Shaping the American West

Interactive Video Learning Series

"Shaping the American West" costs $49 per session, and $249 for all six sessions.


"Shaping the American West" is a series of video courses that highlight the personalities who shaped the American West and made it "wild." 

You will connect, via live interactive video conferencing, with museums and national parks throughout the United States to explore the events, discoveries, art, and folklore which have lured people westward. 


I.   Trail of Tears

Trail of TearsProvider: The Hermitage, Home of President Andrew Jackson

Date: Tuesday, September 16

Time: 6:30 PM-7:30 PM

Location: Tyrrell Hall Auditorium

The Trail of Tears is a dark chapter in our nation's history--a direct contradiction of the image of our nation as built on liberty, equality, and justice for all.  Join The Hermitage, Home of President Andrew Jackson, in an interactive examination of the events leading up to the Indian Removal Act, reaching back to the earliest days of America.  See how these events contributed to our nation's treatment of Native Americans, using first-hand accounts of the policies of Presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and Andrew Jackson.  You will also learn about how the discovery of gold near Dalonega, Georgia, culminated in this tragic relocation of thousands of Native Americans.


II.   Train Robbers of the Old West 

Train RobbersProvider: Durham Museum

Date: Tuesday, September 23

Time: 6:30 PM-7:30 PM

Location: Tyrrell Hall Auditorium

You may have seen them in the movies, but now you can learn about the real story behind infamous Outlaws and those who pursued them.  As soon as railroad tracks were laid, outlaws were laying siege to trains.  Trains were the perfect target; they carried money, goods, and passengers with only a few crew members as a line of defense. 

You will hear stories of train heists and outlaw activities, supplemented by original documents, photos, and artifacts usually unavailable to the general public.  You will even take a tour of the original James Gang and Council Bluffs robbery sites.


III.   Surviving the Oregon Trail: What Should We Take? 

Oregon TrailProvider: Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Museum

Date: Tuesday, September 30

Time: 6:30 PM-7:30 PM 

Location: Tyrrell Hall Auditorium

Have you ever imagined what it took to survive the Oregon Trail?  Guided by the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Museum, you can study the equipment and supplies that migrants took with them on their journey.  Using information about the history of the trail, and the hardships that it promised, you can determine which items you would take to survive, and which luxuries you might leave home. 


IV.   Homestead Act of 1862

Homestead ActProvider: Homestead National Monument of America

Date: Tuesday, October 7

Time: 6:30 PM-7:30 PM

Location: Tyrrell Hall Auditorium

American immigration law can cite an ancestry dating back to the early days of our history, and that ancestry is pivotal to an understanding of why our system operates as it does today.  The Homestead National Monument of America will present The Homestead Act of 1862 as a grandfather of immigration law.  This famous piece of land legislation also impacted the lives of U.S. immigrants, changing U.S. attitudes towards immigration.  


V.   Cowboy Close-Up 

Provider: Amon Carter Museum of American Art

Date: Tuesday, October 14

Time: 6:30 PM-7:30 PM

Location: Tyrrell Hall Auditorium

Hardy and self-reliant, many Americans consider the Cowboy to the be the last great figure of American frontier history.  His tragedy is that he was doomed to extinction in the wake of civilization's progress.

During this tour, you will visit the galleries of one of America's premier art museums to examine the photography of Erwin E. Smith, and the painting s and sculpture of Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell.  These pieces breathe life into the American Cowboy of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. 


VI.   Opening the West: From Lewis and Clark to the Oregon Trail

Lewis and ClarkProvider: Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Museum

Date: Tuesday, October 21

Time: 6:30 PM-7:30 PM 

Location: Tyrrell Hall Auditorium

How did the Lewis and Clark Expedition impact Western Migration?  Who followed Lewis and Clark, and why did they brave the American West?  You will be able to explore the realities of the Great Migration along the Oregon Trail, and discover the answers for yourself.