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Crucibles of Cultures



Frontier, in its primary meaning, is the front side. As the cultural face of North America’s past, frontiers were the terrains where defining encounters occurred among peoples on the continent. However controversial, Frederick Jackson Turner’s thesis of a century ago contained a seminal insight in focusing on the “edges” of Euro-American settlement as formative zones for understanding American history. In the last quarter of the twentieth century, historians have revisited the front side of early America’s past and revealed multiple worlds in contact, conflict, and exchange with each other. They have pushed beyond traditional frameworks to explore frontiers as creative arenas, producing new forms of social and poilitical organization. To probe the boundaries of current research and to move the front line of scholarship forward, the Institute of Early American History and Culture, The Historic New Orleans Collection, and the Newberry Library are jointly sponsoring “Crucibles of Cultures: North American Frontiers, 1750–1820.”