First American West (1750-1820)


Drawing from many historical collections at the Filson Historical Society, the First American West incorporates maps, diaries, letters, ledgers, and objects. The collection documents the travels of the first Europeans to enter the trans-Appalachian West, the maps tracing their explorations, their relations with Native Americans, and their theories about the region's mounds and other ancient earthworks. Naturalists and other scientists describe Western bird life and bones of prehistoric animals. Books and letters document the new settlers' migration and acquisition of land, navigation down the Ohio River, planting of crops, and trade in tobacco, horses, and whiskey.

The First American West: The Ohio River Valley, 1750-1820 consists of 15,000 pages of original historical material documenting the land, peoples, exploration, and transformation of the trans-Appalachian West from the mid-eighteenth to the early nineteenth century.

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Collection Items

Drawing of coffee nut tree seed pod, 1816<br /><br />
A sketch of the coffee nut tree seed pod from the last page of a letter from Dr. Charles Wilkins Short to Dr. Daniel Drake.

Letter from Eleanor Clark, 9 February 1798
Letter from Eleanor E. Clark requesting the recipient to use the enclosed linen to make a border for a bed quilt.

Compagnie de Colonisation Americaine, stock certificate, 1 July 1820
French stock certificate for one share in the Compagnie de Colonisation Americaine (American Colonization Company). Share is for 100 acres of land in Virginia and Kentucky for an investment of 1300 francs. Yields six percent annual interest.…
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