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Education and Outreach|American Heritage Center

Wyoming History Day: Skill-building for Statistics


Wyoming State Board of Education Content & Performance Standard:

  • Social Studies--Production, Distribution, and Consumption
  • Social Studies--Time, Continuity, and Change
  • Social Studies--People, Places, and Environment
  • Social Studies--Processes and Skills

Learner Outcomes:

  • Students will be able to understand statistical information and trends presented in graph format.
  • Students will also be able to understand the relationship of historical events to fluctuations in the graph.

Related Points of Discussion:

  • What are other kinds of statistics and graphs that can provide valuable historical information?

Suggested activities:

Create a bar graph reflecting the production statistics for three of the crops included in the statistical data for Graph 3. Research Wyoming weather data for the years 1990 to 1999. Does any of the information contained in the weather data account for the crop fluctuations illustrated in the student’s bar graph?

Compare the data regarding national sheep and lamb production in Graph 2 with the Wyoming statistics provided for Graph 3. Is Wyoming’s sheep industry faring better, worse, or on average when compared to national production statistics?

Research available information regarding trends in Wyoming’s sheep industry during a period comparable to Graphs 2 and 3. Newspapers, industry publications and State of Wyoming Internet listings are all possible sources. Does the information students locate support the information contained in Graphs 2 and 3?

Historical Background:

Statistics, graphs, and charts can be found in research sources. You can also gather information to make your own. Graphs can very useful in comparing historical trends of things that can be measured or counted.

The graph in this activity is a compilation of data that shows the number of farms and ranches in Wyoming in the period from 1910 to 1990. Read the following information on the historical background from 1909 to 1960 to determine what effect, if any, these events may have had on the number of farms and ranches in Wyoming.

Year(s)

Event

1909-1913

Dry-Farming increases in Wyoming

1916

Grazing Homesteads of 640 acres made available in Wyoming

1917

United States enters World War I; approximately 12,000 Wyoming men entered military service

1918

Deadly Spanish Influenza epidemic spreads to Wyoming, 780 fatalities reported

1919

Wyoming suffers severe drought; Census figures indicate15,748 farm and ranch units in Wyoming with an average size of 749.9 acres

1920-1926

Thousands of homesteaders gave up and either abandoned their lands or sold them to more successful neighbors

1927

Unusually wet year results in bumper crops in Wyoming

1929

Census figures indicate16,011 farm and ranch units in Wyoming with an average size of 1,469 acres; 3% of Wyoming’s total acreage used for farming

1930-1936

Wyoming suffers from a nearly continuos drought

1939 - 1945

Crop prices increased by 131%

1940

Wyoming’s rural population reported at 72,674; Number of Wyoming farm and ranch units 15,018, with an average size of 1,866 acres

1941

United States enters World War II

1945

"The greatest industry in the State of Wyoming is agriculture and its kindred activity, the raising of livestock, " Governor Lester C. Hunt reported to the legislature

1950

Wyoming’s rural population reported at 56,704

1951

Number of Wyoming farm and ranch units 9,705, with an average size of 3,715 acres

1960

Wyoming’s rural population reported at 48,132

Graph 1

Farm Ranch table

Follow-Up Questions:

  • What events between 1909 and 1920 might account for the increase in the number of farms and ranches in Wyoming. Why?
  • Did the number of farms and ranches in Wyoming increase, decrease or remain about the same between 1921 and 1925? What might account for this?
  • Did the number of farms and ranches in Wyoming increase, decrease or remain about the same between 1926 and 1930? What might account for this?
  • In 1929, which was more important to Wyoming’s economy, the livestock industry or farming? What data supports this conclusion?
  • Between 1930 and 1936 did the number of farms and ranches in Wyoming decline or increase? What data supports this conclusion?
  • What might account for the decline in the number of farms and ranches in Wyoming after 1940?

Statistics Activity – Appendix

Sheep Lamb table

Value Production table

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