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The Search
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Family Application
This family pasted a photograph of themselves into an old Western book.

A father tells us what he would most enjoy on the Frontier.


Written by Mark Saben, Series Associate Producer
The selection process for FRONTIER HOUSE has to be one of the most challenging I have been involved with during my time in television. Having performed the same role in THE 1900 HOUSE I thought I would be ready for anything FRONTIER HOUSE could throw at me. After a gruelling trawl through over 5,000 applications and visiting all four corners of the United States, taking in 20 states in three months for interviews, I can safely say that I feel we have conducted an exhaustive search for the participants for FRONTIER HOUSE.

What has struck us all on the production team was the outstanding quality of applications for the project. It has been very reassuring to know that this project has such a broad appeal and has seemed to strike a chord with the American people. The opportunity for people to take a covered wagon out West certainly has an appealing romantic notion, but did people really understand the harsh existence that many homesteaders had to endure?

Photo of shawl
This handmade shawl accompanied the application of the woman who made it.
People seemed undeterred by the prospect of building their own log cabin, milking cows, cooking on a woodstove, and ploughing fields. Applications came flooding in from every state in the U.S. The Top five applicant states were New York (373), California (253), Ohio (185), New Jersey (151), and Texas (150). We even had applications from as far a field as England, Czech Republic, France, and Uruguay.

As you might expect, the applications were many and varied, from women willing to conceive and give birth on the frontier to teenagers applying alone because their parents were "too boring" to consider being involved in such an adventure. The more mature applicants were also well represented, with a good number coming in from men and women in their seventies and eighties. Applications came in all manner of different guises: within miniature replica log cabins, on parchment, and more. PullquoteWe even had one made out of chocolate bar wrappers! People were keen to display their skills, attaching samples of their handiwork, woodcraft, freshly tanned hides, rendered lard, homemade soap and candles. People's motivations for participating on the project were fascinating. We had countless applications from people who felt that they were born in the wrong century. Many felt that the pace of modern-day life was dizzyingly fast and impersonal; they saw this as an opportunity to slow down, get out of the rat race, and try to discover what we might have lost along the way.

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The Homesteaders
Animation of homesteaders
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