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Saints, Sinners, and Scoundrels: A New Look at the Overland Emigration of 1846

The Western frontier has always held a special fascination for Americans, be they explorers, historians, or individuals out to seek their fortunes. Almost as soon as Europeans began to settle in America, they began pushing toward the Pacific Ocean, and their journeys have left a distinctive mark on American culture and ideals. Will Bagley has a special appreciation for the American spirit of motion and exploration. In 1969, the writer took a raft down the Mississippi River from Rock Island, Illinois to New Orleans, Louisiana. His continuing interest in ways west has led him to a directorship of the Oregon-California Trails Association. His Athenaeum lecture will be based on original research and will address such issues as America's westward expansion and the role of the government in promoting such movement.

Will Bagley has edited such books on western migration as A Road from El Dorado: The 1848 Trail Journal of Ephraim Green (1991) and Frontiersman: Abner Blackburn's Narrative (1992). The writer and historian has also worked to update Dale Morgan's West from Fort Bridger (1994) and contributed to Peter DeLafosse's Trailing the Pioneers: A Guide to Utah's Emigrant Trails (1994). He has written for the Western Historical Quarterly, Utah Historical Quarterly, Salt Lake Tribune, and Overland Journal. Bagley's current projects include Kingdom in the West: The Mormons and the American Frontier, for which he will be series editor; a biography of California pioneer Samuel Brannen; and a history of the Mountain Meadows Massacre.