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American Women: Resources from the Manuscript Collections

Western Frontier

Church Buttes
Russell, Andrew J., photographer. Church Buttes - near Fort Bridger, Wyoming Territory. Between 1868 and 1869. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Among the military collections described in Many Nations: A Library of Congress Resource Guide for the Study of Indian and Alaska Native Peoples of the United States are several that touch upon women's experiences in the West.

Elizabeth Burt (b. 1839), a volunteer nurse during the Civil War, married soldier Andrew Sheridan Burt and accompanied him throughout his long army career to various military outposts on the western frontier. A picture of their life together, including information on their relations with Native Americans, can be pieced together by reading Burt's letters to her daughter and the typescript copy of her autobiographical account, “An Army Wife's Forty Years in the Service, 1862-1902,” contained in her papers (60 items; 1797-1917).

Diaries of Sadie Pollock Carlton list her monthly expenses and describe her activities living with her husband Caleb Henry Carlton (2,500 items; 1831-1954; bulk 1844-1916) in army forts in Nebraska, Texas, and South Dakota between 1879 and 1894.

In letters to his father and sister, army officer John Porter Hatch (150 items; 1843-68) described the hardships of a frontier assignment and the pain of being separated from his wife.

Manuscript Resources Referenced

The following collection titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content, including finding aids for the collections, are included when available.