Progress Reports

Every two weeks, our researchers write progress reports to keep the P.I.’s and the rest of the team up to date about their work on the project. These progress reports will be posted here so that our readers can stay connected to our work on the project as well.


 

Progress Report: Chapter 10 “Memorializing Overland Migration”

by Hannah Braun

February 9, 2015

1. What were your plans for this reporting period? If you had a “to do” list, include it here.

My goal was to begin research for the Memorializing the Overland Trail chapter and work on a final revised draft of the mobility chapter.

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period. For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed.

• I sent my reading list for the memorialization chapter to Dr. Howkins, and we met to discuss both the list and a framework for approaching the chapter.
• I began reading for the memorialization chapter, taking notes on the following books:
o Kammen, Michael. Mystic Chords of Memory: The Transformation of Tradition in American Culture. New York: Knopf, 1991.
o Rosenzweig, Roy, and David Thelen. The Presence of the Past: Popular Uses of History in American Life. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998.
o Bodnar, John E. Remaking America: Public Memory, Commemoration, and Patriotism in the Twentieth Century. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992.
o Hyde, Anne Farrar. An American Vision: Far Western Landscape and National Culture, 1820-1920. New York: New York University Press, 1990.
• I reviewed Dr. Alexander’s notes on the mobility chapter and began revisions, but have decided to wait until after discussing the flow of the essays with the team on Friday before progressing further.

3. Please explain in narrative form the highlights of your work in the current reporting period, highlighting what you learned with regard to the historical evidence or methodology of your project.

In order to establish an overall framework for how Americans memorialize history and the means we employ, I found it useful to read Michael Kammen’s Mystic Chords of Memory: The Transformation of Tradition in American Culture. Kammen explores how Americans at different points in history have looked back upon and made use of the past. How we have appropriated the past depends very much upon the social and political climate of the present. Kammen discusses this climate and its changes over time while giving detailed examples of how Americans were thinking (or not thinking, for that matter) about the past and how they evoked it through literature, art, museums, collecting, and other forms of material memory-making. Kammen also explores differences in memory-making at the national and local levels. Beginning my research for the memorialization chapter with Kammen’s monograph has helped me conceptualize how to explore memory and the overland trail, and has helped me situate the subject within the cultural, social, and political milieu of the day. It has also helped me identify shifts in that milieu from William Henry Jackson’s time through Ezra Meeker and the Oregon Trail Memorial Association and up to the present with the Oregon California Trails Association and the continued fascination with westward expansion. Reading Kammen and discussing the chapter with Dr. Howkins has enabled me to pinpoint key areas to explore further and ideas for how to think of this chapter not as a simple chronological approach to how people have memorialized and interpreted Scotts Bluff over time, but as a suggestion of a new framework for viewing the history of Scotts Bluff and its role in our memory.

4. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

• I will continue to track and collect feedback on the Scotts Bluff project on the website and Facebook, and begin to develop ways to tap into ongoing online conversations about the monument and how to share within those groups about what we are doing.
• I will continue reading and researching for the memorialization essay.


 

Progress Report: Chapter 11 “Geology”

by Hannah Braun

January 26, 2015

1. What were your plans for this reporting period? If you had a “to do” list, include it here.

My goal was to complete a draft of the geology essay

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period. For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed.

• I have completed a first draft of the geology essay, and it is now ready for review. The essay draft is saved on the P: drive and in Dropbox.
• The Migration I essay (Migrants in Pursuit of a Better Life) has gone through final edits and is ready for final review. The essay is saved on the P: drive and in Dropbox.
• I have completed a reading list for the Migration III essay on memorializing the overland migration, which is ready for review.

3. Please explain in narrative form the highlights of your work in the current reporting period, highlighting what you learned with regard to the historical evidence or methodology of your project.

The geology essay seemed to grow and morph as I researched and wrote. It has evolved into a broader study of the natural environment of Scotts Bluff National Monument, covering not only its geology but also its paleontological resources, landscape, vegetation, and wildlife. This essay presented unique opportunities for extending the narrative up to the present. The geology and natural environment of the monument are not static; they are continually changing and evolving. Likewise, the management decisions undertaken by monument staff have changed and evolved over time as people learned more about the environment and the best way to protect and preserve it. Ultimately, the PLHC team may decide to move much of the essay’s section on management into another essay, but for now, it seems as though some of these issues make sense within the broader context of the monument’s natural history. A richer, more dynamic picture of the monument emerges with a wide view of the environmental history of Scotts Bluff. Although this essay has been at times challenging to conceptualize and write, I have learned an incredible amount about the site’s natural history. Studying changes to the monument and its bluffs over time has given me a deeper appreciation for this very important landmark. I hope that readers of this chapter on natural history will also experience increased appreciation for and understanding of Scotts Bluff National Monument.

4. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

• I will continue to track and collect feedback on the Scotts Bluff project on the website and Facebook.
• I will complete edits to the Mobility, Settlement, & Tourism essay and have a final version ready for review.
• I will finalize the reading list for the Migration III essay and begin research and reading.


Progress Report: Chapter 11 “Geology”

by Hannah Braun

January 9, 2015

1. What were your plans for this reporting period? If you had a “to do” list, include it here.

My goal was to continue writing the geology essay.

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period. For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed.

• I have continued writing the geology essay. The first two sections of the essay are fully written and edited, the third section is written and in the process of being edited, and I am partly through writing the fourth and final section. The essay draft is saved on the P: drive and in Dropbox.
• I have begun preliminary work on creating a reading list for the Migration III essay on memorializing the overland migration.

3. Please explain in narrative form the highlights of your work in the current reporting period, highlighting what you learned with regard to the historical evidence or methodology of your project.

Due to work finalizing an outline for my Wild West Show project right before I left on holiday vacation, I was unable to get as much writing done on the Scotts Bluff geology essay as I had hoped. This week I have been getting back into the groove of writing. The time away from the essay helped me come back to it with fresh eyes and polish up some of the rougher areas of the sections I had already written. I still need to edit and polish the third section on geologic surveys and fossil collection at Scotts Bluff. I am currently writing the fourth and final section, which brings the essay up to the present by looking at the approaches Scotts Bluff National Monument has taken to managing its natural resources and what the environment of the area looks like today. I plan to have a completed draft of the essay ready for review in less than two weeks.

4. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

• I will continue to track and collect feedback on the Scotts Bluff project on the website and Facebook.
• I plan to have the Geology essay completed before my next bi-monthly progress report is due.


Progress Report: Chapter 11 “Geology”

by Hannah Braun

December 12, 2014

1. What were your plans for this reporting period? If you had a “to do” list, include it here.

My goal was to begin writing the geology essay.

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period. For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed.

• I submitted a draft outline of the geology essay to Doug Sheflin. We discussed the outline, and I made modifications to take the essay in the direction of an environmental history of the monument area and Scotts Bluff in particular.
• I began writing the geology essay. I have drafted the first two sections, half of the whole essay, so far. The draft is saved on the P: drive and in Dropbox.
• I used geology sources to create a geologic timescale and a chart of the sedimentary layers present at Scotts Bluff. Both of these charts will be useful within the text of the essay to allow readers to grasp some of the complex geology discussed in the essay. These are saved as Excel spreadsheets on the P: drive and in Dropbox.
• I read over Ruth Alexander’s comments and edits to the mobility, settlement, and tourism essay, and met with her to discuss how to strengthen its argument. I will have a final edited draft of the essay completed by the end of January.
• I completed a final edited draft of the Migration I essay. This essay is now ready for final review as part of the report as a whole. It is saved on the P: drive and in Dropbox.
• I created a HistoryPin account for the Scotts Bluff project, geotagged a few photos, and linked the HistoryPin profile for the project to the Scotts Bluff website.
• Maren Bzdek shared the Scotts Bluff website on the PLHC’s Facebook page, which has generated response on Facebook and a large number of views of the website, although we do not yet have any comments on the website itself. We are also getting track-backs to the site from the PLHC website, which has a link under our digital projects page that takes visitors to the Scotts Bluff site. I am working to collect the response generated by these shares, which are providing an early foundation for a bigger push toward community involvement in the spring.

3. Please explain in narrative form the highlights of your work in the current reporting period, highlighting what you learned with regard to the historical evidence or methodology of your project.

Writing the geology essay is coming along well. I am pleased with the richness of the sources, and if anything I have too much I could write about rather than too little. I have completed a draft of the first section, which provides an overview of the study of geology and the way in which the landscape at Scotts Bluff formed. I am now close to finishing a draft of the second section, which looks at how white travelers from the 1830s through the 1860s have described the geology, landscape, and wildlife at the bluffs.

What has been most remarkable as I go back over my primary sources and mesh them with the narrative is how many of these 19th century travelers provided surprisingly accurate descriptions of the geologic compositions of features such as Court House Rock, Chimney Rock, and Scotts Bluff. Many of these writers were spot-on in their speculations about the formation of these landscapes and the role of erosion in shaping rock features. While a few of these writers may have dabbled in studying geology or nature, most were novices who simply made empirical assessments of rock formations based on what they saw. As a historian, I find this reassuring. Historians do not need to be afraid of science: it is merely the empirical study of what we see before us, and digging into the layers to explore deeper if explanations for what we see are not readily apparent. Reading the geologic landscape is very similar to reading historic documents. In fact, Charles Lyell, the father of modern geology, observed in 1830 how very similar the disciplines of history and geology are, noting that both require studying the past to understand the present. Lyell built the foundations for the modern study of geology by arguing that scientists should use the earth’s present natural laws to determine how the earth has gradually changed over time. The travelers of the 19th century, whether or not they even knew about Lyell’s work, were in fact doing just as he recommended. They were looking for clues in the landscape to tell them about forces that had shaped the landscape over time. Of course, their understanding of deep geological time was still a bit weak—most travelers were more willing to ascribe a faster rate to natural processes than is actually true. Many emigrants speculated that Chimney Rock and other landmarks were eroding so quickly that they would disappear within a few decades at most! Thankfully, we know erosion does not work quite so quickly, and we are still able to enjoy and study the North Platte Valley’s rock formations today.

4. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

• I will continue to track and collect feedback on the Scotts Bluff project on the website and Facebook.
• I hope to complete a preliminary draft of the geology essay by the end of next week before I leave on vacation for the holidays.


 

Progress Report: Chapter 11 “Geology”

by Hannah Braun

December 1, 2014

1. What were your plans for this reporting period? If you had a “to do” list, include it here.

My goal was to continue research on the geology essay.

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period. For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed. Please indicate as well where you have posted your notes and bibliographies.

• Both Ken Mabery and Jason Kenworthy responded to my emails regarding sources for the geology essay and provided me with additional Scotts Bluff National Monument park documents and other geology and paleontology materials.
• I have read and taken notes on the following materials for the geology essay:
o William L Effinger, Outline of the Geology and Paleontology of Scotts Bluff National Monument. 1934.
o John Graham and the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Geologic Resources Division, Natural Resources Program Center. Agate Fossil Beds National Monument Geologic Resources Inventory Report. 2009.
o John Graham and the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Geologic Resources Division, Natural Resources Program Center. Scotts Bluff National Monument Geologic Resources Inventory Report. 2009.
o Paul A. Johnsgard, The Nature of Nebraska: Ecology and Biodiversity. 2001.
o Eugene P. Kiver and David V. Harris. Geology of U.S. Parklands. Fifth Edition. 1999.
o Harmon D. Maher, Jr., George F. Englemann, and Robert D. Shuster. Roadside Geology of Nebraska. 2003.
o Scotts Bluff National Monument. Fossil Management Plan, Scotts Bluff National Monument. 2014.
o Scotts Bluff National Monument. Scotts Bluff National Monument, National Park Service Cultural Landscapes Inventory. 2011.
o Scotts Bluff National Monument. Scotts Bluff National Monument: Scope of Collections. 2010.
o James B. Swinehart and David B. Loope. “Late Cenozoic Geology Along the Summit to Museum Hiking Trail, Scotts Bluff National Monument, Western Nebraska.” In North-Central Section of the Geological Society of America, Centennial Field Guide Volume 3, edited by Donald L. Briggs, 13-18. 1987.
o Keith Thomson, The Legacy of the Mastodon: The Golden Age of Fossils in America. 2008.
o Justin S. Tweet, Vincent L. Santucci, and Jason P. Kenworthy. Paleontological Resource Inventory and Monitoring: Northern Great Plains Network. 2011.
o U.S. Department of the Interior. Division of Publications, Harpers Ferry Center, National Park Service. Agate Fossil Beds: Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, Nebraska. 1980.
o U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Draft General Management Plan and Environmental Assessment for Scotts Bluff National Monument. 1998.
o U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Master Plan: Scotts Bluff National Monument, Nebraska. 1976.
o David J. Wishart, “Natural Areas, Regions, and Two Centuries of Environmental Change on the Great Plains.” Great Plains Quarterly 26, no. 3 (Summer 2006): 147-165.
• I have read and taken notes on the following primary sources for the geology essay:
o Warren Angus Ferris, Life in the Rocky Mountains. A Diary of Wanderings on the Sources of the Rivers Missouri, Columbia, and Colorado, 1830-1835, with Supplementary Writings and a Detailed Map of the Fur Country. Originally published in installments, 1842-1844.
o Charles Lyell, Principles of Geology, Being An Attempt to Explain the Former Changes of the Earth’s Surface, by Reference to Causes Now in Operation. Vol. 1. Originally published in 1830.
o Rufus B. Sage, Rocky Mountain Life, Or, Startling Scenes and Perilous Adventures in the Far West, During an Expedition of Three Years. Originally published in 1846.
• To aid thinking about digital history and how to conceptualize it for this project, I also read Jack Dougherty and Kristen Nawrotzki, Writing History in the Digital Age, from University of Michigan Press.
• I have updated the master project bibliography to include all these sources, and it has been uploaded to the website as well. All notes and materials are saved on the P: drive and the Dropbox.

3. Please explain in narrative form the highlights of your work in the current reporting period, highlighting what you learned with regard to the historical evidence or methodology of your project.

I have been able to look through a large amount of material related to geology and paleontology at Scotts Bluff including looking at western Nebraska geology overall and also at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument as a similar site to Scotts Bluff. Many of these sources have all conveyed essentially the same information, so I have not ended up spending as much time researching for this essay as I initially expected.
I have been surprised by how remarkably straightforward geology is. While geologists and paleontologists may differ over small details of their work, they are in close agreement with the main principles, such as how geologic formations were laid, events of the geologic time scale, and what the fossil record demonstrates about geology and life on earth long ago. Reiteration of these principles in all the source material I read has helped me better understand the subject material and think about how to convey the main principles to the audience of our context reports.
As I bring the research phase to a close and prepare to draft an outline for the geology chapter, I am trying to envision how to put the chapter together. My research has revealed a few core elements that I plan to incorporate into the chapter. These include:
• A brief summary of the geologic time scale and the overall geologic story of western Nebraska and Scotts Bluff including prehistoric fauna and flora
• A discussion of historic perspectives of Scotts Bluff’s geology (for example, what the emigrants thought about the formation through the lens of geology)
• A discussion of paleontology and fossil collection in western Nebraska and Scotts Bluff
• A summary of today’s natural resources at the monument, including flora and fauna
• A summary of modern-day management practices at the monument related to geology, paleontology, and natural resources, including erosion mitigation, fossil collection, vegetation plans, and wildlife

4. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

• I will be drafting an outline for the geology chapter in the next few days, and after discussing it with Doug Sheflin, I will begin writing the chapter.
• I plan to continue to work on the project website.


 

Progress Report: Chapter 11 “Geology”

by Hannah Braun

November 13, 2014

1. What were your plans for this reporting period? If you had a “to do” list, include it here.

My goal was to begin research on the geology essay and begin work on the digital history component by starting with a revamp of the website.

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period. For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed. Please indicate as well where you have posted your notes and bibliographies.

• I completed a draft of the mobility, settlement, and tourism essay, and it is ready for review and edits.
• I met with Dr. Howkins to discuss the website and digital history component.
• I have updated the website with a new theme and format, new pages, and an orientation that will be more user-friendly for community members in order to encourage them to contribute and participate in the project. Work on the website is on-going and more will be added and modified prior to a campaign in the spring to generate community participation. Upcoming changes will include a finesse of the text, a HistoryPin component, and Facebook and Twitter presence.
• I have further rounded out the reading list for the geology essay, and have contacted both Ken Mabery and Jason Kenworthy regarding additional sources.
• I have begun looking at sources for the geology essay. I have read and taken notes on the following materials:
o Chronic, Halka. Pages of Stone: Geology of Western National Parks and Monuments. Volume 1: Rocky Mountains and Western Great Plains. Seattle: The Mountaineers, 1984.
o Cockrell, Ron and U.S. Dept. of the Interior, National Park Service, Midwest Regional Office. Scotts Bluff National Monument, Nebraska: An Administrative History, 1960-1983. Omaha: U.S. Dept. of the Interior, National Park Service, Midwest Regional Office, 1983.
o Knudsen, Dean. Scotts Bluff National Monument: Landmark on the Overland Trails, A History and Guide. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of the Interior, National Park Service, 2003.
o Mattes, Merrill J. The Great Platte River Road: The Covered Wagon Mainline Via Fort Kearny to Fort Laramie. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1969.
o Mattes, Merrill J. Scotts Bluff National Monument, Nebraska. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of the Interior, National Park Service, 1958.
o Meldahl, Keith Heyer. Hard Road West: History and Geology Along the Gold Rush Trail. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.
o Oregon Trail Museum Association and the National Park Service. Scotts Bluff National Monument, Nebraska: Summit Self-Guiding Trail. [S.I.]: Oregon Trail Museum Association. [198-?]
o Pabian, Roger K. and James B. Swinehart II. Geologic History of Scotts Bluff National Monument. Educational Circular No. 3. Lincoln: University of Nebraska, Conservation and Survey Division, 1979.
o Trimble, Donald E. The Geologic Story of the Great Plains: A Nontechnical Description of the Origin and Evolution of the Landscape of the Great Plains. Geological Survey Bulletin 1493. Washington, D.C.: United States Dept. of the Interior, Geological Survey, 1980.
o Wenzel, L. K., R. C. Cady, and H. A. Waite, in cooperation with the Conservation and Survey Division of the University of Nebraska. Geology and Ground-water Resources of Scotts Bluff County, Nebraska. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1946.
• I also took notes on primary sources for eyewitness descriptions of Scotts Bluff, including its geology, between the 1830s and 1860s:
o Bryant, Edwin. What I Saw in California. 1848. Accessed in online database, “Trails of Hope: Overland Diaries and Letters, 1846-1869,” BYU Harold B. Lee Library Digital Collections, http://overlandtrails.lib.byu.edu/
o Burton, Richard F. The City of the Saints and Across the Rocky Mountains to California. Edited, with an introduction and notes, by Fawn M. Brodie. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1963.
o Irving, Washington. The Adventures of Captain Bonneville. Edited by Robert A. Rees and Alan Sandy. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1977.
• I have updated the master project bibliography to include all these sources, and it has been uploaded to the website as well. All notes and materials are saved on the P: drive and the Dropbox.

3. Please explain in narrative form the highlights of your work in the current reporting period, highlighting what you learned with regard to the historical evidence or methodology of your project.

It seems as though the geology chapter has been the elephant in the room for the whole PLHC team. We know it is a very important topic, but no one is quite sure what to do with it. The natural resources of Scotts Bluff are so incredibly important. However, researching and writing about rocks, sediment strata, erosion, vegetation, and animal life, and trying to comprehend all of these things in the “deep time” of geology, is outside the wheelhouse of most historians. I count myself among that group of most historians, since I started out in social history and have only recently began looking at the field through the lens of the environment and landscape, much less the lens of natural resources. The geology chapter has both scared and excited me, and now that I am beginning work on it, both of those feelings have intensified. The fact that I have not taken an earth sciences class since at least my sophomore year of high school makes the subject matter particularly intimidating. However, my father, a trained geologist, can rest happy that at least some member of the family has finally taken an interest in rocks!

Although some of the sources I have read so far have been rather technical and often above my head, I have been surprised at how quickly I have been able to start getting a handle on the forces that have shaped Scotts Bluff for so long. Although I still have no idea how I am going to go about formulating and writing this chapter, I am confident that the more I dig into the material, the more key points and ideas for interpretive themes will stand out to me. I am excited to grow in a completely new direction as a historian by looking at natural resources. I am also looking forward to turning my own weakness in the subject material into a strength as I craft an essay that hopefully will take a unique interpretive approach to the geology and natural environment of Scotts Bluff National Monument.

4. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

• I plan to continue reading and taking notes on sources for the geology essay.
• I plan to continue to work on the project website and incorporate expanded social media presence and a HistoryPin feature, as well as updating and finessing the content and text.


 

Progress Report: Chapter 8 “Mobility, Settlement, & Tourism”

by Hannah Braun

October 31, 2014

1. What were your plans for this reporting period? If you had a “to do” list, include it here.

My goal was to continue writing a draft of the Mobility, Settlement and Tourism essay.

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period. For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed.

• I continued to work on the draft of the mobility essay. I completed the majority of the writing but still need to make some substantial edits, finish the introduction, and write the conclusion before the essay is ready for review and comments.
• I worked on a draft work plan for the Scotts Bluff project to help me focus on creating a timeline for how to divide up the remaining essay work.
• I met with Dr. Howkins to begin discussing how to approach the digital history component of the project and expand the reach of the website.
• I compiled a reading list for the Geology essay, which is the next portion that I will begin tackling.

3. Please explain in narrative form the highlights of your work in the current reporting period, highlighting what you learned with regard to the historical evidence or methodology of your project.

I continue to realize how challenging it is to spend weeks researching an era or theme in history and then distill that research into a concise, comprehensive essay. It has been challenging to wrap my head around the large scope of the Mobility essay and pick out the overarching themes that best sum up Nebraska’s history in the last 150 years. I have at times been frustrated with the enormous amount of research I have collected, but one of the adventures of historical research is that you never quite know what materials will prove most helpful until you sit down to write. Because of the extensive research I have conducted, I feel like I have a much better handle on the subject material than I did when I began working on this essay, despite my background in western U.S. history. I have discovered many interesting stories that I hope will give a depth to the essay when it is finished. Historical research and writing is a process we are all learning to refine, and I plan to take many of the lessons learned from this essay into the remaining two chapters in my wheelhouse.

4. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

By the end of the first week of November, I will have finished editing the Mobility essay and will submit a solid draft for review. Over the next two weeks, I also plan to begin research for the Geology essay and ramp up my work on the digital history component, including revamping the website and beginning to compile a contact list of people to approach about contributing their stories to the site.


Progress Report: Chapter 8 “Mobility, Settlement, & Tourism”

by Hannah Braun

October 17, 2014

1. What were your plans for this reporting period? If you had a “to do” list, include it here.

My goal was to go over my outline for the Mobility, Settlement and Tourism essay with Dr. Alexander and begin writing an essay draft.

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period. For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed. Please indicate as well where you have posted your notes and bibliographies.

I met with Dr. Alexander on October 7 to discuss the outline for the essay and ideas to strengthen the thesis and construct a cohesive argument through the course of the essay. The meeting was very helpful, and I have spent time reconstructing an introduction to the essay and selecting evidence from literature, historical societies, Nebraska promotional materials, and popular culture to argue my point. The introduction of the essay is still in draft form and I will be adding to it and developing it as I go along.

In addition to working on the essay introduction, I have written the first two of six chronological sections to the essay. The first section, focusing on Nebraska prior to the start of the homesteading boom in the 1870s, has been edited and is fairly solid. I am still editing, consolidating, and trimming down the second section, which discusses the homesteading boom of the 1870s to 1900s, the role of railroads and promotional boosters, and early railroad tourism. My working essay draft is saved on the P: drive and the Dropbox.

3. Please explain in narrative form the highlights of your work in the current reporting period, highlighting what you learned with regard to the historical evidence or methodology of your project.

In my research, I have gotten the feeling that Nebraskans view themselves from the context of late nineteenth century homesteaders. These homesteaders are portrayed as determined and brave conquerors of a wild land, who put down roots and whose generational experiences on the land have given Nebraska its rich culture of persistence. This view is evident in the literary works of Nebraskans such as Willa Cather and Mari Sandoz. At the same time that they value the pioneer tradition, Nebraskans have always tried to expand the state’s industry and economic diversification. Despite some achievements in this regard, Nebraska remains a primarily agricultural state that struggles with out-migration due to limited opportunities. These views are not just the perspectives of Nebraskans in 1900, 1930, or 1945. They are still held, as evidenced by the concluding lines in the 1997 third edition of History of Nebraska, a definitive study by James C. Olson and Ronald C. Naugle. The authors write, “Nearly a quarter-century since their centennial celebration, Nebraskans continue to struggle with many of the same issues. Their society is still heavily dependent on agriculture yet is seeking a broader economic diversity through the expansion of industry. The out-migration of Nebraskans remains a concern…. As Nebraskans look to the new century, there is much in their past to celebrate. Both creative and pragmatic solutions have resolved challenges of the past and will likely do so in the future. The land and the pioneer spirit of its people remain Nebraska’s most valuable resources for meeting the challenges of the twenty-first century.” (Olson and Naugle, History of Nebraska, 398-399)

It may indeed be that the land and the pioneer spirit has made Nebraska what it is and will continue to give its people direction, but this view can neglect the role that mobility has played in the lives of Nebraskans since before it was a state. People have constantly moved in and out of the state for land, jobs, and leisure. Much of the mobility within the state has taken place within the minority population, including American Indians, Mexicans and Hispanics, Japanese Americans, and African Americans. These are many of the key players in Nebraska’s history that historians Olson and Naugle devote little, if any, space.

However, other historians have argued that the Great Plains and Nebraska have a more complex, multi-faceted story, one that takes into account the persistence but also the mobility, the white Euro-American homesteader as well as the American Indians, Mexicans, and African Americans who transformed the land. R. Douglas Hurt, the preeminent scholar of the Great Plains, has shown that the ideas of mobility and persistence are not at odds with each other; they are mutually compatible, normal processes of life. He calls Plains residents the “next year people in a next year country,” and appropriate phrase that sums up their attachment to the land and to the idea that the future is full of possibilities. Hurt concludes his book The Big Empty: The Great Plains in the Twentieth Century by saying, “The depopulation or changing population of rural areas was not necessarily bad, because it indicated the traditional, historical process of adjustment of plains men and women to their environment, something they had done since they first came to the plains. During the twentieth century, some chose to stay while others chose to leave, but for those who stayed by choice and even for many who could not, the Great Plains became their sense of place, the land where they belonged.” (Hurt, The Big Empty, 260) I think Hurt’s conclusion is an excellent beginning for exploring mobility in Nebraska since the 1860s.

4. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

I plan to finish editing the second section of the essay and complete the writing and editing of at least two more sections over the next two weeks.

 


Progress Report: Chapter 8 “Mobility, Settlement, & Tourism”

by Hannah Braun

October 3, 2014

 1. What were your plans for this reporting period? If you had a “to do” list, please include it here.

• Continue reading for Mobility, Settlement, & Tourism essay.

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period. For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed. Please indicate as well where you have posted your notes and bibliographies.

I have read and taken notes on the following books and articles for the Mobility, Settlement, & Tourism essay:
• Gehrke, Margaret May Patton, Edward Arthur Gehrke (photographs), and Jill Marie Koelling (ed). “A Thousand Mile Motor Trip through Western Nebraska, 1916,” Nebraska History 78 (1997): 22-27.
• Heefner, Gretchen. The Missile Next Door: The Minuteman in the American Heartland. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2012.
• Larsen, Lawrence H. “The Alliance Army Air Base Case,” Nebraska History 67 (1986): 239-255.
• Morin, Karen M. “Trains Through the Plains: The Great Plains Landscape of Victorian Women Travelers.” Great Plains Quarterly, Vol. 18, No. 3 (Summer 1998): 235-256.
• Retzinger, Jean P. “Framing the Tourist Gaze: Railway Journeys Across Nebraska, 1866-1906.” Great Plains Quarterly, Vol. 18, No. 3 (Summer 1998): 213-226.
• Rothman, Hal K. Devil’s Bargains: Tourism in the Twentieth-Century American West. Lawrence, Kan.: University Press of Kansas, 1998.
• Spencer, Ralph. “Prisoners of War in Cheyenne County, 1943-1946,” Nebraska History 63 (1982): 438-449.
• Wrobel, David M. Promised Lands: Promotion, Memory, and the Creation of the American West. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2002.
• Wrobel, David M. and Patrick T. Long, eds. Seeing and Being Seen: Tourism in the American West. Lawrence: Published for the Center of the American West, University of Colorado at Boulder by the University Press of Kansas, 2001.

My essay bibliography and notes for all these sources are saved on the P: drive and the Dropbox. I have also updated the master project bibliography, which is saved on the P: drive and the Dropbox and accessible through the project website.

I have also drafted an outline for the Mobility, Settlement, and Tourism essay, which is also saved on the P: drive and the Dropbox.

3. Please explain in narrative form the highlights of your work in the current reporting period, highlighting what you learned with regard to the historical evidence or methodology of your project.

One of the most interesting histories I have uncovered recently in my research is the history of World War II prisoner of war camps on the Great Plains. Hundreds of thousands of German and Italian prisoners of war were housed in the United States starting in 1943. The Great Plains provided an ideal location for the POW camps: the region was remote and far from coastlines, many areas were far from major military outposts, and the region’s agricultural areas were suffering the loss of workers due to the war, which had created a labor shortage that prisoners could fill. R. Douglas Hurt’s The Great Plains During World War II introduced me to the story of these prisoners. In his article for Nebraska History, “Prisoners of War in Cheyenne County, 1943-1946,” Ralph Spencer notes that Nebraska had twenty POW camps during the war. Near the town of Scottsbluff, on land that has now been returned to pasture, stood one of two major POW base camps in western Nebraska (the other was located at Fort Robinson).

Many of the prisoners processed through Camp Scottsbluff were later located in smaller, 300-man branch camps, many located close by in communities such as Bayard and Bridgeport. Under the Geneva Convention, officers who were prisoners could not be forced to work, although they could volunteer. Enlisted men could work so long as the labor did not directly aid the war effort and the work was not demeaning or the conditions were similar to those experienced by civilian laborers. Many of the German and Italian prisoners in Nebraska worked on neighboring farmers, including sugar beet farmers in the North Platte Valley. This was an incredible boon for farmers, who faced a severe labor shortage as young men joined the military and many other agricultural workers left for higher-paying defense industry jobs in the cities. While migrant labor, particularly from Mexican-Americans and the Bracero Program, helped with the shortage, it did not supply all the labor farmers needed. Prisoners of war offered accessible, affordable labor, even if in many cases the quality and efficiency of their work was much poorer than that of experienced agricultural laborers.

In contrast to the racism that Nebraskans often displayed toward Mexican migrant workers, many farmers were much more receptive toward German and Italian prisoners. Farmers often treated their prison workforce to home-cooked meals, engaged them in conversation, and sometimes even maintained friendships via correspondence long after the prisoners returned home. I found this very unusual considering that many of these farmers likely had sons fighting the Germans and Italians in Europe. Although the federal government classified Mexican workers as “white,” many residents of the Great Plains did not view them as white. Most Nebraskans were unwilling to surmount the language and culture barriers with their Mexican employees, but residents were more likely to treat European prisoners of war as equals. Similarity of cultural background and even language (since many residents of the Plains were themselves descendants of immigrants, including large numbers of ethnic Germans), may have accounted for some of this, but still does not dismiss the attitudes of Nebraskans.

These prisoners of war were only in Nebraska for a few short years. In 1946, only three years after the first prisoners arrived, the camps closed in and all prisoners were repatriated. Despite the prisoners’ brief time in the Great Plains, the story of mobility in the region is not complete without the unique story of these men. Despite how little has been written about this facet of Great Plains history, my interest has been piqued to learn more about their story and the experiences of the Nebraskans who lived and worked alongside them.

4. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

I will finish working through the last sources on my reading list for the Mobility essay. Because these sources deal with tourism, the history of Scottsbluff, and Nebraska as a whole, the notes I take will be useful in completing the Migration III and the Town & Park Management essays.

Since I have now given some thought to how to construct the Mobility essay and have completed a brief outline, I am hoping to begin the writing process over the coming weeks.

 


Progress Report: Chapter 8 “Mobility, Settlement, & Tourism”

by Hannah Braun

September 17, 2014

1. What were your plans for this reporting period? If you had a “to do” list, please include it here.

• Continue reading for Mobility, Settlement, & Tourism essay.

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period. For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed. Please indicate as well where you have posted your notes and bibliographies.

I have continued to read for the Mobility, Settlement, & Tourism essay, taking notes on the following works:

• Ahlgren, Carol, and David Anthone, “The Lincoln Highway in Nebraska: The Pioneer Trail of The Automotive Age,” Nebraska History 73 (1992): 173-179.
• Brown, Sara A. and Robie O. Sargent, “Children in the Sugar Beet Fields of the North Platte Valley of Nebraska, 1923,” Nebraska History 67 (1986): 256-303.
• Cohen, Deborah. Braceros: Migrant Citizens and Transnational Subjects in the Postwar United States and Mexico. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
• Guenther, Todd. “The Empire Builders, An African American Odyssey in Nebraska and Wyoming,” Nebraska History 89 (2008): 176-200.
• Humberger, Charles E. “The Civilian Conservation Corps in Nebraska: Memoirs of Company 762,” Nebraska History 75 (1994): 292-300.
• Hurt, R. Douglas. The Big Empty: The Great Plains in the Twentieth Century. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2011.
• Hurt, R. Douglas. The Great Plains During World War II. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2008.
• Jensen, Richard E. “Nebraska’s World War I Potash Industry,” Nebraska History 68 (1987): 28-42.
• Lyons-Barrett, Mary. “Child Labor in the Early Sugar Beet Industry in the Great Plains, 1890-1920.” Great Plains Quarterly, Vol. 25, No. 1 (Winter 2005): 29-38.
• McChristian, Douglas C. Fort Laramie: Military Bastion of the High Plains. Norman, OK: Arthur H. Clark Co., 2009.
• Norris, Jim. North for the Harvest: Mexican Workers, Growers, and the Sugar Beet Industry. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2009.
• Paige, John C. The Civilian Conservation Corps and the National Park Service, 1933-1942: An Administrative History. National Park Service, U.S. Dept. of the Interior, 1985.
• Preston, Jack R. “Heyward G. Leavitt’s Influence on Sugar Beets and Irrigation in Nebraska.” Agricultural History, Vol. 76, No. 2, Water and Rural History (Spring, 2002): 381-392.
• Smith, Michael M. “Beyond the Borderlands: Mexican Labor in the Central Plains, 1900-1930.” Great Plains Quarterly, Vol. 1, No. 4 (Fall 1981): 239-251.
• Valdes, Dennis Nodin. “Settlers, Sojourners, and Proletarians: Social Formation in the Great Plains Sugar Beet Industry, 1890-1940.” Great Plains Quarterly, Vol. 10, No. 2 (Spring 1990): 110-123.
• Williams, Suzanne Sarver. Nebraska and the CCC: Young Men at Their Best. Denton Community Historical Society, 2008.

My essay bibliography and notes for all these sources are saved on the P: drive and the Dropbox. I have also updated the master project bibliography, which is saved on the P: drive and the Dropbox and accessible through the project website.

3. Please explain in narrative form the highlights of your work in the current reporting period, highlighting what you learned with regard to the historical evidence or methodology of your project.

I have spent much of the past two weeks looking at the Plains since the turn of the century, and have noted that temporary and permanent mobility is a defining social and economic feature of the region. The most useful source in discovering these broad trends in mobility has been R. Douglas Hurt’s The Big Empty: The Great Plains in the Twentieth Century, while many of the other sources I read have provided details on particular themes or eras of mobility in the Great Plains and western Nebraska in particular.

The turn of the century saw a significant influx of Mexican and Mexican American migrant laborers on the Plains, numbers that intensified after 1910 and the unrest of the Mexican Revolution. Single men and later families traveled to the Plains seasonally to take part in agricultural harvests, railroad work crews, the oil industry, and meatpacking plants. Eventually work in the railroad and meatpacking industries often became year-round, and these Mexicans moved to Nebraska and other Plains states permanently, instead of spending their winters in the cities or south in Texas and Mexico where they were recruited. In the Scottsbluff area, many migrant workers came to labor in the sugar beet fields. Those who ended up staying lived in colonias, settlements of Mexican laborers organized by Great Western Sugar Company.
High commodity prices during World War I led to many farmers expanding their production, only to have the market collapse after the end of the war. This set the stage for hard times from the 1920s through the 1930s. Some areas of the Plains were plagued by drought and poor harvests in the 1920s, which intensified with the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. The exodus from the American farm during the Depression had actually already started in the 1920s. Many Nebraskans found better conditions in the Pacific Northwest, where the economy had not been hit as hard. Others moved from farms and rural towns to cities in search of work. The demographic shift of the 1920s and 1930s was permanent; people who migrated to other areas in search of improved economic conditions did not move back to the countryside.

World War II again brought high commodity prices and flush years for the farmers who stayed on the land. The war also brought many new war defense industries to the Great Plains. Although California was the “hot spot” for defense contracts during the war, many Plains states benefitted. Nebraska boasted a number of munitions and ordnance plants, aircraft assembly plants, and military bases. Again a population shift occurred. Defense industries offered much higher wages than most other jobs, so many people left the countryside for the towns and cities where these industries were located. Some stayed within the Plains for these jobs, while many others moved to the Far West states. Cities experienced booming populations and strained city services and infrastructure, while small rural communities hemorrhaged population. Farmers in particular struggled, unable to obtain enough laborers year round and at harvest to process the high production levels called for by the federal government. Many farmhands left for the military or for higher paying defense jobs. Once again, Mexicans filled the void. The federal government authorized the Bracero Program starting in 1942 to provide much-needed temporary labor assistance to agricultural industries across the nation, and Nebraska’s sugar beet fields benefitted from this help. After the war, many defense industries closed down their plants and factories in the Great Plains. Nebraska lost the majority of its defense spending, resulting in the loss of many jobs. Some people chose to move outside the region after the war, but others stayed in the cities where they had found work during the war.

Migration and mobility in Nebraska and the Great Plains changed after the turn of the century. In the late 1800s, people had come to the region for land and farms. By the 1920s, a large exodus from the farm had begun that would wax and wane over the decades. While agricultural laborers often experienced high mobility due to seasonal employment and limited opportunities for advancement, white Nebraskans increasingly moved in search of non-agricultural employment. Cities and towns grew as people sought higher paying jobs and a more comfortable standard of living. The first half of the twentieth century thus saw more demographic population shifts and mobility in the Great Plains than in previous decades.

4. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

I will finish working through the sources on my reading list for the Mobility essay. I have just a few more books related to western tourism to work through, and then would like to look through some histories of Scottsbluff to fill in additional local information for the essay. I hope to begin writing sometime in October.


Progress Report: Chapter 8 “Mobility, Settlement, & Tourism

by Hannah Braun

September 5, 2014

1. What were your plans for this reporting period? If you had a “to do” list, please include it here.

• Work on editing and restructuring Migration I essay.
• Continue reading for Mobility, Settlement, & Tourism essay.

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period. For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed. Please indicate as well where you have posted your notes and bibliographies.

I spent the first part of the reporting period editing and restructuring my Migration I essay. I was able to consolidate and streamline many of the sections to create a tighter narrative. I was able to cut the essay from 53 pages to 35, and the actual text minus notes and bibliography clocks in at about 12,800 words, a reduction of almost 8,000 words over the previous draft. Although the essay still should probably be reduced to the neighborhood of 8,000-10,000 words, I feel like I have already spent too much time working on it, and would like to set it aside until later in 2015 when the team works on the editing process prior to submitting all the chapters to Scotts Bluff National Monument. By then I will have had enough distance from the essay to further reduce the content. My existing edited draft has been saved on the P: drive and to the project Dropbox.

I have continued to read for the Mobility, Settlement, & Tourism essay, taking notes on the following works:
• Buecker, Thomas R. Fort Robinson and the American West, 1874-1899. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2003.
• Cummings, Amos Jay. Edited and compiled by Jerald T. Milanich. A Remarkable Curiosity: Dispatches from a New York City Journalist’s 1873 Railroad Trip across the American West. Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2008.
• Dewing, Rolland. Regions in Transition: The Northern Great Plains and the Pacific Northwest in the Great Depression. University Press of America, 2006.
• Emmons, David M. Garden in the Grasslands: Boomer Literature of the Central Great Plains. Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press, 1971.
• Gordon, Sarah H. Passage to Union: How the Railroads Transformed American Life, 1829-1929. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1997.
• Katz, William Loren. The Black West: A Documentary and Pictorial History of the African American Role in the Westward Expansion of the United States. New York: Harlem Moon, 2005.
• Kinbacher, Kurt, and William G. Thomas. “Shaping Nebraska: An Analysis of Railroad Land Sales, 1870-1880.” Great Plains Quarterly, Vol. 28 (Summer 2008): 191-207.
• Mattes, Merrill J. and Paul Henderson. The Pony Express: From St. Joseph to Fort Laramie. St. Louis, Mo.: Patrice Press, 1989.
• Overton, Richard Cleghorn. Burlington West: A Colonization History of the Burlington Railroad. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1941.
• Painter, Nell Irvin. Exodusters: Black Migration to Kansas after Reconstruction. New York: Knopf, 1977.
• Savage, W. Sherman. Blacks in the West. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1976.
• Strom, Claire. Profiting from the Plains: The Great Northern Railway and Corporate Development of the American West. Seattle, Wash.: University of Washington Press, 2003.
• Tate, Michael L. The Frontier Army in the Settlement of the West. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999.
• Yost, Nellie Snyder. The Call of the Range: The Story of the Nebraska Stock Growers Association. Denver: Sage Books, 1966.
My essay bibliography and notes for all these sources are saved on the P: drive and the Dropbox. I have also updated the master project bibliography, which is saved on the P: drive and the Dropbox and accessible through the project website.

3. Please explain in narrative form the highlights of your work in the current reporting period, highlighting what you learned with regard to the historical evidence or methodology of your project.

As I worked through sources related to settlement of the Great Plains in the 1860s through the early twentieth century, I saw many similarities with earlier migration patterns along the overland trails. Just as emigrants between 1840 and 1860 relied on mass media including newspapers and guidebooks, so emigrants to the Plains relied on mass media to make decisions about settling on new land. The railroads were one of the leading agents of this mass media revolution, producing hundreds of thousands of guides, circulars, gazettes, and handbills promoting sale of lands on the Great Plains. Before the 1860s, the majority of railroads in the East connected already existing towns, and built track through already established communities and cultivated land. The first transcontinental railroad, completed in 1869, crossed vast tracts of undeveloped, rural land, as did many of the railroads that followed in the 1870s and 1880s. Railroads depended on haulage on their lines in order to recoup the investment of laying rails. In the rural, unsettled Great Plains, however, there were initially few towns and farms to provide the raw materials the trains could haul. Railroads were one of the most vocal promoters of settlement on the Great Plains in order to build up communities along their lines to produce crops and livestock that the railroads could ship east. Many railroads were given land grants by the government, consisting of vast parcels of alternate sections of land along the railroad right of ways. Railroads then sold these sections to settlers in order to recoup expenses of laying the track. Many railroads even offered free tickets to would-be settlers, inviting them on exploratory trips to scout out the land prior to moving west. Probably the most intriguing and useful source I read on the topic of land promotion was David M. Emmons, Garden in the Grasslands: Boomer Literature of the Central Great Plains. However, the best efforts of the railroads and promoters could not ultimately mask the fact that much of the western Plains, including the area of Scottsbluff, are a particularly challenging area to farm due to meager rainfall, harsh climate, and the necessity of irrigation. Hardships on the land resulted in out-migration, which occurred throughout the major settlement era and gained speed in the 1920s when crop prices fell and the region began to experience a series of bad harvests that culminated in the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s. Nebraska and the Great Plains have never been a place of overall stability for many people. The state and the region are constantly changing, and people are constantly moving in and out in search of better opportunities. From the 1870s through the 1930s, most of these opportunities had to do directly with the land and agriculture. As I continue to read, I hope to discover other industries and opportunities that brought people to Nebraska in the twentieth century.

Railroads did not just bring settlers to Nebraska; they also brought some of the first tourists. These people, generally wealthy Easterners or newspapermen, did not come to settle in the Great Plains, but rather to cross the region and experience the West from the comfort of their Pullman car. The West had had tourists before, but the railroads facilitated a much faster and more comfortable vacation experience. Many nineteenth century railroad tourists and traveling journalists recorded their impressions of the Plains. Among these travelers was Amos Jay Cummings, a journalist from New York City, whose columns about his excursions have been edited and published as A Remarkable Curiosity: Dispatches from a New York City Journalist’s 1873 Railroad Trip across the American West. While relatively few excursionists traveled through Nebraska specifically to see its sights (most tourists focused on destinations such as Denver or San Francisco), crossing the Plains was still part of the vacation experience and the region arrested the interest of travelers. By the early twentieth century, these railroad tourists would begin to give way to a new form of excursion traveler: the automobile tourist.

4. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

I will continue to work through the sources on my reading list for the Mobility essay.


Progress Report: Chapter 8 “Mobility, Settlement, & Tourism

by Hannah Braun

August 21, 2014

1. What were your plans for this reporting period? If you had a “to do” list, please include it here.

• Meet with Dr. Alexander to go over edits to my Migration I essay and to discuss conceptualizing my Mobility, Settlement, & Tourism essay.
• Begin editing and restructuring Migration I essay, incorporating comments and feedback from Dr. Alexander and Dr. Sheflin.
• Begin reading through books for Mobility essay.
• Come up with a set of focus questions to guide my research for the Mobility essay.

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period. For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed. Please indicate as well where you have posted your notes and bibliographies.

I met with Dr. Alexander on August 13 to go over the edits for the Migration I essay. She was very helpful in suggesting ways to restructure the essay in order to improve the flow and reduce the word count. I have begun incorporating these suggestions and earlier comments by her and Dr. Sheflin, and am about halfway through the changes.

Dr. Alexander also helped me construct a rough framework for the Mobility essay by having me come up with a set of focus questions to keep in mind as I conduct research and begin to write the essay. The following are the focus questions I have developed, which I hope to fine-tune as I go along:
• When did people migrate to the Great Plains/Nebraska? Were there eras or waves of migration? What might have caused or facilitated these waves?
• What motivated people to migrate to the Great Plains/Nebraska (boosterism, land promotions, advertising)?
• Who migrated to the Great Plains/Nebraska (military, through-travelers, homesteaders, railroad workers, sugar beet workers, other laborers, tourists, etc.)? Where did they come from (ethnicity, background, socio-economic status, etc.)?
• Where did they go (specific regions based on ethnicity or area industry, locations of out-migration for those who left, specific locations visited by tourists, etc.)?
• How did they migrate (wagon, stage, railroad, automobile, etc.) and how did transportation change over time?
• Why did people migrate to the Great Plains/Nebraska (land, economic opportunity, industry, tourism, etc.)?
• What did migrants do to the land, economy, environment, infrastructure of the Great Plains/Nebraska? What changes did they make? How do these changes continue to affect the Great Plains/Nebraska today?
(For all of these questions, I will try to drill down to specific answers for the Scottsbluff/Gering area)

I have also begun reading for the Mobility essay. To date I have finished reading and taking notes on the following works:
• Fink, Deborah. Agrarian Women: Wives and Mothers in Rural Nebraska, 1880-1940. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992.
• Holt, Marilyn Irvin. Children of the Western Plains: The Nineteenth-Century Experience. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2003.
• Kinsella, Steven R. 900 Miles from Nowhere: Voices from the Homestead Frontier. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2006.
• Luebke, Frederick C., ed. Ethnicity on the Great Plains. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1980:
• Luebke, Frederick C. Immigrants and Politics: The Germans of Nebraska, 1880-1900. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1969.
• Pickle, Linda Schelbitzki. Contented Among Strangers: Rural German-speaking Women and Their Families in the Nineteenth-century Midwest. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996.
• Ridge, Martin. “Reflections on the Pony Express.” Montana: The Magazine of Western History, Vol. 46, No. 3 (Autumn, 1996), pp. 2-13.
My essay bibliography and notes for all these sources are saved on the P: drive and the Dropbox. I have also updated the master project bibliography, saved on the P: drive and the Dropbox, and accessible through the project website.

3. Please explain in narrative form the highlights of your work in the current reporting period, highlighting what you learned with regard to the historical evidence or methodology of your project.

When I was in Nebraska in May for a site visit to Scotts Bluff National Monument, I noticed many businesses named after their owners, who had surnames of distinct German and Czech origin. As I have begun research for my essay on Mobility, Settlement, and Tourism, I am exploring patterns of migration and mobility in Nebraska and the Scottsbluff vicinity in particular from early settlement through the present. One of the major eras of migration occurred in the 1870s through the early 1900s, as thousands of homesteaders poured into the Great Plains to take advantage of 160-acre parcels from the U.S. government under the Homestead Act. While many of these homesteaders were native-born Americans, thousands more were immigrants from England, Ireland, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Scandinavia, and Russia (ethnic Germans from the Volga River and Black Sea regions of Russia). These immigrants infused the Great Plains with their rich culture in ways that can still be seen today, such as in the plethora of foreign-sounding business names in western Nebraska. I found the many informative essays in Ethnicity on the Great Plains by Frederick C. Luebke to be just the tip of the iceberg in revealing the rich ethnic makeup of the region.

Why did these immigrants flock to the Great Plains? Many people have noted the harsh environment of the region, from the constant wind, the lack of trees, and the scarcity of water to the threat of tornadoes, prairie fires, drought, grasshopper plagues, and blizzards. The Great Plains is a land of extremes, and western Nebraska is no exception. Boosters and promoters claimed that “rain follows the plow” in a glowing effort to demonstrate that the Great Plains was not really the Great American Desert, and only needed the hard work of homesteaders cultivating the sod to make the region into a lush paradise. In hindsight, we know that the plow did not bring rain. Part of the problem was a failure on the part of promoters and homesteaders to fully recognize and appreciate the beautiful but fragile ecosystem of the Great Plains. They needed to develop ways to use the land in accordance with its fragility and not in the same way that farmers had been using lands in the more temperate Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys. It is a lesson we are still learning today: despite our hardest efforts, we cannot tame the land. We can only work with it.

This is perhaps what some homesteaders learned if they managed to persevere on the Plains and not abandon their land after the first few hard years. Steven Kinsella, in his book 900 Miles from Nowhere: Voices from the Homestead Frontier, has combed archives across the Great Plains to present just a sampling of the many letters and diaries from Great Plains homesteaders. As I read the words of these determined men and women, I felt their love for the land, despite every challenge it threw at them. Perhaps most profound was a letter written by Lars A. Stavig, a Norwegian immigrant who settled with his family in Dakota Territory. He wrote a letter to his brother, Knudt Stavig, back in Norway, encouraging him to immigrate to America. Stavig did not write about the Plains in glowing words as a land flowing with milk and honey. He honestly admitted that life there required hard work and brought many challenges. Yet Stavig was content. He firmly believed that struggling in America was far better than struggling in Norway. He wrote: “I lived in Norway for 32 years and I have now lived in America for 12 years and I can see the difference. I think you would be doing the right thing by coming to America…. I am not living in the most convenient place in America, but you must decide where you want to go. Don’t decide not to come because you don’t like where I live and feel that you have to come here. America also has problems just as Norway does, but there is a difference in their problems. You can be poor in America as well as Norway. In the beginning it is the worst, before you are situated and have made some money. … Dear brother, if you come everything would work out alright for you just as for the million others who come to America every year.” ⃰ People like Lars Stavig were the men and women who built the Great Plains. It was their determination and perseverance that enabled them to live contented, if not prosperous, lives. For those who learned to love and appreciate the land, and whose families still live on the land today, they did indeed discover that it would “work out alright.”

⃰ Lars A. Stavig to Knudt Stavig, from Nutley, Dakota Territory, August 5, 1888. L. M. Stavig and Harold Torness Collection, 1881-1949, p. 106-25, Center for Western Studies, Augustana College. Quoted in Kinsella, Steven R. 900 Miles from Nowhere: Voices from the Homestead Frontier (St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2006), 174, 176.

4. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

I will be continuing to work on edits to the Migration I essay, and hope to have it completed in the next two weeks. I will also be continuing to work through the sources on my reading list for the Mobility essay.


Progress Report: Chapter 6: “Rivers and Irrigation”

by Doug Sheflin

August 8, 2014

1. What were your plans for this reporting period? If you had a “to do” list, please include it here.

I planned to finish a draft of the essay on rivers and irrigation in the monument and in the region more generally.

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period. For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed. Please indicate as well where you have posted your notes and bibliographies.

I finished a rough draft of the essay, which required some additional secondary and primary research.  I focused much of that effort on looking at primary sources.  I spent some time at the NARA Rocky Mountain facility with Bureau of Reclamation records, particularly those that pertained to the North Platte Project.  I also expanded my list of diaries and journals from migrants to bolster what I had previously done in terms of evaluating their perspectives of the river.  I plan to amend my bibliography and expand my “notes” section in the coming days.

3. Please explain in narrative form the highlights of your work in the current reporting period, highlighting what you learned with regard to the historical evidence or methodology of your project.

The definite highlight was writing the draft.  I found myself significantly constrained by trying to construct a solid narrative that covers so much time within the confines of a word count.  That problem speaks to the depth and diversity of the subject, which I think suggests that the history of utilizing, managing, and eventually controlling the river is truly provocative.

I tried to present the history by looking at how different peoples have presented various visions of their relationship with the river, and how those visions influenced how they approached it.  That is to say that diverse peoples (American Indians, fur traders, migrants on the trail, settlers and irrigators, conservationists) developed relationships with the river based on their expectations of its use.  Traders saw it as a highway, for example, while irrigators have viewed the river as a silver bullet that could mitigate drought and facilitate agricultural production, and conservationists have criticized irrigators for irrevocably changing the river’s flow and threatening its existence.  Drawing the analysis forward in time proved somewhat difficult but I hope that I have been able to identify some of the ways that conflicting approaches to the river have dictated humans’ association with it.  That association continues to evolve as some Americans reconsider how they value the environment, in this case the wetlands and river ecosystem of the Platte and its tributaries, and what they hope to gain from the river.

4. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

I am currently reviewing other essay drafts and preparing to offer comments.

I am also beginning to do some preliminary research for an essay on homesteading broadly conceived.  I anticipate that my study of settlement will overlap with the work on rivers, but I want to offer a fresh perspective on migrants’ desire to settle in the Panhandle as well as their attempts to do so in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  This section will likely integrate dual foci, one that attends to the efforts of “outsiders” (including the federal government and railroad companies) to promote settlement, and one that evaluates the settlers and homesteaders themselves.  My hope is that this essay will present a better picture of the relationship between migration and settlement that seems to typify so much about the monument and the area more generally.  I should have a rudimentary bibliography done in a few days and might have a chance to get into the reading a bit.


Progress Report: Chapter 8 “Mobility, Settlement, & Tourism
by Hannah Braun
August 8, 2014

1. What were your plans for this reporting period? If you had a “to do” list, please include it here.

My goal was to read through Nic Gunvaldson’s essay, work on my book list for the Mobility essay, and, if time allowed, begin looking at some of the books on the list.

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period. For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed. Please indicate as well where you have posted your notes and bibliographies.

I spent most of the last two weeks working on my other PLHC project, and so logged relatively few hours on the Scotts Bluff project. I worked on a book list for the Mobility essay and checked out many of the books from the library, but was unable to begin reading any of them. I read through Nic Gunvaldson’s essay and offered a few comments. As per discussion in the last project team meeting, I also discussed a second round of comments on the MSU film script with Doug Sheflin, and emailed him my suggested rewrite for finalization before the changes are sent on to Tom Schaff at Scotts Bluff.

3. Please explain in narrative form the highlights of your work in the current reporting period, highlighting what you learned with regard to the historical evidence or methodology of your project.

The biggest highlight of the last two weeks was getting to read Nic’s essay and appreciating all the work and research that he put into the writing!

4. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

I will be meeting with Ruth Alexander on August 13th to discuss my approach and conceptualization for the essay on mobility. I also hope to get through at least two books on my book list in the next two weeks. I am also hoping to make some initial edits and revisions to my migration essay.


Progress Report: Chapter 2 “Native Americans in the Contact Period”

by Andrew Cabrall

August 8, 2014

1. What were your plans for this reporting period? If you had a “to do” list, please include it here.

My plans for this reporting period were to continue researching secondary source material concerning tribal histories as well as contact between Native Americans and the overland emigrants, violent or otherwise.

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period. For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed. Please indicate as well where you have posted your notes and bibliographies.

Gibbon, Guy. The Sioux: The Dakota and Lakota Nations. Hoboken: Blackwell Publishing, 2003.

Richter, Daniel. Facing East from Indian Country. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001.

Hurtado, Albert, and Peter Iverson. Major Problems in American Indian History, Second Edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001.

Paul, Eli. The Nebraska Indian Wars Reader 1865 – 1877 . University of Nebraska Press: Lincoln, 1998.

West, Elliott. The Contested Plains: Indians, Goldseekers, and the Rush to Colorado. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1998.

All book notes may be found on dropbox.

3. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

During the next two-week reporting period I intend to spend the first week finishing the last bit of secondary source research on the tribes and trade networks, then run through primary sources for corroborating evidence and quotes.  The second of the two weeks will be devoted to writing the rough draft report.


Progress Report: Chapter 3 “Native Americans in the Post-Settlement Period”

by Jordan Cooper

July 26, 2014

1. What were your plans for this reporting period? If you had a “to do” list, please include it here.

  • Read and take notes on Paul, R. Eli. The Nebraska Indian Wars Reader, 1865-1877. Lincoln, Neb.: University of Nebraska Press, 1998.
  • Read and take notes on The Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of the Americans. Cambridge, England; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
  • Read and take notes on: Cobb, Daniel M. and Fowler, Loretta. Beyond Red Power: American Indian Politics and Activism Since 1900. Santa Fe, N.M.: School for Advanced Research, 2007.
  • Read and take notes on: Hansen, Karen V. Encounter on the Great Plains: Scandinavian Settlers and the Dispossession of Dakota Indians, 1890-1930. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period. For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed. Please indicate as well where you have posted your notes and bibliographies.

I finished The Nebraska Indian Wars Reader, 1865-1877, a collection of essays edited by Paul R. Eli. The detailed notes can be found in the DropBox Main folder labeled “American Indians Post Settlement,” then in the sub folder “notes,” followed by the folder “book notes.” Additionally, I could not find The Cambridge History so I instead read Encyclopedia of Plains Indians by David Wishart. Notes can be found in the same location as The Nebraska Indian Wars Reader. I also finished (and greatly enjoyed) Encounter on the Great Plains: Scandinavian Settlers and the Dispossession of Dakota Indians, 1890-1930. I also picked up the last half of David Wishart’s Unspeakable Sadness: The Disposition of Nebraska Indians, as only the later half pertained to my topic. I will be handing the book over to Andrew Cabral as his topic is covered in the first bit of the book.

On top of getting through a good number of books, I also began collecting articles from Jstor- a few of which pertain to Quakers, who seem to have been important to the reservation era.

Furthermore, I added a number of important events and cases to our website’s chronology. While I realize that the chronology is for Scotts Bluff, I wanted to add important national events that affected American Indians who may have connects to Scotts Bluff. (If needed we can delete some of these dates; I do have a running list which will be helpful for creating a comprehensive creative that hopefully explains national events that affected local ones).

3. Please explain in narrative form the highlights of your work in the current reporting period, highlighting what you learned with regard to the historical evidence or methodology of your project.

I am finally getting a sense of which tribes were in Nebraska as I delve into research. It turns out that it is more of a challenge to “find” tribes than anticipated, especially those around the Scotts Bluff area. The challenge is mostly to do with that fact that the time period I am dealing with begins with the relocation of American Indians. Often times, it appears, Indians who were located around the Scotts Bluff area were most often moved to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The lack evidence for American Indians living in or near Scotts Bluff from 1870 onward is proving to be a challenge, but it certainly sheds light on the fact that for over a hundred years their history has been largely silenced.

4. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

I currently have a stack of 12 articles ranging in topic from Quaker involvement on reservations to themes of modern cultural identity. These articles will be my first task.

I also plan to begin fine tuning my research. Previously, I had been reading secondary sources to get a basic idea of events; now that I have that I plan to attack my research much more systematically. I plan to research each topic (reservation era, “Indian New Deal,” AIM, and casinos) of my paper one at a time and also write the correlating piece. This means that I will be looking for a few more works concerning the reservation era for the next week. The second week I hope to write the section on the reservation era. Finding primary sources will also be on the to do list.

5. Please let us know if you would like to meet with a faculty PI or research supervisor in person, or if you need guidance in selecting research materials, planning a research trip, planning or writing an essay, or any other task. We are flexible, available, and eager to help.

Yesterday’s meeting was wonderful! I will be in touch with Hannah concerning this topic (reservation era) and then with Doug in relation to the Indian New Deal era.


Progress Report: Chapter 4 “Migrants in Pursuit of a Better Life”

by Hannah Braun

July 25, 2014

1. What were your plans for this reporting period? If you had a “to do” list, please include it here.

My goal for this period was to complete edits to a final draft of my Migration I essay (Migrants in Pursuit of a Better Life).

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period. For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed. Please indicate as well where you have posted your notes and bibliographies.

I spent most of last week editing my final draft of the Migration I essay. This draft is now completed and ready for edits and comments from the PI’s and rest of the project team. The draft is saved as a Word doc and a PDF on the P: drive and the Dropbox.

Although over the next few weeks I will be primarily concentrating my efforts on my Wild West shows NHL project for the PLHC, I am preparing to begin reading for my next essay, covering Mobility, Settlement, and Tourism in the western Nebraska/Scotts Bluff region. I have compiled a rough list of books to look over and read for this essay. This book list is saved on the P: drive and the Dropbox.

3. Please explain in narrative form the highlights of your work in the current reporting period, highlighting what you learned with regard to the historical evidence or methodology of your project.

As I set out to research and write my essay on the overland emigrants in terms of who they were, why they set out, and how they prepared, I anticipated discovering a multi-faceted group of people. I believed that some of the old history written about the emigrants was far too monolithic, and that surely these people were more diverse, coming from a wide range of geographic regions, ethnicities, races, nationalities, religions, and socio-economic conditions. While most emigrants were from the Midwest, they came from every state of the Union and from multiple countries. While most were white, they also included a small number of African-Americans. While many were Protestants or Catholics, a large number were Mormon. While most were middle-class, many were poor and others were wealthy. While most emigrants went west for gold or land, others were simply looking for adventure.

By the time I completed the essay, I had confirmed that the overland emigrants were far from a monolithic group, instead coming from an array of backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences. Even their specific reasons for emigrating covered a huge spectrum—every individual came to their own conclusion about emigration based on unique reasons, motivations, desires, and values. Yet I discovered that this diverse group of people had one major thing in common: they were all emigrating for opportunity. That opportunity looked different from person to person. For one it was the opportunity to own land. For another the opportunity to escape debt. For still others it was the opportunity to become wealthy, to move up the social ranks, to cast off the burdensome restrictions of society, to practice their religion without interference, to travel and see the country. Regardless, they all traveled for the opportunity.

Emigrants in the mid-1800s moved west in search of opportunities to improve and enrich their lives in some way. In many ways, Americans have not changed. Despite its flaws, we still cling to the idea of the “American dream.” We pursue economic and social opportunity and improvement through a wide variety of means, such as getting a college education, buying a home or car, and having a successful career. In many ways, we have not changed much from Americans of the 1800s, even if their versions of economic and social opportunity meant owning a farm or staking claim to a gold mine. Discoveries like these are what make studying history so rich to me. I enjoy being able to close the gap between myself and people who lived hundreds of years ago by discovering the commonalities we share. History is not musty old documents and dead men’s bones. It is alive with the stories of fascinating people not so unlike you and me, who may have done different things in our lives but who still shared many of the same goals and motivations.

4. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

I will be focusing primarily on my other PLHC project over the next two weeks, but hope to begin to look through at least a couple books on my list for the mobility essay.

5. Please let us know if you would like to meet with a faculty PI or research supervisor in person, or if you need guidance in selecting research materials, planning a research trip, planning or writing an essay, or any other task.

I look forward to the team’s comments and edits to the Migration I essay over the coming weeks!


Progress Report: Chapter 2 “Native Americans in the Contact Period”

By Andrew Cabrall

July 25, 2014

1. What were your plans for this reporting period?  If you had a “to do” list, please include it here.

My plans for this reporting period were to finally begin full time work on this project.  More specifically, I planned on examining the role of the adoption of the horse amongst the Great Plains tribes, the role of the fur trade on interactions between Native Americans and non-Natives, and to begin researching some of the specific tribes which will be examined in the final essay.

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period.  For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed. Please indicate as well where you have posted your notes and bibliographies.

All of the notes mentioned below may be found on the SCBL Dropbox.  Books examined this week (I was only able to begin work during the second week of the reporting period) include:

West, Elliott. The Contested Plains: Indians, Goldseekers, and the Rush to Colorado. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1998.

Gibbon, Guy. The Sioux: The Dakota and Lakota Nations. Hoboken: Blackwell Publishing, 2003.

Neusius, Sarah, and Timothy Gross. Seeking Our Past: An Introduction to North American Archaeology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

3. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

Over the next two-week reporting period, I plan to continue researching the impacts of the fur trade and adoption of the horse on Native American society.  Additionally, I will endeavor to research the lifeways and interactions of the Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Pawnee over the next two weeks, representing some of the more active tribes in the Nebraska area.  Ideally, I will be ready to begin outlining my paper by the end of the next reporting period, which will leave two weeks for writing.


Progress Report: Chapter 5 “Encountering the Unfamiliar”

By Nic Gunvaldson

July 15, 2014

1. What were your plans for this reporting period? If you had a “to do” list, please include it here.

My plan for the last reporting period was simply to begin writing a complete draft of my essay, “Encountering the Unfamiliar,” and to compose a bibliography and image appendix for that same essay.

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period. For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed. Please indicate as well where you have posted your notes and bibliographies.

Over the course of the two weeks, I wrote approximately 20,000 words only to boil that number down to 10,861(excluding footnotes). I composed my essay into five parts: (1) an introduction that laid out my argument, a brief historiography, and the usefulness of a borderlands/environmental thematic, (2) a section titled, “Knowing the West,” that focused on emigrants perceptions of themselves along the trail, (3) a section titled, “Celebration and Stone,” that focused on the geologic monuments along the trail and acculturated beliefs that were proudly evoked in the stonework, (4) a section titled, “The Coming Storm,” which focused on how Native Americans and the environment became associated together in the mind of the emigrant, and (5) a conclusion. I also finished formatting my essay, with the aforementioned bibliography and image appendix. My latest draft file can be located in my folder on the dropbox in either PDF or .Doc form.

3. Please explain in narrative form the highlights of your work in the current reporting period, highlighting what you learned with regard to the historical evidence or methodology of your project.

Composing an essay like this is both rigorous and constantly exciting. I love being able to draw connections between ostensibly disparate peoples and share in their feelings of extreme awe, of terrible pain, and their constant propensity to hope. Several diarists in particular, Winfield Ebey, Kate Dunlap, and Lucia Everett, commented on so many different things and their voices are largely what bind my three sections together. It has been a joy to watch them “encounter the unfamiliar” in ways that were consistently similar, despite their differences in sex, class, and time-period.

In particular, I have learned that traditional analytical modes like gender, race, and class become less-useful when looking at an event like the overland migrations. These emigrants, despite how prepared they might have been for the crossing, largely encountered everything on the trail at the same time, blurring those different facets together, and always with the environment at the center. In this way, emigrant fears of an attack by Native Americans are associated with hostile weather systems, or landforms like Independence Rock conjoin with protestations of nationalism. My methodology has focused on this intertwined, and imminently new, perception of the frontier landscape and its peoples in combination with the social borderlands that they were constantly attempting to recreate around them.

4. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

At this point, my project is almost complete. While I wait for comments and critique from Dr. Alexander and others, I plan on doing research for my masters thesis. My remaining time on this project will be spent altering, editing, and smoothing out my essay so that it meshes well with my fellows who are (with the exception of Hannah) just beginning the writing process. I anticipate that when they complete their work in 5-8 weeks I’ll then step back into the project.

5. Please let us know if you would like to meet with a faculty PI or research supervisor in person, or if you need guidance in selecting research materials, planning a research trip, planning or writing an essay, or any other task. We are flexible, available, and eager to help.

Sounds good! I’m meeting with Dr. Alexander at 2pm on Thursday (7/17) to discuss my current draft, and look for ways to condense my essay down to approximately 8,000 words.


Progress Report: Chapter 3 “Native Americans in the Post-Settlement Period”

Jordan Cooper

July 11, 2014

1. What were your plans for this reporting period? If you had a “to do” list, please include it here.

• Finish reading and notes taking on Lindquist, Mark A. and Zanger, Martin. Buried Roots and Indestructible Seeds: the Survival of American Indian Life in Story, History, and Spirit. Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press, 1994.
• Read and take notes on Luebeke, Frederick C. Nebraska: An Illustrated History. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1995.
• Read and take notes on: The Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of the Americas. Cambridge, England; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period. For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed. Please indicate as well where you have posted your notes and bibliographies.

I was able to finish and taking notes on both Buried Roots and Indestructible Seeds: the Survival of American Indian Life in Story, History, and Spirit and Nebraska: An Illustrated History. The notes are located in the Scotts Bluff DropBox Folder 3: “American Indians Post Settlement” and are labeled accordingly. Furthermore, I updated my annotated bibliography (found in the same aforementioned folder). The annotations summarize the book as well as explain what information was helpful for further research. Additionally, I added these works to the master bibliography of the project.

3. Please explain in narrative form the highlights of your work in the current reporting period, highlighting what you learned with regard to the historical evidence or methodology of your project.

Mark Lindquist and Martin Zanger’s work Buried Roots and Indestructible Seeds: the Survival of American Indian Life in Story, History, and Spirit, was a collection of essays, many of which are centered around story telling. The introduction made the claim, “that the very act of making a story, in its creation of meaning, is an act of survival. Thus both the interpretations of experience and the creative stories of this volume not only trace the endurance of tribal people, but also contribute to their continuance” (5). This idea stood out to me and has me excited to explore the connection of storytelling and cultural survival- something that is important for my area of study within this project. As I am researching Native Americans post-white settlement, Lindquist and Zanger’s idea about Native’s survival is one that is important to the continuation and adaptations faced by Indians, their ways of life, religion, and culture.

4. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

As summer classes concluded on July 11th I am looking forward to really delving in and making progress with my secondary research over the next two weeks.
• Read and take notes on: Paul, R. Eli. The Nebraska Indian Wars Reader, 1865-1877. Lincoln, Neb.: University of Nebraska Press, 1998.
• Read and take notes on: The Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of the Americas. Cambridge, England; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
• Read and take notes on: Cobb, Daniel M. and Fowler, Loretta. Beyond Red Power: American Indian Politics and Activism Since 1900. Santa Fe, N.M.: School for Advanced Research, 2007.
• Read and take notes on: Hansen, Karen V. Encounter on the Great Plains: Scandinavian Settlers and the Dispossession of Dakota Indians, 1890-1930. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013

5. Please let us know if you would like to meet with a faculty PI or research supervisor in person, or if you need guidance in selecting research materials, planning a research trip, planning or writing an essay, or any other task. We are flexible, available, and eager to help.

As of now I do not feel the need for assistance, but am looking forward to delving into more material at a much faster rate now that summer classes have concluded.


Progress Report: Chapter 4 “Migrants in Pursuit of a Better Life”

By Hannah Braun

July 11, 2014

1. What were your plans for this reporting period? If you had a “to do” list, please include it here.

My goals for this period were to select primary sources to incorporate into the Migration I essay (Migrants in Pursuit of a Better Life) and complete a rough preliminary draft of the essay.

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period. For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed. Please indicate as well where you have posted your notes and bibliographies.

I looked through the digital images of the Henderson Collection that Joel Scherer and Andrew Cabrall took last year during their visit to the Legacy of the Plains Museum in Gering. I selected some of the diaries, journals, and recollections that applied to the scope of my essay. I also looked through the online database Trails of Hope: Overland Diaries and Letters, 1846-1869, part of Brigham Young University’s Harold B. Lee Library Digital Collections (http://overlandtrails.lib.byu.edu). This database has digital images and full transcripts of dozens of trail diaries, journals, and letters, as well as several guidebooks. I found a number of pertinent primary sources to supplement what I found in the Henderson Collection. BYU’s collections were very helpful for this project.

My primary effort over the last two weeks was taking my extensive notes on the secondary source literature and compiling a rough draft of the Migration I essay (Migrants in Pursuit of a Better Life). I have completed a very rough draft of the entire essay, but still need to perform extensive editing and incorporate primary sources from the Henderson Collection and BYU. About the first third or half of the essay has been cleaned up and edited, and is in secondary draft form minus the primary sources.

All of my notes on the primary sources from the Henderson Collection and BYU, as well as several drafts of the essay, are saved on the Dropbox and P: drive.

3. Please explain in narrative form the highlights of your work in the current reporting period, highlighting what you learned with regard to the historical evidence or methodology of your project.

As I was reading diaries, journals, and letters in the Henderson Collection and BYU’s Digital Collections, I was struck by how few migrants give a back-story on why they chose to migrate. Many of them simply launch into their journey, announcing in the first entry that they have set out from this or that jumping-off place on their way to the West. Why did so few elaborate on where they came from, what they used to do for a living, and why they wanted to migrate in the first place? I discussed this conundrum with my fellow researcher Nic Gunvaldson, since he has also been studying emigrant diaries. He concluded that emigrants understood that the overland journey was a special, important, even epic event. Most of them wrote diaries so share with family and friends back east, or even a national audience, via publication or reprinting in newspapers. Few seemed to be concerned with the lives they left behind—they wanted to share what was happening to them in the present and what they looked forward to for the future.

Historians place events and decisions within a broader context of the times in which those events and decisions took place. Doing so frames the arguments we make, while guarding us from taking people’s words and actions out of their historical, cultural, social, political, or religious contexts. It can be frustrating when people in the past leave few clues about the context of who they were and where they came from. Ultimately, however, it can lead to an exciting treasure hunt as we carefully piece together small details and hints to create a broader picture of the people we study. In the same way, as I have researched overland migration I have found little hints here and there that explain why some of these diarists chose to migrate and what kind of life they left behind. In many ways, their reasons for not including their past lives in their diaries make sense. Americans are a mobile, forward-thinking people. We tend to stress the importance of progress and the possibilities of the future while forgetting or only casually memorializing our past. In the same way, the Americans who traveled overland were lured by the bright promise of a better future and new social and economic opportunities. Many of them were leaving behind their old lives for a good reason. The lives they were living were hard, challenging, fraught with economic dead-ends, lack of advancement and opportunity, debt, and even prejudice. By traveling overland, they were hoping to leave all that behind them and embrace the American dream of a better life and fresh opportunities. As historians, we cannot blame these people for focusing predominantly on their future and not their past. At the same time, we cannot fully understand their fascination with the future until we begin to put together the pieces of their past. What they sought to gain was so monumental because of what they sought to leave.

4. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

I plan to continue and finish the extensive edits on my rough draft, incorporate the rest of my primary source material, and have a finished final draft completed by the end of two weeks.


Progress Report: Chapter 2 “Native Americans in the Contact Period”

By Andrew Cabrall

July 11, 2014

1. What were your plans for this reporting period?  If you had a “to do” list, please include it here.

My plans for this reporting period were to continue working on my Spring 2014 semester classes and I have been focusing on completing term papers.  As such, I was not able to log any hours for this project.

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period.  For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed. Please indicate as well where you have posted your notes and bibliographies.

I was unable to log any hours during this reporting period and did not analyze any sources.

3. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

During the next two weeks, I hope to complete my Spring 2014 classes by the 25th of July, as that would leave the remaining five weeks of the summer break for me to work on this project full time, completing my hours before the beginning of the next semester.


Progress Report: Chapter 2 “Native Americans in the Contact Period”

By Andrew Cabrall

July 3, 2014

1. What were your plans for this reporting period?  If you had a “to do” list, please include it here.

My plans for this reporting period were to focus on completing a research term paper for my Historic Archaeology class from the Spring 2014 semester.  As such, I was not able to log any hours for this project.

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period.  For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed. Please indicate as well where you have posted your notes and bibliographies.

Although I was unable to log any hours during this last reporting period, I spent a little time refining the broad outline of my eventual writing piece, developing some of the ideas discussed during my meeting with Dr. Sheflin several weeks ago.

3. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

As I have five weeks of full time hours allocated for this project, I plan on beginning to work full time on this by the end of the next reporting period, ideally having completed my course work from the Spring 2014 semester by then.


Progress Report: Chapter 6: “Rivers and Irrigation”

By Doug Sheflin

June 27, 2014

1. What were your plans for this reporting period?  If you had a “to do” list, please include it here.

My plan was to deal more with the essay on rivers and irrigation.  I wanted to move beyond the era most familiar to me and delve into the post-World War II period as well as the situation pre-1900 (including the trail phase)

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period.  For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed. Please indicate as well where you have posted your notes and bibliographies.

I conducted some administrative duties during this period, including meeting with Andrew, reading Joel’s essay as well as Hannah’s proposed outline, and scanning the graduate student progress reports.

In terms of my focus, I spent some time reading secondary works on Native Americans in Nebraska.  I’m hoping to have a more refined list this upcoming cycle, but I started by reviewing a few old texts that I had not read in some time, including Richard White’s Roots of Dependency and Andrew Isenberg’s The Destruction of the Bison.  I have just started Loretta Fowler’s The Columbia Guide to American Indians of the Great Plains and should have notes up on Dropbox in the next couple of days.

I have also looked into trail histories more closely, scanning several works by Merrill Mattes, Faragher’s Women and Men on the Overland Trail, Robert Utley’s A Life Wild and Perilous, and Michael Tate’s Indians and Emigrants.  I’ve also looked through Unruh’s The Plains Across.  I’m still working to put my notes together on these works, but the documentation will be patchy since these books were often sparse in their coverage of material pertinent to the project.  I have also started to hunt for more primary documents that cover this period, primarily by conducting key word searches in Archives Unbound.  Per Ruth’s reminder this past week, I also started to peruse the Henderson collection Finding Aid to evaluate what I might locate in those records.

Finally, I found a few works on the sugar beet industry during the postwar period.  The most important of which is a case study done by the Extension Service on the migration of “Texas Mexicans” (Carl D. Davenport’s “Texas Mexicans in Sugar Beets, Vegetables, Fruits, Grains”) into Nebraska just after the war ended.  I hope that I can build on that at some point to discuss the continued impact irrigation has on agriculture (and certainly demographics) in the Valley.

3. Please explain in narrative form the highlights of your work in the current reporting period, highlighting what you learned with regard to the historical evidence or methodology of your project.

I continue to be amazed at how much work Merrill Mattes put into studying the history of the trails and of Scotts Bluff specifically.  He seemed to have an inexhaustible curiosity about the emigrants and devoted much of his life to bringing their perspectives to light.  His familiarity with the diaries and documents remains unparalleled.  His personal records are kept at the University of Wyoming archives but the scope of this project does not offer much reason to make the trip.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading emigrants’ diaries and guidebooks.  Their coverage of the journey, the surprising level of devotion they had to their task of transcribing their experiences, and the benefit that we accrue from being able to access these documents are remarkable.  Unfortunately, I am so enthralled by their memoirs that I find myself reading too far into material that has no relevance to my search whatsoever.  This is probably as much an indication of their value as it is my interest in the project.

4. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

I will move more fully into the literature on the trail and pre-trail periods.  I expect that a colleague will have a fairly informative list for me that will likely satisfy my need to look into secondary sources.  I will also look more closely into the primary sources from that period.

I need to visit NARA and get a bit more on the North Platte Project.  I have a few organizational histories of Reclamation that deal with it, but I’d like to get into the records.

I should be able to create a workable outline by the end of this period.  I have been forming it in my brain as I have moved through the research, but of course putting it on paper is often more challenging.  I will plan to share that with Ruth when it is completed.


Progress Report: Chapter 3 “Native Americans in the Post-Settlement Period”

By Jordan Cooper

June 27th, 2014

1. What were your plans for this reporting period? If you had a “to do” list, please include it here.

• Finish Loretta Fowler’s work, Tribal Sovereignty and the Historical Imagination: Cheyenne-Arapaho Politics
• Spend time exploring and taking notes on the Nebraskastudies.org’s website
• Start after my reading bibliography:
o Bancroft-Hunt, Norman. The Indians of the Great Plains. New York: Morrow, 1982.
o Barrington, Linda. The Other Side of the Frontier: Economic Explorations into Native American History. Boulder, Colo: Westview Press, 1999.
o Calloway, Colin G. Pen and Ink Witchcraft: Treaties and Treaty Making in American Indian History. http://discovery.library.colostate.edu/Record/.b40915670.

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period. For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed. Please indicate as well where you have posted your notes and bibliographies.

I finished Fowler’s book, Tribal Sovereignty and the Historical Imagination: Cheyenne-Arapaho Politics– notes are posted in the Dropbox folder. This book was helpful in creating questions to look up about Indians specific to Nebraska (the topic of this book was Arapaho and Cheyenne in Oklahoma). It listed many treaties, which I will be investigating in the next two weeks; looking into NE’s history will help (see next paragraph).

I also met with Dr. Alexander to prioritize my work. In addition to this, we added a few texts to look up on the history of Nebraska to help me create working knowledge on the political context in which many of the relations between the natives and whites took place.

I have continued to add to my bibliography and annotate it as I go. This can also be found in the Dropbox. Added to the bibliography are new websites including Scott Bluff’s, Outdoornebraska.ne.gov, Nebraskastudies.org. For all of these websites, I have annotated them on the bibliography.

I also created a document labeled “Questions and Sources to Explore Further”—which can be found in the Dropbox. This is a running list that I will continually add to and try to seek answers to. Any comments and feedback on this document would be greatly appreciated.

Another task that will be a continual project is that I am accumulating events and dates to add to our website. Currently, it is a document because I discovered that I do not have editing/adding power on our WordPress (will be emailing Dr. Hawkins when finished with this report).

Lastly, I started reading Lindquist, Mark A. and Zanger, Martin. Buried Roots and Indestructible Seeds: the Survival of American Indian Life in Story, History, and Spirit. Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press, 1994. This book is small and will only take a few hours. It is a collection of essays written mostly by Native, academic scholars. (It needs to be returned to Prospector by July 9th is why I am reading it now).

3. Please explain in narrative form the highlights of your work in the current reporting period, highlighting what you learned with regard to the historical evidence or methodology of your project.

I found it very interesting looking through Scott’s Bluff’s website and noticing that there is hardly any mention of natives whatsoever. I am excited for the opportunity to add to it.

Fowler’s book, Tribal Sovereignty and the Historical Imagination: Cheyenne-Arapaho Politics, was interesting because looked as and raised many important questions concerning the numerous levels of political power and influence dealing with Cheyenne and Arapaho peoples in Oklahoma. I am interesting to see if all of the layers (tribal councils, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and numerous other organizations) are or have historically been in place in NE and specifically around Scott’s Bluff.

Fowler’s work also discusses the ways in which social gatherings, specifically powwows and various dances, are more than events for socializing. According to Fowler, these events are important for political, familial, communal, spiritual, and financial elements of Arapaho and Cheyenne peoples. I think that it will be important to continue to look for the interconnectedness between politics (of all levels- local, intertribal, and federal) and the various other elements of Natives’ culture and society.

4. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

In the next working period I plan to accomplish:
o Finishing reading and notes on Lindquist, Mark A. and Zanger, Martin. Buried Roots and Indestructible Seeds: the Survival of American Indian Life in Story, History, and Spirit. Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press, 1994.
o Read and take notes on Luebeke, Frederick C. Nebraska: An Illustrated History. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1995. (needs to be returned to Prospector by July 17th)
o Read and take notes on: The Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of the Americas. Cambridge, England; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
o Assuming I can plow through the other works, I hope to additionally read and take notes on: Paul, R. Eli. The Nebraska Indian Wars Reader, 1865-1877. Lincoln, Neb.: University of Nebraska Press, 1998.

5. Please let us know if you would like to meet with a faculty PI or research supervisor in person, or if you need guidance in selecting research materials, planning a research trip, planning or writing an essay, or any other task. We are flexible, available, and eager to help.

After meeting with Dr. Alexander last week I feel good about my direction.


Progress Report: Chapter 5 “Encountering the Unfamiliar”

By Nic Gunvaldson

June 27, 2014

1. What were your plans for this reporting period? If you had a “to do” list, please include it here.

My plans for this two-week reporting period were quite simple. First, I was to review the primary source data that I had previously collected, take notes, and enter that into a “master document” where I could easily access and analyze the data. From there, I would begin outlining my essay.

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period. For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed. Please indicate as well where you have posted your notes and bibliographies.

After working through the diaries and memoires found at the Scotts Bluff Museum, I looked at other online databases – most notably the North American Women’s Letters and Diary database online. I sorted the information within these diaries into subject headings like “Environment, Social, Death,” etc. that I thought would prove most useful. Here, some accounts were transcribed, and others were simply photo scans of diaries which sped and slowed the process respectively.

Following that process, which took about 6 of the 10 work days, I sorted that data into the two largest thematic groups (social and environmental accounts). With this framework in place, I began to sketch a tentative overarching thesis, and mini-theses for each section in both thematic groups. For example, within the Environment Section, the part on Flora and Fauna was broadly conceived under this mini-thesis:

“Exotic and bizarre, female migrants looked at flora and fauna to find semblances of the home and the familiar, while men saw them as obstacles to be overcome and conquered.”

Now that I have the two sections outlined (more-or-less) I can proceed to wed them together into a fully integrative essay.

All of my notes can be found on the Drop Box.

3. Please explain in narrative form the highlights of your work in the current reporting period, highlighting what you learned with regard to the historical evidence or methodology of your project.

The highlight of this period, and I dare say the highlight of the entire project so far, has been turning, page by page, through the primary source materials. Some diarists wrote exceedingly well and with great imagination, describing the natural and social events surrounding them with great vigor. Others, equally interesting, were far more spartan – recording the quality of the grass, the miles traveled, and the cost of buying food from the nearby Sioux. Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of reading through these diary entries, was looking for the echoes of travelers who made the overland journey many years beforehand, as well as those who were simply several miles ahead. In the same way that throwing a handful of pebbles into a pond will create many overlapping ripples, these diaries—while inherently individualistic—were nevertheless part of a great social movement that connected radically different peoples to a radically unfamiliar place. Finding these kinds of connections has been a truly rewarding experience.

4. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

I am nearing the phase where I begin composing my first draft of my essay on “Encountering the Unfamiliar.” My first step however, will be to integrate my two thematic outlines into one full-outline of the essay. I expect this process to take at least a day, or maybe two.

Following that, I will need to make sure that I have enough evidence for each aspect in order to have the strongest argument. I feel that I am close right now, but there are some spots that could use some additional substantiation – namely the LDS section and the Water section.

Once the scaffolding is in place, I’ll start construction. By the end of this period I should have a draft ready for review and revision. I expect it will number between 8-10,000 words allowing me plenty of space to edit and move things around.


Progress Report: Chapter 4 “Migrants in Pursuit of a Better Life”

By Hannah Braun

June 26, 2014

1. What were your plans for this reporting period? If you had a “to do” list, please include it here.

My goal was to finish working through the secondary sources on my reading list and prepare to start outlining how I would like to construct the essay.

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period. For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed. Please indicate as well where you have posted your notes and bibliographies.

I finished looking through all of the secondary source material on my reading list. I read and took notes on the following thirteen books and journal articles:

• “Women’s Frontier Diaries: Writing For Good Reason” by Gayle R. Davis
Desert Between the Mountains: Mormons, Miners, Padres, Mountain Men, and the Opening of the Great Basin, 1772-1869 by Michael S. Durham
• “Women and Their Families On the Overland Trail to California and Oregon, 1842-1867” by Johnny Faragher and Christine Stansell
Writing the Trail: Five Women’s Frontier Narratives by Deborah Lawrence
The Great Platte River Road: The Covered Wagon Mainline Via Fort Kearney to Fort Laramie by Merrill J. Mattes
Children’s Voices from the Trail: Narratives of the Platte River Road by Rosemary Gudmundson Palmer
• “Unwelcome Settlers: Black and Mulatto Oregon Pioneers,” Parts 1&2, by K. Keith Richard
Devil’s Gate: Brigham Young and the Great Mormon Handcart Tragedy by David Roberts
Days of Gold: The California Gold Rush and the American Nation by Malcolm J. Rohrbough
The Plains Across: The Overland Emigrants and the Trans-Mississippi West,1840-60 by John D. Unruh
The Health of the Country: How American Settlers Understood Themselves and Their Land by Conevery Bolton Valencius
Southern Seed, Northern Soil: African American Farm Communities in the Midwest, 1765-1900 by Stephen A. Vincent
Exiles in a Land of Liberty: Mormons in America, 1830-1846 by Kenneth H. Winn

All of my book notes and the annotated bibliography are saved on the Dropbox and P: drive. Some of the other books I had planned to read turned out not to be relevant for this essay and so I did not look through them in depth. I also have written a draft of the essay outline and will begin writing the essay later this week.

3. Please explain in narrative form the highlights of your work in the current reporting period, highlighting what you learned with regard to the historical evidence or methodology of your project.

African Americans made up a small minority of overland travelers. Many were slaves who traveled with their masters and then often received their freedom. There were a few small but flourishing communities of free blacks that formed in the Midwest in the 1830s and 1840s, but very few of these people chose to migrate to Oregon or California. Many had been free farmers in the upper South and had migrated to the Midwest to escape rising racial tensions. For them, the land in the Midwest was generally good enough, and because they were relatively poor, most were unable to afford to make the journey to the West. Thus there was little incentive to migrate until later in the century when they chose to move to urban areas for the economic opportunity.

A larger minority group among the overland travelers was European immigrants. Most of these people were poor converts to Mormonism from England, Scotland, Wales, and Scandinavia (particularly Denmark). The Mormon church assisted in gathering these people to Zion by giving them loans to pay for sea travel to the U.S. and then overland travel from Iowa to Utah. Aside from these migrants, it seems relatively few recent immigrants migrated overland to Oregon, probably due to financial hardship.

My most interesting discoveries in this reporting period were in studying the role of print media in overland migrations. John Unruh’s monograph, The Plains Across, was an excellent resource in this regard. In today’s age of internet and mass media, we often forget that Americans in the nineteenth century also received much of their information from print media. Many families depended on letters from family and friends to inform them of the lands and opportunities available to the west, but they also used newspapers, published reports, and guidebooks to learn about the West and make decisions and plans to migrate overland. Although the most vocal aspects of boosterism were still to come later in the nineteenth century, the mid-1800s was rife with newspaper publicity and public relations campaigns focused on directing migrants to settle in certain locations, leave from certain outfitting towns, travel certain routes, and take with them a variety of equipment calculated to make the journey or arrival easier. Would-be travelers voraciously devoured the information published in the newspapers, which especially in the early decades printed information weekly or even daily about the overland experience. The newspapers reprinted letters and reports from those who had already traveled the trails, advertised the best jumping-off places and the latest guidebooks, and offered advice on every detail from when to leave to what to bring to how to form a company and write a constitution. In the very early years in the 1840s travelers had to learn as they went and depended much more heavily on traders and trappers for information and direction. By later in the decade and throughout the 1850s, so much had been written and published about the overland experience that travelers had an enormous amount of information they could sort through and utilize, even if some of it was boosterism, exaggeration, or down-right falsehood. While such information did not necessarily make the journey less long, dangerous, or grueling, certainly would-be travelers were assured by reading of all those who had already gone ahead, and taking into account the advice offered by letters, newspapers, and guidebooks to hopefully make the journey as successful as possible.

4. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

I plan to edit my essay outline after receiving feedback, and spend the next two weeks writing a draft of the essay and looking at any additional sources that may come up.

5. Please let us know if you would like to meet with a faculty PI or research supervisor in person, or if you need guidance in selecting research materials, planning a research trip, planning or writing an essay, or any other task. We are flexible, available, and eager to help.

Although I am for the most part done with my research for the Migration I essay, I am still keeping an eye out for useful sources. I have been particularly disappointed by the relative lack of information about African Americans and immigrants (aside from European converts to Mormonism) traveling overland. There are some hints here and there, and both groups were very small in number so I do not expect to find much, but if anyone has leads, I would like to explore these areas further. I also would like to discuss my outline for the essay and the early process of organizing the writing.


Progress Report: Chapter 3 “Native Americans in the Post-Settlement Period”

By Jordan Cooper

June 13, 2014

 1. What were your plans for this reporting period? If you had a “to do” list, please include it here.

My plan for this reporting period was to essentially get started on the project, since I’ve been busy with summer school. To do list included:
• Finish: Fowler, Loretta. Tribal Sovereignty and the Historical Imagination: Cheyenne-Arapaho Politics. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2002.
• Get the oral history training I previously missed
• Meet with Dr. Alexander about my reading list

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period. For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed. Please indicate as well where you have posted your notes and bibliographies.

This reporting period I was fortunate enough to sit in on a discussion with Mitch Schaffer about Mormonism and their movement into the West. Although I had previously considered the interactions between Christians and Native American, I had not thought about Mormon specifically. I am now aware of possible interactions between Mormons and the Natives around the Scott’s Bluff area. I plan to look further into concrete interactions between the two cultural groups.
With the discussion about Mormons I found two review articles about interactions between Mormons and Natives. One of the texts, Dan Moos’ Outside America: Race, Ethnicity, and the Role of the American West in National Belonging, may prove useful when I get further in my background reading. This text discusses the ways in which Native Americans and Mormons were subjected to some of the same exclusions from “standard” Americans.

I also met up with Naomi Gerakios Mucci to be trained on how to properly conduct oral histories. This was a very useful meeting as I hope to be able to conduct some oral histories with Native Americans from Scott’s Bluff later this summer. I have a set of handwritten notes that I will convert to digital files and shared on the drop box in the next few days.
Additionally, I met with Dr. Alexander and discussed more sources. We decided that I would create a reading bibliography that she can look them over and help me decide what to read, add, or subtract from the list. This list can be found in the Dropbox.

I made some headway on Loretta Fowler’s work, Tribal Sovereignty and the Historical Imagination: Cheyenne-Arapaho Politics, but did not finish it yet. Notes will be made available for the work later this next week.
Also, because I had not previously had much time because of summer classes, I dedicated some time to thoroughly reading emails sent between the project members so that I am up to speed with as much as possible.

3. Please explain in narrative form the highlights of your work in the current reporting period, highlighting what you learned with regard to the historical evidence or methodology of your project.

There were two highlights to my last two weeks. I thoroughly enjoyed speaking with both Mitch Schaffer and Naomi Gerakios Mucci.

Mitch’s talk about Mormons, their basic beliefs and history in additional to their westward migration provided me with a new perspective. Although I was aware of Christians and some of their relations with Natives, I had not thought about the different ways in which the various religious groups individually interacted with Native Americans. Because of this conversation I will be aware of the impacts Mormons may or may not have had on the Indians found around Scott’s Bluff.

My second highlight was learning about how to properly conduct oral histories with Naomi. She provided me with great tips about the lengthy and important process of conducting these histories in a way that will benefit my research and hopefully foster relationships for future projects. It will be interesting to gather oral histories while also gaining professional experience.

4. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

• Finish Loretta Fowler’s work, Tribal Sovereignty and the Historical Imagination: Cheyenne-Arapaho Politics
• Spend time exploring and taking notes on the Nebraskastudies.org’s website
• Start after my reading bibliography:
o Bancroft-Hunt, Norman. The Indians of the Great Plains. New York: Morrow, 1982.
o Barrington, Linda. The Other Side of the Frontier: Economic Explorations into Native American History. Boulder, Colo: Westview Press, 1999.
o Calloway, Colin G. Pen and Ink Witchcraft: Treaties and Treaty Making in American Indian History. http://discovery.library.colostate.edu/Record/.b40915670.

5. Please let us know if you would like to meet with a faculty PI or research supervisor in person, or if you need guidance in selecting research materials, planning a research trip, planning or writing an essay, or any other task. We are flexible, available, and eager to help.

As Dr. Alexander and I discussed, I’d appreciate feedback on my tentative reading list. All changes, additions or deletions are welcomes by any researches who can be of assistance.


Progress Report: Chapter 6 “Rivers and Irrigation”

By Doug Sheflin

June 15, 2014

 1. What were your plans for this reporting period?  If you had a “to do” list, please include it here.

My general plan included looking into the secondary sources pertinent to the chapter on the North Platte River and irrigation in the area.  I am most familiar with the twentieth century, so I focused on the early 1900s to better acclimate myself to the history of the region as an initial foray into this essay.

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period.  For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed. Please indicate as well where you have posted your notes and bibliographies (P: drive; Scotts Bluff DropBox; Flood Oral History Dropbox, etc.)

Part of my focus this period has been on the general history of the region, particularly the very personal histories of the area authored by A.B. Hand.  Hand established the Gering Courier shortly after his arrival in the region and recorded his memories of the region, including the formation of Gering and Scottsbluff, histories of white migrants to the area, the development of industry, and importance of agriculture to the Panhandle.  I also scanned a compilation of short essays on the region edited by Thomas L. Green as part of the Scottsbluff Golden Jubilee Celebration.  While all of these works are dated and reflect the authors’ affinity for the area, they nonetheless supply a very personal perspective of the region’s history.  Hand’s memories are also valuable in that he was very much part of the area’s development and recorded his personal connections and interactions with founding families.

I have started to search for and identify potential primary sources.  I visited the CU-Boulder archives and spent time becoming familiar with the records for the Great Western Sugar Company.  Great Western opened a refinery in Scottsbluff in 1910 and in Gering in 1916, and very much propelled the sugar beet boom in the Valley.  Their records, while generally too financial and bureaucratic to be of much use in constructing a provocative narrative, are helpful in providing an overview of the beet boom, a description of how the company navigated the perilous 1920s and 1930s, and what it did to prosper in the post-World War II period.  There are also records that deal more extensively with the labor issue, particularly in terms of Great Western’s attempts to lure migrant labor to the region.  I will be getting deeper into that element as I go forward with the project.

I made contact with a few folks who will likely help me become more fluent with the history of the river and irrigation in the area.  Eric Bittner, archivist at the National Archives and Record Administration-Rocky Mountain, reports that the Bureau of Reclamation records include a significant amount of material that deals with the North Platte Project.  The Project reflected the first major push by the federal government to expand irrigation in the arid West after Congress passed the Newlands Act in 1902.  It should hopefully bear fruit as I deal with the influx of outside intervention – in the form of both private capital and government support – that facilitated the growth of big irrigation projects in the Panhandle.

I reached out to a colleague more familiar with the history of Native Americans in the region, since my own understanding of the area’s history before 1900 is limited.  Denny Smith, Associate Professor at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, has done considerable work in Native American history and should be a tremendous resource going forward as I try to consider humans’ relationship with the river in the pre-trail period.

3. Please explain in narrative form the highlights of your work in the current reporting period, highlighting what you learned with regard to the historical evidence or methodology of your project.

The highlight of this period has been getting into the archives, especially in terms of getting a handle on the Great Western records.  Several historians have dealt with Great Western’s history, but the archivist at CU assures me that few of them have spent much, if any, time with the records that they have in Boulder.  I found important histories of the refineries in Scottsbluff and Gering, identified prominent locals farmers and industrialists who played roles in expanding beet operations in the area, started to better understand the labor issues caused by the beet boom, and begun to corner the importance of the river and irrigation projects to the whole development of agriculture in the region.  It is refreshing, and exciting, to be able to now recognize names of prominent Nebraska families and start to trace their impact on the area.  This increasing familiarity with the social history of the area should be of benefit to not only this piece of the project but to my other essays as well.

4. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

I am planning to meet with Eric Bittner later this week to review the finding aid for the North Platte Project.  I am also going to continue reading relevant secondary sources as I home in on Native Americans’ use of the river and their experience in the region before the trail period.


Progress Report: Chapter 2 “Native Americans in the Contact Period”

By  Andrew Cabrall

June 15, 2014

 1. What were your plans for this reporting period? If you had a “to do” list, please include it here.

My plans for this reporting period were to evaluate secondary source material in an attempt to lay out basic historical information for each of the Native American tribes active in the Scotts Bluff area during the 1800s.

 2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period. For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed. Please indicate as well where you have posted your notes and bibliographies (P: drive; Scotts Bluff DropBox; Flood Oral History Dropbox, etc.)

Neusius, Sarah, and Timothy Gross. Seeking Our Past: An Introduction to North American Archaeology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Seeking Our Past has been a wonderful resource for establishing basic timelines and factual information concerning the Native American tribes in the Scotts Bluff region.   Although the title is nominally an introductory archaeology book, it has a very solid historical foundation and has proved to be incredibly useful, as many historically-oriented books focus exclusively on Native American interactions with white settlers or are wholly outside of our temporal or geographic areas of examination. Notes in progress can be found on the Scotts Bluff DropBox.

Gibbon, Guy. The Sioux: The Dakota and Lakota Nations. Hoboken: Blackwell Publishing, 2003.

I have only just begun to examine this source, though it appears that it will prove to be very helpful in establishing background information for the Lakota and Dakota groups. Notes will be uploaded to the Scotts Bluff DropBox

3. Please explain in narrative form the highlights of your work in the current reporting period, highlighting what you learned with regard to the historical evidence or methodology of your project.

During the past reporting period, I still had to focus much of my efforts on completing course work from the Spring 2014 semester. This said, I was able to establish which areas of the tribal histories (and to a certain extent, historiography) I need to examine in greater detail. In addition to this, I was able to begin drawing on the similarities and differences between the various tribal groups to deepen my personal understanding of the subject matter and to begin conceptualizing the timeline of Native American trans-continental movements in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as well as the ways which these migrations impacted modern-day Nebraska during the nineteenth century.

 4. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

During the next reporting period I will continue to research tribal histories through secondary source analysis, my hope being that after establishing a solid historical context for the area tribes a thorough examination of primary sources will be more meaningful.


Progress Report: Chapter 5 “Encountering the Unfamiliar”

By Nic Gunvaldson

June 13, 2014

 1. What were your plans for this reporting period? If you had a “to do” list, please include it here.

My primary goals for the last two weeks were to begin looking at the many primary source diaries extant in online databases and my own files, as well as continue to comb through the copious secondary source literature.

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period. For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed. Please indicate as well where you have posted your notes and bibliographies (P: drive; Scotts Bluff DropBox; Flood Oral History Dropbox, etc.)

During this two week period I focused more on how historians, and scholars of women more generally, have theorized the great nineteenth century overland crossings. In particular, I was looking at how women and other minorities understood their experiences and how they expressed them in ways that were different from men. In different ways, the following authors demonstrate the power of domesticity ideologies as well as its malleability for individual women encountering “uncivilized” landscapes and particularly sites of male-culture (e.g. the overland trails, mining camps, etc…).

Alexander, Soul Butter and Hog Wash (1978)
Myres, Westering Women (1982)
Riley, The Spectre of a Savage (1984)
Schlissel, Western Women (1988)
West, Growing Up with the Country (1989)
Floyd, Writing the Pioneer Woman (2002)
Lawrence, Writing the Trail (2006)

In addition, I examined and noted the following primary sources and found that they all comment on the mysterious death of Hiram Scott:

Jasow Lee, Diary (1834)
William M. Audessow, Diary (1834)
Myra Eells, Diary (1838)

My notes can be found in the dropbox folders.

3. Please explain in narrative form the highlights of your work in the current reporting period, highlighting what you learned with regard to the historical evidence or methodology of your project.

In particular, the most eye-opening and enjoyable part of the last two-week reporting period would be, without a doubt, my read-through of Sandra Myres, Westering Women which excelled in demonstrating the many competing narratives of emigration that occupied women, and informed them of the world they were soon to move through and settle. It was not easy for many women to leave the comforts of eastern American and travel to a socially anomalous region that threatened to change them in fundamental ways. Westering women’s responses to these social and environmental challenges were not homogenous, as Myres ably demonstrates, and moreover the desiderata of trail life made some women act in ways that were seemingly contradictory to the tenets of nineteenth century woman’s culture. The language these women used to reconcile these issues, as well as how men perceived these outward projections of eastern psycho-social baggage, are demonstrative of identity transformations in progress.

While Anglo-American women emigrated West for a variety of reasons, and from a multitude of places (and as Hannah notes – in a series of small jumps), they nevertheless fervently maintained their position as the home-maker, and perhaps internally, continued to see themselves as capable of civilizing the western environment, Native Americans, as well as rough-shod western men. It is important to not take these generalizations as entirely rigid, for many women deviated from these ideals, yet most women still recorded their thoughts and actions within this discourse of domesticity. Significantly, especially in the face of the mostly-male years of 1849-50, men demonstrate that they also were socialized to understand the language of domesticity, and this framework informed their expectations of what trail life and settlement would look like. As I move forward in the next reporting period, I will continue to bear in mind how “multi-placed” the historic reality actually was, as well as the implications of confrontations between emigrants and tribes, emigrants and Mormons, emigrants and other emigrants, emigrants and the army, and finally between emigrants and the environment.

4. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

There are several more scholarly works that I would like to read in the next reporting period:

Kolodny, The Land Before Her (1984)
Levy, They Saw the Elephant (1992)
Riley, Prairie Voices (1996)
Riley, Taking Land, Breaking Land (2003)
Bagley, With Golden Visions Right Before Them (2012)

I am also planning on writing a tentative, preliminary outline of my forthcoming essay that will allow me to start thinking about internal structure and how to synthesize the vast majority of literature already extant. Part of this process will be a greater look at the hundreds of diaries and reminisces extant on the web and otherwise in order to flesh-out, with original research hopefully, the myriad challenges and responses to overland migration.


Progress Report: Chapter 4 “In Pursuit of a Better Life”

By Hannah Braun

June 13, 2014

 1. What were your plans for this reporting period? If you had a “to do” list, please include it here.

My goal was to continue to work through the secondary sources on my reading list, with special concentration on those sources dealing with where the emigrants came from.

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period. For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed. Please indicate as well where you have posted your notes and bibliographies.

I was able to get through six books and most of a seventh. I read and took notes on the following books:
To Their Own Soil: Agriculture in the Antebellum North by Jeremy Atack and Fred Bateman
Sugar Creek: Life on the Illinois Prairie by John Mack Faragher
Women and Men on the Overland Trail by John Mack Faragher
Our Common Country: Family Farming, Culture, and Community in the Nineteenth-Century Midwest by Susan Sessions Rugh
From Pioneering to Persevering: Family Farming in Indiana to 1880 by Paul Salstrom
Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey by Lillian Schlissel

I am still working through The Great Platte River Road: The Covered Wagon Mainline Via Fort Kearney to Fort Laramie by Merrill J. Mattes.

All of my book notes and the annotated bibliography are saved on the Dropbox and P: drive.

3. Please explain in narrative form the highlights of your work in the current reporting period, highlighting what you learned with regard to the historical evidence or methodology of your project.

What struck me while reading through the secondary sources is both how localized emigration on the Overland Trail was, and how frequently these people moved. While migrants on the Overland Trail certainly did come from all over the eastern, southern, and central U.S., the highest numbers came from the more-recently settled Midwestern states, particularly Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Since these states were opened for settlement as part of the Northwest Ordinance and most migrants moved there between the 1810s and 1830s, I found it unusual that in only a few decades many of them were moving on to Oregon or California.

Furthermore, this was not the first time most of them had moved. In many cases, their parents or grandparents had migrated from New England to Appalachia. Then their parents or they themselves moved from the Appalachian states of the upland Carolinas, Tennessee, and Kentucky into the southern regions of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Within a decade or two, many of them then moved again, this time to the central or northern regions of those states. Then they would make the biggest move yet: from the Midwest all the way to the Pacific Coast. Thus for many of these people, the Overland Trail was the second or third move of their lives, depending upon their age.

By reading a number of sources that focus on the settlement and agriculture of the Midwest, particularly John Mack Faragher’s Sugar Creek: Life on the Illinois Prairie, Susan Sessions Rugh’s Our Common Country: Family Farming, Culture, and Community in the Nineteenth-Century Midwest, and Paul Salstrom’s From Pioneering to Preserving: Family Farming in Indiana to 1880, I was able to begin to develop of picture of why these moves were so frequent. Issues such as rapidly increasing land prices, overcrowding, an economic slump leading to falling crop prices, families splitting land into parcels too small to provide a living for their children, and soil depletion and erosion all combined to push many migrants on to cheaper, more open parcels of land. First they found these to the northwest, in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, but when these problems began appearing within a few decades in the Midwest, many families chose to move on to Oregon or California rather than attempt to persevere in the Midwest.

4. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

In the next two weeks, I will continue to read through the last of the secondary sources on my reading list. So far a lot of what I have been finding indicates the homogeneity of Overland Trail migrants—most seem to have been white Anglo-Saxons from the Midwest. I will be reading a few sources on the Mormons, which breaks up some of this homogenous picture, and I am also hoping to find more indications on whether many African-Americans or recent European immigrants migrated overland between the 1840s and 1860s, or if most of them came later. If they weren’t migrating this early, I hope to discover why.

Some of the remaining secondary sources I hope to look at in the next two weeks include:
Born in the Country: A History of Rural America by David B. Danbom
Desert Between the Mountains: Mormons, Miners, Padres, Mountain Men, and the Opening of the Great Basin, 1772-1869 by Michael S. Durham
They Saw the Elephant: Women in the California Gold Rush by Jo Ann Levy
Children’s Voices from the Trail: Narratives of the Platte River Road by Rosemary Gudmundson Palmer
Devil’s Gate: Brigham Young and the Great Mormon Handcart Tragedy by David Roberts
Days of Gold: The California Gold Rush and the American Nation by Malcolm J. Rohrbough
The Health of the Country: How American Settlers Understood Themselves and Their Land by Conevery Bolton Valencius
Southern Seed, Northern Soil: African-American Farm Communities in the Midwest, 1765-1900 by Stephen A. Vincent
Exiles in a Land of Liberty: Mormons in America, 1830-1846 by Kenneth H. Winn


Progress Report: Chapter 4 “In Pursuit of a Better Life”

By Hannah Braun

June 2, 2014

 1. What were your plans for this reporting period? If you had a “to do” list, please include it here.

My goal was to compile a reading list of materials for my Migration I essay, and, if time permitted, begin to explore Gale and Alexander Street online databases to locate other useful sources. I also planned to read John Mack Faragher’s Women and Men on the Overland Trail. If I could complete Faragher, then I would move on to reading Conevery Bolton Valencius’ The Health of the Country: How American Settlers Understood Themselves and Their Land. This reporting period also fell during the Scotts Bluff project team’s site visit to the monument, so I scheduled two days of touring the monument and conducting research.

 2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period. For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed. Please indicate as well where you have posted your notes and bibliographies.

Prior to the start of this past two week reporting period, I read through all the documents saved on the P: drive that related to the project, including all administrative files, the 2008 Long Range Interpretive Plan, and the OAH reviews of the LRIP. I also read Joel Scherer’s historiography essay and Andrew Cabrall’s irrigation essay to provide some context for the project and what research has already been performed.

I met with Dr. Ruth Alexander to discuss my essay assignments for the Scotts Bluff project and next steps for reading materials and compiling research. I began to put together a book list for the Migration I essay, which is the first essay I will be tackling, although I am also collecting books and research material for the other essays. This book list is a starting point that I will add to as time goes on. This book list is on the P: drive and the Scotts Bluff Dropbox, and an updated version of the list will be saved in both locations this week. I am also attaching it with this progress report.

I spent a lot of time in the past two weeks doing research for my Wild West Shows NHL project in order to prepare for my site visit for that project, so I was unable to get to as much Scotts Bluff reading as I had hoped. However, I have started Faragher’s Women and Men on the Overland Trail and am several chapters in. I plan to have it finished in another day or so, and from there move on to other books on my list. I am taking notes on Faragher, and those will be included with the next progress report. The notes will be uploaded to the P: drive and the Dropbox later this week.

Dr. Ruth Alexander, Maren Bzdek, Nic Gunvaldson, and I spent two days on a site visit to Scotts Bluff to meet with the staff, tour the monument, and conduct preliminary research. We made contacts, found a treasure-trove of materials for research, and were able to better conceptualize the project. The notes and materials collected during this trip are now either at the PLHC office in hard copy, or in the process of being uploaded to the P: drive and Dropbox.

3. Please explain in narrative form the highlights of your work in the current reporting period, highlighting what you learned with regard to the historical evidence or methodology of your project.

The highlight of the past two weeks was getting to spend two days on a site visit to Scotts Bluff National Monument. As a cultural landscape historian, it is very important for me to see the places I am researching and writing about to give me perspective, comprehend the site better, and discover new questions to ask and new ways of formulating my research. Having the opportunity to see Scotts Bluff was very useful for thinking about conceptualizing the landscape, the geography encountered by emigrants, and the geologic change over time.

I was particularly struck by the uniqueness of the monument in contrast to the flat agricultural land all around it. Being able to visually discover how much of a landmark Scotts Bluff would have been to the overland emigrants was very powerful. I have much more of an appreciation for the sights and landmarks identified by emigrants now that I have had the opportunity to see the monument from their perspective.

The geology of the monument stood out to me as quite unique compared to the rest of the landscape. I look forward to working on the geology essay and incorporating themes such as erosion and change over time. I would love to incorporate historic photographs and drawings into my research showing how erosion has changed the shape and size of promontories at the monument in the past two hundred years. Being able to observe the stratigraphy of the rock and how the Brule clay erodes faster than the limestone was a very tangible object lesson that helps make geology a more approachable subject to the layperson. Tangible and visual observations like these are exactly the kinds of things I now know I want to incorporate into the geology essay.

The site visit also made me aware of new potential subjects to explore in the monument/community relationship, especially in terms of water use/irrigation, land management, and viewshed. Several conversations we had with staff revealed the tension in the monument’s relationship with the three ditch companies whose canals cross monument land. This will be a very important story to incorporate into my essay on the monument/community relationship. I was also struck by the proximity of development to the monument land. It was beautiful to be able to stand at the monument summit and see across both Gering and Scottsbluff and the surrounding agricultural land, but at the same time it underscored the fact that this is in many ways an urban site. A compromised viewshed and encroaching development are issues that a number of other NPS sites also deal with, and these are issues that I also want to touch on in the essays.

The trip was also a wonderful opportunity for myself and the rest of the project team to meet the monument staff and seasonal employees and talk to them about our project and work at the monument. I was very encouraged by their excitement and interest in the project, appreciated their insights, ideas, and feedback, and look forward to being able to work collaboratively with them in the months to come. We also had the special treat of getting to meet Jason Kenworthy from the National Park Service’s Geologic Resources Division in Denver. He too was very interested in our project and offered his assistance. He will prove to be an invaluable contact for us, particularly when I begin work on the geology chapter for the project.

4. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

In the next two weeks, I will make sure all the materials collected on the Scotts Bluff site visit are saved on the P: drive and Dropbox. I will also go through my notes and look up titles of books, reports, and other publications that we found in our site research and hope to be able to locate at CSU or through Prospector. If any of these materials cannot be located here, I will add them to a list so the team knows what needs to be copied or photographed on a return site visit.

I will finish reading and taking notes on Faragher’s Women and Men on the Overland Trail, and then move on to other materials on my book list. I hope to read and take notes on the following other books in the next two weeks:
• Mattes, Merrill J. The Great Platte River Road: The Covered Wagon Mainline Via Fort Kearney to Fort Laramie.
• Palmer, Rosemary Gudmundson. Children’s Voices from the Trail: Narratives of the Platte River Road.
• Rohrbough, Malcolm J. Days of Gold: The California Gold Rush and the American Nation.
• Schlissel, Lillian. Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey.
• Valencius, Conevery Bolton. The Health of the Country: How American Settlers Understood Themselves and Their Land.


Progress Report: Chapter 3 “American Indians: Contact Period”

By Andrew Cabrall

June 1, 2014

 1. What were your plans for this reporting period?  If you had a “to do” list, please include it here.

I had not planned on beginning work on the Scotts Bluff project during this reporting period as I have been focused on completing my classwork left over from my incompletes in the Spring 2014 semester.

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period.  For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed. Please indicate as well where you have posted your notes and bibliographies.

I did not evaluate any new sources during this reporting period.

3. Please explain in narrative form the highlights of your work in the current reporting period, highlighting what you learned with regard to the historical evidence or methodology of your project.

The highlight of my work on the Scotts Bluff project during this reporting period was sitting down with Nic Gunvaldson and establishing which sources in Scottsbluff had already been evaluated, which locations were likely to have useful sources on site which we have not examined yet, and filling him in with a very basic narrative timeline of the town’s history.

4. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

During the next reporting period, I plan to begin work on evaluating my backlog of secondary source material.  I will still not be able to begin full-time work on the project yet, but plan on working at least 20 hours within the next two weeks.


Progress Report: Chapter 5 “Encountering the Unfamiliar”

By Nic Gunvaldson

May 30, 2014

 1. What were your plans for this reporting period? If you had a “to do” list, please include it here.

During this reporting period I was tasked with reading an assortment of books and articles (“to do list” included below) from the Migration Bibliography compiled by Joel Scherer that appeared to offer insight into women’s experiences on the trail. As I progressed through these materials, I took careful notes of larger themes and trends in source materials that focused primarily on my own research into family groups and social, cultural, and environmental challenges they faced journeying from the Missouri River to the West, writ large. For all sources I examined, I was tasked with providing annotations in addition to notes.

Read: Faragher, Men and Women on the Overland Trail; Merril Mattes, The Great Platte River Road; John Phillip Reid, Policing the Elephant; Elliot West, Growing up with the Country; Moynihan Article, etc…

Work through Scherer Bibliography, checking sources previously read with initials, adding new sources, starting to annotate.

Begin to compile primary source citations from the secondary sources you’re reading and from Joel’s essay, both published and on-line. Look at databases mentioned in Joel’s essay that contain hundreds of migrant diaries.

Prioritize order of reading for sources discussed and listed in Joel’s essay for your next two-week period of work.

2. Describe in annotated list form what you actually accomplished during the reporting period. For example, list the books or articles that you read and took notes on; bibliographies compiled and annotated; primary sources located or examined; contacts made; research trips conducted; other tasks begun or completed. Please indicate as well where you have posted your notes and bibliographies.

With the exception of Elliot West’s Growing up in America, which CSU’s library only has in digital form (I have ordered a hard copy through ILL), I was able to read through the monographs located above along with a few extras: I also read Susan Cummins Miller, A Sweet, Separate Intimacy (2000) and Patricia Limerick et. all, Trails to a New Western History (1993). While waiting for Elliot West’s book I have also begun looking at Sandra L. Myres, Westering Women (1982) and Susan Badger Doyle and Fred W. Dykes ed., The 1854 Oregon Trail Diary of Winfrield Scott Ebey (1997).

I was similarly successful in working through a bevy of articles relating to the overland experience. These include, Carter, “Sometimes When I Hear the Winds Sigh,” (1995); Susan Lee Johnson, “’A Memory Sweet to Soldiers,’” (1993), “Nail This To Your Door,” (2010); Sarah Keyes, “’Like A Roaring Lion,’” (2009); Ruth Barnes Moynihan, “Children and Young People on the Overland Trail,” (1975); Conevery Bolton Valencius, “Gender and the Economy of Health on the Santa Fe Trail,” (2004).

The online database of emigrant diaries has proven incredibly useful in seeing what kinds of primary source materials are available as well as their general scope of information. Furthermore, during a recent research trip to Scotts Bluff Museum and Visitors Center with Ruth Alexander, Maren Bzdek, and Hannah Braun I was able to find a multitude of emigrant diaries and journals copied and/or transcribed by Merrill Mattes nearly fifty years ago. The members over at the Scotts Bluff Monument were incredibly helpful and I look forward to working with them in the months to come.

*My notes and photographs of my research during this last two-week period will be available shortly in DropBox as well as in the P: Drive.

3. Please explain in narrative form the highlights of your work in the current reporting period, highlighting what you learned with regard to the historical evidence or methodology of your project.

Two major experiences in the last two weeks have greatly informed my study and appreciation of Scotts Bluff and its many years of history.

The First would be largely intellectual. In the Susan Lee Johnson article mentioned above, she cites Sandoval and her “synergetic theory of differential consciousness” that emphasizes how identity can adapt, shift, and transform in order to navigate the myriad landscape of gender/power hierarchies. While neither Johnson or Sandoval are explicitly looking at the Overland Trail and its travelers, I feel this theory applies itself well especially in examining conditions along the trail that forced Eastern sensibilities and gender relations to adapt to a western landscape that made those old relationship of power increasingly untenable (at least for the duration of the journey). This theory focuses on three tracts: (1) the strength to commit to an identity (male/female, east/west, etc…), (2) the flexibility to transform that identity (e.g. costumes and religious custom), and (3) the grace to recognize alliances when readings of power call for alternative interpretations. The single word of “performativity,” while useful, does not fully evoke in my opinion the pressures placed on emigrants to change and stay the same in their epic journey across the continent.

My second experience was my recent (I just returned yesterday!) research trip to the Scotts Bluff Monument in western Nebraska. For many emigrants, these geological formations were the most impressive landmarks they had seen in nearly a month of travel across the undulating grass prairie. While I approached from the opposite direction, the effect from the top was no-less staggering when looking east at what emigrants appropriately described as an “ocean” of grass. Within the museum vault I was able to actually touch the many extant objects of material culture (weapons, tools, metal fragments) and mentally connect these items to their mention in diaries and journals. These objects are of incredible importance to understanding the Overland Trail experience because in many ways they kept cultural connections to Eastern identities alive. What objects proved (or were perceived as) most important, and what objects where discarded en route, are representative of a unique and elusive American emigrant mindset.

4. Please provide a list or description of what you plan to accomplish during the next two-week report period.

In the next two-week period I plan on continuing to work through the secondary source materials although with particularly emphasis on gathering together and organizing primary source materials. First I will work through the diaries that I photographed at Scotts Bluff before moving more deeply into the emigrant diary database and evidence shown in secondary sources. I will continue to make fervent notes and annotations for each source I examine and within Joel’s bibliography.

5. Please let us know if you would like to meet with a faculty PI or research supervisor in person, or if you need guidance in selecting research materials, planning a research trip, planning or writing an essay, or any other task. We are flexible, available, and eager to help.

I certainly will – I feel confident in progressing forward with the abundance of source materials in front of me.

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