Chinese drying shrimps and mending nets. San Francisco Bay, California. Beginning in the 19th century, the first major wave of Chinese immigrants began, but the number rose exponentially with people fleeing the political instability in China in the middle of the century. They became laborers in many different industries, such as agriculture and fisheries, and they became a major part of the labor force that built the western part of the First Transcontinental Railroad. Photographed by Charles H. Townsend, ca. 1889. National Archives and Records Administration, 22-FA-148. https://www.archives.gov/research/american-westChinese fishermen, Monterey, California. By the middle of the 19th century, Chinese immigrants who came to the United States in the first wave of immigration were skilled fishermen, and they established successful fishing businesses along the western coast of the United States. Due to the racism against Chinese immigrants at the time, other American and European immigrant fishermen were successful in convincing the government to pass regulations restricting Chinese fishermen’s activity, such as making them pay taxes and forbidding the use of traditional Chinese nets. They also could not re-enter the country after they left, so Chinese fisherman could not go out fishing on their boats further than 3 miles from the coast, which severely impacted their businesses. Many Chinese immigrants abandoned this occupation as a result of these laws. Photographed by Albert Dressler, 1875. California Historical Society. Library of Congress. Wikimedia Commons.Chinese railroad workers on a wood train, Bloomer Cut, a rail passage in California, ca 1860-1870. Chinese laborers made up a large part of the labor force that built the first railroads in the West. Lawrence & Houseworth. The Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project, Stanford University. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/150-years-ago-chinese-railroad-workers-staged-era-s-largest-n774901Buffalo Soldiers. Restored photograph of the 25th infantry buffalo soldiers, Fort Keogh, Montana. Although there were African-American regiments during the Civil War, two cavalry units and two infantry units of African-American soldiers were established in 1866. These units were sent to the West to engage in the Indian Wars of the late nineteenth century. Although racial segregation in the Armed Forces ended in 1948, there were still active regiments of buffalo soldiers until the early 1950s. Photographed by Chr. Barthelmess, 1890. Library of Congress. Wikimedia Commons.Photograph of Cathay Williams. Cathay Williams, a woman who was born into slavery, disguised herself as a man and enlisted in the United States Army in 1866 as a buffalo soldier, the first African-American woman to serve in the Army. She was discharged in 1868 when the army surgeon discovered she was a woman. Unknown photographer. Pinterest.U.S. Infantry parade through Kearney, Nebraska. Unknown photographer, 1888. National Archives and Records Administration, 165-FF-6G-6. https://www.archives.gov/research/american-westThe execution of a soldier of the 8th Infantry, Prescott, Arizona. Unknown photographer, 1877. National Archives and Records Administration, 111-SC-87810. https://www.archives.gov/research/american-westCowgirl standing with horse. This picture on the front of a postcard shows a cowgirl standing with her horse. There is less documentation on the history of women in the West, but what is known is no less fascinating. The women who lived in the West often worked side by side with their male counterparts, farming, ranching, and sometimes contributing to cattle drives. The idea of the cowgirl became very popular by the end of the century with the introduction of cowgirls in Wild West shows. Unknown photographer, ca. 1900-1910. DeGolver Library, Southern Methodist University. Wikimedia Commons.Photograph of Kittie Wilkins, known as the “Horse Queen of Idaho.” Wilkins was a horse trader who was the only American woman whose livelihood depended only on the sale of her horses. She sold 8,000 horses to a buyer who sent them to the British Army to use in the Boer War. Although she was one of the most famous women of the American West, today she is largely unknown. https://www.neh.gov/humanities/2012/marchapril/statement/woman-the-westThe Cowboy. Photographed by John C. H. Grabill, ca. 1888. Library of Congress. Wikimedia Congress.Exterior view of a bath house in Hot Springs, South Dakota. Public baths in the United States were introduced in the 1890s. They were created to promote public health and cleanliness in the time before private bathing became the norm. Photographed by John C. H. Grabill, 1891. Library of Congress. Wikimedia Commons.Interior view, Toll Gate Saloon, Black Hawk, Colorado. Saloons were bars in the American West that served businessmen, trappers, cowboys, laborers, and soldiers. The first saloon was opened in the beginning of the nineteenth century, and by the end of the century, they had risen in popularity. Unknown photographer, 1897. Wikimedia Commons.Faro game in full blast at Orient Saloon in Bisbee, Arizona. Many saloons in the West were not just bars. They also provided places for gambling and prostitution. As saloons began to grow in popularity, a particular saloon culture developed in which saloons provided a gathering space for playing games, singing songs, and political organization. Photographed by C. S. Fly, ca. 1900. National Archives and Records Administration. Wikimedia Commons.Photograph of Wild Bill Hickock, with two Navy Colts and an unsheathed knife, which is probably a prop. James Butler Hickock, also known as “Wild Bill” Hickock, was a frontiersman who was known as a gunfighter, a scout, and a gambler. He has become a mythic figure of the American West, mostly because of the wild stories he told about himself, most of which have never been proven. Mendota, Illinois. Unknown photographer, 1869. Wikipedia.Retouched photograph of Billy the Kid. Billy the Kid was a famous American gunfighter and fugitive who participated in the Lincoln County War (1878-1881), a conflict over ownership of dry goods and cattle industries in the territory that would become New Mexico. Photographed by Ben Wittick, ca. 1880s. Wikipedia Commons.Peace Commissioners in Dodge City, Kansas. Chas. Bennett, W.H. Harris, Wyatt Earp, Luke Short, L. McLean, Bat Masterson, Neal Brown (left to right). Photographed by Camillus S. Fly, ca. 1890. National Archives and Records Administration. https://www.archives.gov/research/american-west#lawBlack Jack Ketchum gets fitted with a new necktie. Tom “Black Jack” Ketchum was a cowboy who became a train robber in the American West. He joined the Hole-in-the-Wall gang that engaged in train robberies. He was convicted of attempted train robbery and sentenced to death by hanging. He was executed in Clayton, New Mexico Territory in 1901. He was the only example of execution for robbing trains in the New Mexico Territory, and his execution was brutal. The rope was made too long, and when he was hanged, he was decapitated. Unknown photographer, 1901. https://www.archives.gov/research/american-west#lawThe lynching of John Heith, Tombstone, Arizona. Heith was executed for a robbery in which four people were killed. Unknown photographer, February 22, 1884. National Archives and Records Administration. https://www.archives.gov/research/american-west#lawGeneral view of Deadwood, Dakota Territory. Present-day Deadwood, South Dakota. Originally a gold rush town, Deadwood, South Dakota is now a registered National Historical Landmark because the architecture from the mid-nineteenth century is so well-preserved. Photographed by S. J. Morrow, 1876. National Archives and Records Administration, 165-FF-2F-15. https://www.archives.gov/research/american-westMountain Mine. A mine in Montana. John C. H. Grabill was a photographer whose work documented life in the American West, including the aftermath of Wounded Knee. Photographed by John C. H. Grabill, 1889.