African Americans: the Rural Western Experience

November 6 – UNC Center at Centerra 


Explore highlights of the African-American experience in the “Old West” during post-civil war America into the early 20th century. As slaves gained freedom, racial issues marched through the courts, and blacks rose to prominence in all professions, the United States added 13 Western states to the union. Yet, official history was being largely written in the East. Use Library of Congress primary sources to provide the national backdrop and local resources to zero in on African American in the West – The primary focus will be on the settlement of Dearfield, Colorado, which was founded 100 years ago this year. 

Key questions:

What factors defined the African-American experience in the US? 

How was the experience in the West unique? (how did the land/landscape play a role?)


8:30 a.m. - Welcome - Introduction/overview (continental breakfast items)

Timeline: Topic constraints and context 

Mapping and Migration 

Break/move to computer Lab

Searching and analyzing Library of Congress website and Primary Sources

Return to classroom: Revisit key question; focus on classroom applications


Focus on the West: Buffalo Soldiers, black cowboys, homesteading and settling the West

Hear from UNC experts on the Dearfield settlement:

Dr. George Junne. Professor of African American studies and Jay Trask, Archivist, James Michener Library 


Continue interaction with Dr. Junne and Jay Trask

Wrap-up: review assignment; prizes, evaluation


Current News

New resource: Book Backdrops developed by our summer institue participants.

Calendar of Events:

Coming this Fall 2015

Transforming America: America in the Gilded Age (Date to be announced soon)

Other offerings this fall will be Essentials Exploration and a Special Topics workhop focused on WWII