Monday, May 20, 2013

Homestead Act: Books about Pioneers

On this day in 1862, President Lincoln signed the first of the Homestead Acts into law. These acts opened up the west to settlement by white Americans.


Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: The Illustrated Edition: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown. We must include this one, for the story of Westward Expansion is also the story of American Indian displacement.

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Lawson. When her uncle dies and leaves her his homesteading claim, Hattie leaves Iowa for Montana to prove it up. An orphan, Hattie is tired for being bounced between various relatives, but proving the claim in roder to keep it is hard for anyone, let alone a teenaged girl living by herself. Follow it with Hattie Ever After.

The Shrouding Woman by Loretta Ellsworth. After her mother dies, Evie's Aunt Flo comes to stay. Aunt Flo is a Shrouding Woman, a woman who cleans bodies and prepares them for burial, shepherding them from this world to the next, and wants Evie to apprentice with her. But Evie wants no more to do with death and resents this woman who surrounds herself with it.


Light on the Prairie: Solomon D. Butcher, Photographer of Nebraska's Pioneer Days by Nancy Plain. Solomon D. Butcher was a photographer in Nebraska as lands were being snatched up after the Homestead Act passed. This book collects his photographs of the pioneer families and their houses and possessions, offering a wonderful visual record of their lives.

Women of the Frontier: 16 Tales of Trailblazing Homesteaders, Entrepreneurs, and Rabble-Rousers by Brandon Marie Miller. This title profiles sixteen women, telling their stories by using their letters, journals, and other primary sources to make their stories live again.

This Life Is in Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres, and a Family Undone by Melissa Coleman. The memoir details Coleman's childhood in the 70s on a homestead in Maine, where her parents lived a self-sufficient life off the land. But life was hard and filled with great tragedy.

The Weekend Homesteader: A Twelve-Month Guide to Self-Sufficiency by Anna Hess. The latest iteration of homesteading doesn't require several acres of land, and doesn't lead to complete self-sufficiency. Hess's book gives many projects for readers to dip their toes into the homesteading lifestyle. Written for adults, many of these projects are ones teens can do.

What books on homesteading would you recommend?

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