New Perspectives on THE WEST
The Program People Places Events Resources Lesson Plans Quiz

New Perspectives on THE WEST pioneers a new dimension in educational outreach support. Designed to complement THE WEST, the site assembles many of the documentary materials that went into the making of this landmark series and highlights the new perspectives it affords on this much-surveyed part of our past.

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This unique educational resource is made possible by General Motors Corporation as part of its commitment to sharing the American experience through outreach programming that meets the needs of today's students.

Developed in response to students' enthusiasm for the interactive environment of the Internet, it brings our nation's frontier heritage into contact with the technological frontier of our own day, offering educators a valuable tool for stimulating research, discovery and intellectual growth. Together with the documentary series that is its foundation, New Perspectives on THE WEST can help students -- and all with an interest in this region's fabled history -- see beyond the stereotypes that still obscure our view of the American West and begin to recognize how profoundly the West still shapes our experience as Americans today.

Explore the West

New Perspectives on THE WEST offers the opportunity to take a guided tour through the history of the American West, following in the footsteps of filmmakers Ken Burns and Stephen Ives, or to strike out across this historical landscape on one's own. Apart from the guided tour, the web site does not present a narrative history of the West. Instead, it presents the elements of Western history -- profiles, documents, images -- and encourages visitors to link these into patterns of historical meaning for themselves. Hyperlinks throughout the site are designed to facilitate this process of discovery, while at the same time providing access to background information for anyone hoping to learn more about incidents portrayed in THE WEST.

The five main sections of New Perspectives on THE WEST are:


The Program

Based on the eight-part documentary series, THE WEST, this episode-by-episode multimedia survey features much of the commentary by historians and other Western authorities who appear in the series, as well as a selection from the archival images and texts that bring the stories told in THE WEST so vividly to life. Throughout this section, visitors will find hyperlinks inviting them to make a detour for more detailed information about people, places and events encountered along the way.


People In the West

An interactive biographical dictionary of the many historical figures featured in THE WEST, including both the most celebrated and many who remain obscure. All linked personal names throughout the site lead to biographical profiles within this section.


Places in the West

An interactive map that serves as a gateway to more detailed archival maps and information on historical sites and geographical features presented in THE WEST. Also included here are maps tracing expeditions, paths of migration and routes of commerce across the region. All linked place names throughout the site lead to maps or other information within this section.


Events In the West

An interactive timeline tracing events portrayed in THE WEST as well as many contemporaneous events that helped shape the region's history. Internal hyperlinks are provided to help one follow particular lines of historical development from year to year. In addition, there are hyperlinks to material in other sections that can lend context to a specific event. All linked dates throughout the site lead to entries within the timeline.



A storehouse of documentary information, including many of the journals, memoirs, autobiographies, reports and letters quoted in THE WEST, as well as many of the rare photographs featured in the series. These materials are organized in chronological order to correspond with the episode of THE WEST in which they are mentioned or appear. Texts have been transcribed so they can be read through a web browser or downloaded for output through a word processor. Images are presented in thumbnail-size for easy browsing; clicking any thumbnail will bring a full-screen size version of the image into view. All linked images and documentary quotations throughout the site lead to sources within the archives.

Beyond these core sections, New Perspectives on THE WEST also offers:

Links to the West

A selection of Internet resources on the history of the American West, including many universities, state information agencies, state historical societies and Native American organizations.

Meet the Makers of the West

A chance to join Ken Burns and Stephen Ives behind the scenes, and to learn more about the many talented men and women who contributed to the project.

Test Your Knowledge of the West

A small collection of interactive games and puzzles designed to help visitors become familiar with the resources of the web site and with a variety of Western lore.

Lesson Plans

A section filled with fun and unique ideas to teach about THE WEST

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