Children of the Western Plains: The Nineteenth-Century Experience
On December 7, 1828, Lewis Bissell Dougherty was born at Cantonment Leavenworth, the military post of the Missouri River. For the rest of his life, Dougherty carried a footnote to his name: he was one of the first white children to be born in Kansas. These "first" children came to be celebrated as white America's first steps onto the Western frontier. In Children of the Western Plains, Marilyn Holt rescues the experience of children from the usual adult perspectives on Western history. Her book is the first in a new series that will emphasize the experience of children during different times and at different locales in the American past. The books will be abundantly illustrated with black-and-white photographs and drawings. They will take advantage of primary source materials, reminiscences, documents, and secondary works in telling the story of American children throughout the nation's history. In Ms. Holt's book, she explores what life was like for youngsters who lived on the Great Plains in nineteenth-century frontier life. She is especially interested in how they were raised, how they were influenced by their environment, and what sort of independence they experienced while growing up. Her chapters address a breadth of experiences and perceptions: why families came to the Great Plains and where they decided to settle; how families and communities were organized for education, work, and play; how health care, accidents, and mortality affected childhoods; and what children experienced outside the home. As much as possible, she lets the children speak for themselves. This is their story. With 25 black-and-white photographs.