Bear River Massacre Research: Secondary & Primary Sources

Looking at the January 1863 tragic event through the eyes of period secondary sources like newspapers, as well as contemporary scholarly analysis

Help with research

Moore, & Everett, E. (1871). The Rebellion record: A diary of American events, with documents,
narratives, illustrative incidents, poetry, etc. (Vol. 6). D. Van Nostrand.

See Page 468, Battle at Bear River, W.T. in the HathiTrust

When scholars look at events like the Bear River Massacre in January, 1863, digitization of newspapers, diaries and myriad secondary sources enable us to see and analyze different points of view.  We also keenly analyze rhetorical strategies of those in control of narratives with newspapers, congressional records and publishing of the era.  This guide will be growing as more resources are found and is to be considered a starting point for your research. 
-Dale the Librarian at


In the 19th century, newspapers could represent the whole world for its readership, even in big cities.  With digitized paper collections in the library, let's take a look to see how the narrative emerged in the time immediately following January, 1863.

American Indian Newspapers (varies)
Army and Navy Journal (1863-1876)
Denver Post Archive (1894-present)
Los Angeles Times Archive (1881-1993)
New York Times Historical Newspaper (1851-2016)
San Francisco Chronicle Archive (1865-present)

Utah Newspapers Digital Archive 

California Digital Newspaper Collection 
Colorado Historic Newspapers 
Historic Oregon Newspapers 
Washington Digital Newspapers 
Wyoming Digital Newspaper Collection 

Contemporaneous (happened at the same time) Sources
As you know, books were king in libraries and that's a great place to start.  You can find new histories, but let's focus on the 19th century stuff.  In any of the following, search in the "advanced search" and limit to 19th century, or even tighter date ranges.

Marriott Library Catalog Advanced Search
HathiTrust (books -all of the books)
note: google Ngrams can show trends in dates!
(scholarly articles from 1700s-present)

RECOMMENDED DATABASES for contemporary scholarship
Academic Search Premiere
ProQuest Newsstand (Utah papers (and many other U.S. papers))
NOTE: this is a great place to find film and book reviews, just search for "the title of the book" in quote marks
America: History & Life 

Utah Historical Quarterly  | Dale's Quick Tips on How to Search UHQ 
Western Historical Quarterly also in JSTOR 
NOTE: the two journals listed above are indexed in: America: History & Life 

Primary Sources (coming soon!)
Archives (aka. special collections, historical societies, etc.) are typically major holdings of materials (like letters, diaries, photographs, manuscripts -even audio and video recordings) that are preserved for their cultural and/or historic value.  For example, the olympics 2002 organizing committee produced a huge amount of documentation and it is now housed in our collections.  Some things are exciting (like an ancient cunieform tablet) and some are mundane (a page from a person's daily planner).  Note: many of these have materials that haven't been digitized and made available online -contact the library in question if you see something interesting.

Find more archives on Google by searching:
oral history:bear river massacre
diary:battle of bear river

Primary & Secondary Sources

Primary Source:
First hand experience (they were there at the event/time/place)
interviews, account, actual writing (like a diary), photographs, video, etc.

Secondary Source:
Second hand experience -they weren't there, but are;
describing, discussing, interpreting, analyzing, evaluating, summarizing the experience of someone at the event/time/place/etc.

Keywords to try out:

"battle on bear river"

"battle at bear river"

"battle of bear river"

"bear river battle"
"bear river massacre"

Chief Sagwitch

California Volunteers

Patrick Edward Connor

Colonel Conner

as you find one search works better than others -write it down and keep a record of where you have searched.  This will help you keep track of your research, but also help you know when you're done :-)

Citation Help

Citation Styles gettin' you down?  Here's my top picks for 'Citation Management':

(how to use NoodleTools)

EndNote Basic
(how to use EndNote Basic)

(how to use Zotero)

Subject Guide

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Dale Larsen

I love to help with your research: from just seeing the assignment, to wrapping up with citation management -drop me a line or come by 1726C on the first floor of the Marriott Library

Send me an e-mail -I'd love to hear from you!

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