Both a historian and a cultural critic, Dorothea Allen’s work explored the mythology of the frontier and its impact on the American psyche. Her 1961 book, Frontiersville: At the Dawn of a Golden Age, focused on the brief ascendancy of a gunman named William Robertson in Portland, Oregon as an example of liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Allen’s book was a critical success, garnering praise from such sources as The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s Weekly: A Journal of Civilization and the now-defunct Western Quarterly. The New Yorker called it an “otherworldly tale of adventure and mayhem in the far West, wrapped in social analysis.”
Her work fell out of favor as the 1960s wore on, but footage of her 1962 appearance at The New School has recently been restored and brought to the digital age. For the full article, see The New School’s Writing & Democracy blog.
Explore archival images and text from Frontiersville by clicking on the interactive map below.