World War II. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

Larsen, Lawrence H. The Urban West at the End of the Frontier. Lawrence: The Regents Press of Kansas, 1978.

Lotchin, Roger. Fortress California, 1910-1961: From Warfare to Welfare. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

MacDonald, Norbert. Distant Neighbors: A Comparative History of Seattle and Vancouver. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1987.

Mullins, William H. The Depression and the Urban West Coast, 1929-1933: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1991.

Nash, Gerald D. The American West in the Twentieth Century: A Short History of an Urban Oasis. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1973.

Robbins, William G. Colony and Empire: The Capitalist Transformation of the American West. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1994.

Sanchez, George. Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture, and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900-1945. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Sandweiss, Eric. St. Louis: The Evolution of an American Urban Landscape. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2001.

Starr, Kevin. Material Dreams: Southern California Through the 1920s. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.