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Indian Warriors and Pioneer Mothers: American Identity and the Closing of the Frontier in Public Monuments, 1890-1930

Scolari, Paul Michael (2005) Indian Warriors and Pioneer Mothers: American Identity and the Closing of the Frontier in Public Monuments, 1890-1930. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh.

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    Abstract

    At the end of the 19th century, Americans heralded the end of the westward march across the continent. The West had been won. The historian Frederick Jackson Turner put it best when in 1893 he proclaimed:"And now, four centuries from the discovery of America, at the end of a hundred years of life under the Constitution, the frontier has gone, and with its going has closed the first period of American history."Long understood as a geographically remote wilderness where the epic struggle between "civilized" and "savage" would determine the fate of America's future, suddenly the frontier defined the nation's past. Previous scholars, in examining the work of artists, writers, entertainers, and others, have explored how certain individuals fashioned a nostalgic legacy of western expansion at this moment in the nation's history.My dissertation charts new territory in this field by exploring how Americans nationwide fashioned a legacy of western expansion in an assemblage of works of art neglected until now, sculptural monuments erected in public space. In so doing, it provides a fresh understanding of the nation's defining legend, the myth of the frontier, and how this myth corresponds to the history upon which it is based.By employing the Smithsonian Institution American Art Museum Inventory of American Sculpture to examine the entire range of public monuments commemorating western expansion from 1890-1930, my study provides an unprecedented synthesis on this topic. Inventory research revealed one striking pattern--monuments focused overwhelmingly on two figures, the Indian and the pioneer. It also led to one surprising finding--while represented as combatants in the battle for the continent in the 19th century, both figures would be remembered heroically in the wake of western expansion, each the foundation upon which citizens would construct American identities in the early-20th century.Thus, in a series of case studies complementing my Smithsonian Inventory research, my dissertation examines the life of two mythic American figures, the Indian and the pioneer, and how these figures were used to fashion a legacy of western expansion in a rich array of artifacts including public sculptures, minted coins, and memorial highways.


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    Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
    ETD Committee:
    ETD Committee TypeCommittee MemberEmail
    Committee ChairSavage, Kirk
    Committee MemberMcCloskey, Barbara
    Committee MemberGlazener, Nancy
    Committee MemberSmith, Terry
    Title: Indian Warriors and Pioneer Mothers: American Identity and the Closing of the Frontier in Public Monuments, 1890-1930
    Status: Unpublished
    Abstract: At the end of the 19th century, Americans heralded the end of the westward march across the continent. The West had been won. The historian Frederick Jackson Turner put it best when in 1893 he proclaimed:"And now, four centuries from the discovery of America, at the end of a hundred years of life under the Constitution, the frontier has gone, and with its going has closed the first period of American history."Long understood as a geographically remote wilderness where the epic struggle between "civilized" and "savage" would determine the fate of America's future, suddenly the frontier defined the nation's past. Previous scholars, in examining the work of artists, writers, entertainers, and others, have explored how certain individuals fashioned a nostalgic legacy of western expansion at this moment in the nation's history.My dissertation charts new territory in this field by exploring how Americans nationwide fashioned a legacy of western expansion in an assemblage of works of art neglected until now, sculptural monuments erected in public space. In so doing, it provides a fresh understanding of the nation's defining legend, the myth of the frontier, and how this myth corresponds to the history upon which it is based.By employing the Smithsonian Institution American Art Museum Inventory of American Sculpture to examine the entire range of public monuments commemorating western expansion from 1890-1930, my study provides an unprecedented synthesis on this topic. Inventory research revealed one striking pattern--monuments focused overwhelmingly on two figures, the Indian and the pioneer. It also led to one surprising finding--while represented as combatants in the battle for the continent in the 19th century, both figures would be remembered heroically in the wake of western expansion, each the foundation upon which citizens would construct American identities in the early-20th century.Thus, in a series of case studies complementing my Smithsonian Inventory research, my dissertation examines the life of two mythic American figures, the Indian and the pioneer, and how these figures were used to fashion a legacy of western expansion in a rich array of artifacts including public sculptures, minted coins, and memorial highways.
    Date: 06 June 2005
    Date Type: Completion
    Defense Date: 01 April 2005
    Approval Date: 06 June 2005
    Submission Date: 12 April 2005
    Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
    Patent pending: No
    Institution: University of Pittsburgh
    Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
    Refereed: Yes
    Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
    URN: etd-04122005-000255
    Uncontrolled Keywords: Cyrus Dallin; Indian Head nickel; James Earle Fraser; Kit Carson Pioneer Monument; Madonna of the Trail; signal of peace
    Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History of Art and Architecture
    Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 14:35
    Last Modified: 27 Apr 2012 13:22
    Other ID: http://etd.library.pitt.edu/ETD/available/etd-04122005-000255/, etd-04122005-000255

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