Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis


History & Political Science


The use of film as a source of history has been highly contested since the creation of narrative film in the beginning of the twentieth century. While there is no doubt that film cannt be used as a source for the accurate account of an event or an individual, historians are slowly accepting the role that films play as "cultural documents." The benefit of film in the study of popular memory and social and cultural history is best seen in the study of the development of an individual, event, or ideal over time. Because of this, Jesse James is an ideal object of study as he has been depicted in over forty films in the past century. Analyzing the differing adaptations of four key films, this study works to critically assess varying depictions of the James story and James himself; as well as the causes behind his enduring success as an American hero and arbiter of vigilante justice in spite of the tension between myth and reality within the Jesse James legend.

Subject Area

Outlaws-- West (U.S.)--History, History in motion pictures

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.