National Museum of American History Warner Bros. Theater to host Scots and the American West symposium
The Smithsonian will host “Scots in the American West,” a symposium examining the Scottish immigrant experience west of the Mississippi River in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The symposium, which will be held Aug. 8 in the National Museum of American History’s Warner Bros. Theater, is cosponsored by the Smithsonian’s Consortium for Understanding the American Experience and the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.
Scotland and the United States have been linked since the 17th century. In the late 1600s, Glasgow, Scotland, was the European center for the Virginia tobacco trade, and many Scots Presbyterian dissenters in search of religious freedom established their own colonies in South Carolina and New Jersey. In the 1700s, population growth, agricultural modernization and political upheaval in Scotland led to more than 50,000 Scots crossing the Atlantic. As the new American Republic looked westward, many of the earliest pioneers settling the Ohio and Tennessee valleys were of Scots or Scots-Irish descent. In the 1800s, as the United States expanded west across the Mississippi River, Scottish immigrants and their descendants contributed and greatly shaped all phases of this movement.
This symposium will explore the substantial contributions made by Scots and Scots-Americans to the development of the American West and examine how Scottish culture and history shaped these settlers’ experiences. It will offer insight into the immigrant experience and its effect on American culture and society today while also examining the many forces that shaped western expansion.
The Aug. 8 sessions are free and open to the public, but space is limited; RSVP to Consortia@si.edu by Aug. 1.