William H. Goetzmann, Pulitzer-Winning Historian, Dies at 80





William H. Goetzmann, who in a Pulitzer Prize-winning book overturned the idea of Western exploration in the 19th century as a series of random thrusts into the hinterland, finding instead that it was a far more systematic effort, died on Tuesday at his home in Austin, Tex. He was 80.

The cause was congestive heart failure, his wife, Mewes, said.

Mr. Goetzmann’s book “Exploration and Empire: The Explorer and the Scientist in the Winning of the American West” (Knopf, 1966) synthesized a vast repository of diaries, reports, monographs and scholarly studies in presenting a comprehensive picture of what he called the American government’s “programmed” information gathering.

For example, he wrote, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were instructed to collect data not only on transportation routes and trapping grounds in their epic expedition but also on Indian tribes and available natural resources that might affect future settlement.

The book won the Pulitzer Prize for history in 1967 as well as the Francis Parkman Prize, awarded by the Society of American Historians.....



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