skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 119360 Find in a Library
Title: Violence and Lawlessness on the Western Frontier (From Violence in America, Volume 1: The History of Crime, P 122-145, 1989, Ted Robert Gurr, ed. -- See NCJ-119355)
Author(s): R D McGrath
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 24
Sponsoring Agency: Sage Publications, Inc
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
Sale Source: Sage Publications, Inc
2455 Teller Road
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
United States of America
Type: Historical Overview
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The common view that contemporary violence and lawlessness in the United States results from the nation's frontier heritage is incorrect, because data from the two frontier mining towns of Aurora (Nevada) and Bodie (California) show that both towns experienced far less lawlessness than do most cities and towns in the United States today.
Abstract: Aurora and Bodie were typical frontier mining towns, experiencing booms followed by decline and bust. Men outnumbered women 10 to 1, much of the population was transient, and half of the population was foreign-born. However, robbery of individuals, burglary, and theft rarely occurred, and rape seems to have been nonexistent. The homicides that occurred almost always resulted from gunfights between willing combatants. The old, the weak, the innocent, the young, and the female were not the targets of violent men. In fact, all people in those categories would have been far safer in Aurora or Bodie than they are today in any major United States city or in most smaller cities and towns. In addition, the difference does not rest on the nature of the criminal justice system, because law enforcement officers often had a casual approach to their job and some operated on both sides of the law. The armed citizenry, full or nearly full employment, religion, and a collective sense of optimism may have been more effective deterrents to theft offenses. Figures and reference notes.
Main Term(s): Crime patterns
Index Term(s): California; Nevada; Rural crime; Violence
Note: *This document is currently unavailable from NCJRS.
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.