Black families coming West in covered wagons established self-sufficient all-Black towns and filled every job from barber to teacher, doctor to state legislator.
“‘Aunt Viney’ Moulton had been a slave. In 1867, she crossed the plains, walking barefoot part of the way. Tired of walking, she stopped in Boise and stayed. In 1878, she became the only black member of the Boise Presbyterian Church.” – From Idaho Ebony: The Afro-American Presence in Idaho State History, by Mamie O. Oliver
Nearly a third of the cowboys who helped build the American West were black.
“Black history in Idaho began with York, the black man who came west with Lewis and Clark in 1805. After York, there came black trappers, fur traders, miners, soldiers, railroad workers, horse trainers, and rodeo riders. Idaho never had a lot of black people. Records showed only 60 black people in Idaho in 1870, and only 53 in 1880.” – From Idaho Ebony: The Afro-American Presence in Idaho State History, by Mamie O. Oliver
Blacks were also military heroes. It is a little-known fact that credit for Teddy Roosevelt’s victory at San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War belongs to the all-black tenth cavalry.
Henry Parker, a black mine owner, made one of the first gold discoveries in Idaho Springs, Colorado.
- Oliver, Mamie O. Blacks in Idaho’s white press : 1863-1916. Boise, Idaho: Mamie O. Oliver, 2001.
- Oliver, Mamie O. Idaho Ebony: The Afro-American Presence in Idaho State History. [Place of publication not identified] : [publisher not identified], 1990. Idaho state centennial ed.
- Mercier, Laurie. “Idaho’s African Americans.” Idaho’s Ethnic Heritage Historical Overviews v.1
- Odom, Francis P. A century of quiet accomplishment. [Place of publication not identified]: [publisher not identified], 1991.
- White, William A.. Living on the south side of the tracks : the River Street digital history project and Boise, Idaho. [Boise, Idaho]: [Boise City Department of Arts and History], .
- Idaho State Historic Archives, the Idaho State Historic Preservation Office, Special Collections at the Boise Public Library, and the Albertsons Library at Boise State University. River Street Digital History Project. http://www.riverstreethistory.com/. Accessed January 29, 2019.
- Billington, Monroe Lee, and Roger D Hardaway. African Americans on the western frontier. Niwot: University Press of Colorado, 1998.
- Glasrud, Bruce A., and Michael N. Searles. Buffalo soldiers in the West: a Black soldiers anthology. College Station, Texas: Texas A&M University Press, 2007.
- Katz, William Loren. Black pioneers : an untold story. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers. 1999. 1st ed.
- Katz, William Loren. The Black West: A Documentary and Pictorial History of the African-American Role in the Westward Expansion of the United States. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996.
- Ravage, John W. Black Pioneers: Images of the Black Experience on the North American Frontier. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2008.
- Savage, W. Sherman. Blacks in the West. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1976.
- Katz, William Loren. Eyewitness; the Negro in American history. New York, Pitman Pub. Corp., 1967.
- Taylor, Quintard. In search of the racial frontier : African Americans in the American West, 1528-1990. New York: W.W. Norton, 1998.
- Nugent, Walter T. K. Into the West: the story of its people. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1999.
- Hardaway, Roger D. A narrative bibliography of the African-American frontier : Blacks in the Rocky Mountain West, 1535-1912. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 1995.
- Jepsen, David J., and David J. Norberg. Contested boundaries: a new Pacific Northwest history. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Blackwell, 2017.
Women on the Frontier
- Kathleen Bruÿn, Kathleen. “Aunt” Clara Brown; story of a black pioneer. Boulder Colorado: Pruett Pub. Co., 1970.
- Hine, Darlene Clark Hine; Elsa Barkley Brown; and Rosalyn Terborg-Penn. Black women in America: an historical encyclopedia. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Carlson Pub., 1993.
- Katz, William Loren. Black women of the Old West. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1995.
- Riley,Glenda, and Richard W. Etulain, editors. “Mary Ellen Pleasant,” By grit & grace : eleven women who shaped the American West. Golden, Colorado: Fulcrum Pub., 1997.
- Bolden, Tonya. “Mary Fields,” And not afraid to dare : the stories of ten African-American women. New York: Scholastic, 1998.
- Shirley, Gayle Corbett. “Mary Fields,” More than petticoats : remarkable Montana women. Helena, Montana: Falcon Press, 1995.
- Shirley, Gayle Corbett. “Mattie Castner: Mother of Belt,” More than petticoats : remarkable Montana women. Helena, Montana: Falcon Press, 1995.
- Love, Nat; introduction to the Bison Books edition by Brackette F. Williams. The life and adventures of Nat Love, better known in the cattle country as “Deadwood Dick”. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995. Bison Books ed.
- Love, Nat. Life and adventures of Nat Love. Los Angeles, California, 1907. https://archive.org/details/Ayer247_L85L85_1907. Accessed January 29, 2019.
- Johnson, Cecil. Guts legendary black rodeo cowboy Bill Pickett. Fort Worth, Texas: Summit Group, 1994.
- Durham, Philip; and Everett L. Jones. Negro Cowboys. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1965.
African Americans and Native Americans
- Katz, William Loren. Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage. New York: Atheneum, 1986. 1st ed.
- Wilson, Elinor. Jim Beckwourth: Black Mountain Man and War Chief of the Crows. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1972.
- Beckwourth, Jim; dictated to T.D. Bonner. Mountain Man, Indian Chief: The Life and Adventures of Jim Beckwourth. London, T. Fisher Unwin, 1902. https://archive.org/details/adventuresoflife00beckrich/page/n10. Accessed January 29, 2019.
- Monceaux, Morgan, and Ruth Katcher. My Heroes, My People: African Americans and Native Americans in the West. New York: Frances Foster Books, 1999. 1st ed.
The Frontier Military
- Fowler, Arlen L. The Black Infantry in the West, 1869-1891. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1996, 1971.
- Carroll, John M., editor. The Black Military Experience in the American West. New York: Liveright, 1971 First edition.
- Leckie, William H.The buffalo soldiers; a narrative of the Negro cavalry in the West. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1967.
- Nankivell, John H., editor. The History of the Twenty-Fifth Regiment United States Infantry 1869-1926.
- Glasrud, Bruce A., and Michael N. Searles, editors. Buffalo soldiers in the West: a Black soldiers anthology. College Station, Texas: Texas A&M University Press, 2007. 1st ed.
- “American Daughters: Black Women in the West.” Montana: The Magazine of Western History Spring 1988, pp. 14-27.
- Burton, Art T. “The Legacy of Bass Reeves.” Crisis (The New) May/Jun. 1999, pp. 38-43.
- Dingus, Anne. “Bill Pickett.” Texas Monthly Feb. 1997, p.168.
- “History Alive!” Humanities Jan./Feb. 1998, pp.42-44. – Biddy Mason and Los Angeles
- Oliver, Mamie O. “Boise’s Black Baptists: Heritage, Hope, and Struggle.” Idaho Yesterdays. Volume 40; Number 3, Fall 1996. pages 23-30.
- “Showman Extraordinaire.” Blackfax Summer-Winter 1992, pp.5-8. – Bill Pickett
- Minerbrook, Scott. “The Forgotten Pioneers.” U.S. News & World Report Aug. 8 1994, pp. 53-56.
- African-American Mosaic (Library of Congress)
- Boise Public Library Ethnic History Archive, [stacks] hosted by the Idaho Commission for Libraries
- Idaho Black History Museum
- National Museum of African American History & Culture, Smithsonian Institution
- Resources for African American Research from the National Archives
- Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library
Research and text by Ellen Druckenbrod. Updated by Ronnie Joiner on March 14, 2022.