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Teaching and Research Grant Winners

American Heritage Center


Thomas Minckley, Associate Professor, Department of Geography. Grant to develop the course, “Images of Wyoming and the West.” This is a course traditionally designed to explore the cultural and physical depiction of the Arid West while exploring the geography of the region. One of the criticisms the first explorations of the West, the Lewis and Clark expedition, was that Thomas Jefferson did not send artists on that journey to depict the landscapes those explorers encountered. This was corrected with subsequent explorations. With a series of 150th anniversaries forth coming related to the development of the West, I propose to redevelop Images of Wyoming and the West leveraging the collections at the AHC, starting with the Alfred Jacob Miller Paintings collection for the 1800s. Photographic collections depicting environment and people's activities, particularly women would be utilized in student assignments as I develop a timeline of the depiction of Wyoming and the West. Course objectives include: (1) Form a basis for interpreting nature and content on contemporary landscapes of the American West by viewing landscapes in the process of formation in the nineteenth and change in the twentieth centuries, (2) llustrate the relationships between the development of natural and cultural landscapes of Wyoming and the West and changing attitudes toward the environment over the past two centuries, (3) Compare the mythology of the "Old West" to the "New West", (4) Examine themes fundamental to understanding the region: time, space, water, peoples, and boom and bust cycles.

Robert Rust, Program in Ecology, Department of Geography. Grant to develop the course, “Wyoming’s Natural Landscapes.” Wyoming is a state of unparalleled natural diversity. While Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks receive the vast majority of recognition of Wyoming's natural landscapes, the state offers much more for citizens and tourists a like. Home to over a dozen major mountain ranges, the largest concentrations of glaciers in the lower 48, headwaters of three of the largest river systems in the United States, high desert plains, an internally draining basin and badlands that rival those of national parks, Wyoming's natural landscapes deserve a course and detailed study all to their own. Along Dr. Thomas Minckley, I am proposing to develop a course titled "Wyoming's Natural Landscapes" to be taught through the Department of Geography as a Physical Geography Block of courses. The Department Chair and the Geography faculty at large have a high level of interest in seeing this course developed and believe it would be a well-attended class for years to come. "Wyoming's Natural Landscapes" is intended to highlight the various geological features and biological assemblages that have developed in the state of Wyoming. The semester long course would consist of five major themes or modules which are to include: (1) Geomorphology, (2) Patterns of Bio geography, (3) Historical Context, (4) Landscape Disturbance, and (5) Modern human/environment relat ions. Each module would include a statewide survey of pertinent landscape features that would showcase the diversity found  within Wyoming.

Alex Vernon, Department of History. Grant to develop the course, “Reel History: Exploring American History through Popular Culture.” The scope of this new class is to demonstrate how historic pop-culture has portrayed American history. Motion pictures that propagate historical events of America's past tend to be less-than­ accurate. With significant moments of history censored, others emphasized, misrepresentations, and low-quality productions, films often misconstrue important historical messages to their audiences. Moreover, the digestibility and popularity for this medium makes American historical films a primary vehicle for historical understanding. This course is designed to not just address historical inaccuracies in films about American history, but to provide scholarly context to these significant periods of time while allowing students to unpack films they otherwise may accept as objective and accurate. To achieve this level of dissection, students will need to understand the context around films, and even go beyond the film itself. I will ask the students about the origin of the film, the directors, the actors, the imagery, symbols, hype, hysteria, context surrounding the film's production -  not just the time period it represents - the music choices, the posters, the value of the film to historians, the reason the film was made, and what makes it a biased or inaccurate film. The class will be comprised of more contemporary films that represent American history to unpack not just the connections between the film and the period it represents, but the parallels of current rhetoric as well. In Theodore Adorno's The Culture Industry, he noticed "what the masses consider leisure and pleasure (films, beaches, consumerism) is actually harming our intellectual capacities. "This course will highlight the mistakes made by accepting pop-culture as truth. Some films have glaring messages about our nation's past and its future, other's need some distilling. Some are inaccurate and designed to make money (e. g. Pearl Harbor), and some hold so much veracity they are difficult to watch (e.g. Detroit). Using films like Lincoln, 12 Years a Slave, Selma, and The Birth of a Nat ion, peppered with classics like The Grapes of Wrath and Gone with the Wind, and some essential documentaries like Fog of War, I can help students better understand one popular medium of digesting American   history. Although this is a lofty goal for an adjunct professor and mid-level college students, I believe with the assistance of the American Heritage Center's materials on motion pictures, pop-culture, and contextualizing primary sources, we can show students how films act as valuable sources for researchers. I will reinforce the idea that students should not reject movies as valuable sources of information, but to do this, I need some assistance from the AHC.


Dr. Kerry Pimblott, Assistant Professor, African American and Diaspora Studies, University of Wyoming. Teaching and Research Grant award for the project "Reimagining the West.”

Liu Suli, University of Wyoming Global and Area Studies Program. "The Development of China Studies in Postwar U.S.: A Case Study of Harold Hinton."

Dr. Renee Laegreid, University of Wyoming History Department. "Primary Resource Guide for the U.S. West between the World Wars, 1918-1941.”

Maria Anderson, University of Wyoming Creative Writing Program. "Human Exploration and the Nonhuman World: Wolfers, Geysers, and Godseekers.”


Dr. Carolyne Ryan Larson, University of Wyoming History Department. Proposal related to the AHC's Latin American collections, "Archival Research Unit, Historical Methods Course.”

Dr. Tonia A. Dousay, University of Wyoming Professional Studies. "Content Fluency through a Visual Literacy Design Activity.”


Michael Brose, Associate Proferssor, UW History Department, received a grant in the amount of $2,500 to prepare for his class "Asia through American Eyes," which will be taught during the spring 2010 semester. Dr. Brose taught this course during the spring 2003 semester. The class is based on AHC collections. Each student is assigned a collection with the task of compiling a seniorlevel research paper based on the materials in that collection. With the grant Brose hired a student researcher to determine which AHC collections concerned with the American experience in Asia will be used in the class. Brose expects this class to become a permanent upper-division offering in the History Department.

Katrina Zook, associate professor, Nicole Lamartine, assistant professor, Maureen Sorensson, instructor, UW Music Department, received $1,000 for their project "Cowgirl Songs of the Western Plains: Archival Research Resulting in Long-Term Performance and Teaching," which will result in bringing archived and underperformed repertoire to young audiences. During the project they researched the AHC's music collections for regionally significant songs that chronicle the lives, thoughts, and everyday experiences of the American Cowgirl. Their newly founded faculty vocal ensemble, The Fresh Aire Trio, performed these songs both on and off campus during the spring 2009 semester. They visited a number of high school choral programs around the state.

Cheryl Wells, associate professor, History Department, received $2,000 for her project "Suns, Moons, Clocks, and Bells: Native Americans and Time." Dr. Wells has a contract with the University of Georgia Press to write a book investigating the various processes through which Native Americans came to incorporate modern linear clock time into their older understandings of time. She argues Europeans, Americans, and Canadians unsuccessfully attempted to eradicate Native American temporalities and replace them with modern mechanical time. Wells hired a student with the grant money to assist in the research of relevant AHC collections. This research will also inform her classes, especially the pro-seminar "Comparative History of Time and Temporality."


William Bauer, Assistant Professor, History Department, for his project titled "Twentieth Century American Indian History." This coming fall he will be teaching a class with that title and he used the $3,000 to prepare for the class. The class is intended to provide students with a better understanding of the American Indian experience in the twentieth century, and to introduce them to historical research methods. Bauer's goal is to utilize AHC's archival collections in class discussions and assignments. He hired a research assistant to identify collections to be used in the class and will use some of the funding to photocopy materials and copy photographs as well.

Anthony Denzer, Assistant Professor, Civil and Architectural Engineering, for his project titled "The History and Theory of the Solar House." His large project is to write a book-length study of the history and theory of the solar house in the 20th century. The AHC holds several collections which will be of value to his research. These are John Yellot, Oskar Stonorov, and Peter Blake. He will research these collections and write a paper about John Yellot and then prepare a book about the solar house. The research in AHC's collections will be used in Denzer's class History of Architecture, which has fifty students every semester, including many non-engineering majors.


Travis Ivey, an art student at UW, will complete up to twelve paintings related to Booms and Busts on the Wyoming Landscape. He will research a number of AHC collections in order to study the many booms and busts which have occurred throughout Wyoming's history. Ivey will compare historic photographs with the present landscapes. After his research at the AHC he will visit various sites and sketch the post-boom landscapes. Half of the paintings will represent "bust" towns, old industrial sites, and abandoned equipment. The rest of the images will detail current industrial booms, boomtowns, and related industrial impacts. According to Ivey, "the ultimate goals of this project are to provide an emotional connection between the past and present Wyoming landscape and produce an archival record of the times and places." The paintings will be exhibited on campus upon completion and then travel to other Wyoming venues.

William Bauer, assistant professor, UW History Department, will receive funding for his project, "Growing Old in Indian Country: Elderly Indians in the American West." He will study how the Indian communities on Wyoming's Wind River Reservation, Colorado's Southern Ute Reservation, and California's Round Valley Reservation "incorporated elderly Indians in their social, economic, and political fabric and how the elderly created their own opportunities for survival." According to Bauer, this area of inquiry has been given little attention by historians and he expects his research to result in a book. Bauer had identified ninety-two boxes of material from a number of AHC collections which will assist in his research. He also will incorporate materials from his research in classes he teaches on campus, especially the survey of American Indian history and American Indians in the 20th Century.

Kendra Gage, instructor, UW History Department, will use the grant funds awarded to her to prepare a new class titled "History of Popular Culture," which will be taught during the fall 2007 semester. Her class will rely heavily on the many popular culture collections held by the AHC. The class will cover popular culture from the early twentieth century to present day. Students will learn about major events and trends in U.S. history and how popular culture reflects what is occurring. According to Gage, the students also "will look at how popular culture is an important part of popular expression, social instruction, and cultural conflict, and why it deserves some critical attention." Each student in the class will write a research paper based on primary sources in an AHC collection.


Carol Bryant, associate professor of secondary education, received a grant for her project "Writing Primary Source Docu-ments to Teach the Wyoming Constitution." Her students produced exhibits, based on AHC primary sources, about various aspects of the state's constitution.

James Wangberg, associate dean of academic and student programs at UW, taught the class"Agriculture: Rooted in Diversity." This was the third time Wangberg taught the class, and again his students searched AHC collections for historical photos and other primary sources related to their selected diversity topic on any aspect of agricultural history. Students presented their projects for review to interested AHC faculty and others at the conclusion of the class.

Christopher Nicholas, associate director of bands in UW's music department, is researching the career of Paul Lavalle, a noted composer, conductor, arranger, and production director, although his main focus was conducting. The AHC holds a large collection of Lavalle's papers. Nicholas' research project is titled "Paul Lavalle: Innovator, Conductor, and Showman."


Lee Wolfinbarger, a music major at UW, composed a score for a silent movie taken from the Sam Peeples Collection. Lee based the composition on the style of music from the silent film era and premiered the score on campus during June 2005. The 1921 movie, written and directed by Buster Keaton, opens with a dream sequence and Keaton plays everyone in a vaudville theater simultaneously through multiple exposures.

Carol Bryant, associate professor of secondary education, received a grant to instruct secondary education students how to incorporate primary sources into their teaching. The goals were to make the students aware of the purposes, value, and accessibility of the AHC and its many collections, to help preservice teachers to determine appropriate primary resources to use with secondary school students, and to encourage preservice teachers to recognize that teaching is a public enterprise that requires a sense of giving to one's community. Each student prepared an exhibit based on AHC materials as their final class project.

Dwayne Meadows, a master's student in the American studies program, received a grant to research Laramie's industrial history. He focused on the impacts the city's industrial heritage had on the landscape and Laramie's efforts to deal with the polluted industrial past. The project resulted in an article and Meadows plans on consulting with city officials to create an interpretation of Laramie's Greenbelt.

Patty Smith, humanities teachers at Laramie High School, developed teaching and research strategies using AHC collections to instruct humanities classes at the high school. Using AHC materials, the students created art projects, exhibits, poetry, short stories, and research papers. Patty also developed an assessment tool to assess the effectiveness of primary document based instruction on student learning within the context of current educational standards. She will present papers on her work at the 2005 annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists.

Amanda Rees, assistant visiting professor in the geography department, received a grant to support the teaching of her class "Images of Wyoming and the West." The students studied many dime novels featuring Wyoming located in the Toppan Library. The students identified common themes in the dime novels and then wrote papers comparing those books to Owen Wister's The Virginian, one of the most famous novels about the American West. The goals of the class were to have the students become familiar with the field of sensational fiction and its relevance to regionalism, examine ways in which Wyoming and the American West were portrayed in the dime novels, and to explore the hypothesis that Wister's work was a "seminal moment" in western fiction.

Dr. James Wangberg, associate dean of academic and student programs at UW, taught the class "Agriculture: Rooted in Diversity" in the College of Agriculture. Students searched AHC collections for historical photos and other primary sources related to their selected diversity topic on any aspect of agricultural history. The theme for the class was to what extent have the contributions and experiences of women and minorities been invisible and why? Students presented their projects at the AHC at the end of the semester.


Dr.Willie Bauer, UW History Department, received a grant for his course "American Indians in the North America West." The class, to be taught during the 2004-05 academic year, will be an upper-division undergraduate and/or graduate level course which will use AHC collections to study American Indians in the North American West. Each student will research one AHC collection and then prepare a research paper for the class.

Dr. James Wangberg, associate dean in the College of Agriculture, applied for a grant for the "Agriculture: Rooted in Diversity" class project. Besides the AHC grant, the class received support from the Wyoming Council for the Humanities, and the UW President's Advisory Council on Minorities and Women's Affairs. The students researched relevant AHC collections, and along with their class readings, discussions, and guest seminar speakers they produced professional exhibits. The students exhibited the results of their research at a public reception at the AHC. The displays eventually will be on permanent exhibit in various campus buildings and classrooms.

Dr. Amanda Rees, UW Geography and Recreation, had students in her "Tourism and Recreation" class research AHC collections related to dude ranching in the West. A dude ranching website, which can be accessed through the AHC's web page, resulted from the class. Rees received a 2004 grant to present a paper about the success of the class to the 2004 meeting of the American Association of Geographers, held in Philadelphia. Her session was titled "Teaching Tourism in the 21 st Century" and her paper focused on the use of historical documents in the teaching of tourism.

Landra Rezabek, associate professor in the UW College of Education, received a grant for her class "Visual Literacy for Life and Learning: Tools and Tactics for Visual Research." This class has been approved as an Information Literacy elective in the new University Studies program. Dr. Rezabek wants her students to become familiar with AHC resources, formulate appropriate research questions that can be investigated using archival materials, conduct successful searches, request the duplication of critical visuals, and produce visual displays evidencing the results of their research. This will be similar to the highly successful class taught by Jim Wangberg this past semester, but will focus on visual materials. The class will be taught in the fall of 2004 and spring 2005.

Carol Bryant, associate professor in the UW College of Education, received a grant for her proposal titled "Preparing to Use Primary Documents in the Social Studies Classroom." The goal of the project is to use AHC materials to develop lesson plans for use in the students future classrooms. The focus for the class during the fall of 2004 will be on Constitutional issues relevant to Wyoming. The training helped the preservice teachers to understand that primary documents can be used in teaching a variety of disciplines. The students will display their research at the AHC at the end of the fall 2004 semester.


Dr. Carol Bryant, UW Secondary Social Studies Education
Project Title: Using Primary Documents to Develop Teaching Units

The goals of the project are to have pre-service teachers use the primary resources of the American Heritage Center in the areas of the American West, the world wars, and modern culture to develop instructional units which will be used in their future classrooms. The National Council for Social Studies strongly supports the use of primary sources in the classroom and such use is also referenced in the Wyoming Social Studies Standards. Also, the students will present their research in a public event at the AHC. The project will take place during the Fall 2004 semester.

Dr. Michael Harkin, UW Anthropology Department
Project Title: Teaching Archival Research Methods for Ethnohistory

The purpose of the grant is to hire a teaching assistant for the class Field Methods in Cultural Anthropology ANTH 5650, Spring 2003). The course is taught in two parts. The first requires students to learn and practice archival research. An advance graduate student with archival research experience will be hired as a teaching assistant to aid in the integration of archival research in primary sources at the American Heritage Center into the course structure. The second part of the class centers on field experience in the collection of oral history interviews. Interviews with Crow elders will be conducted. The teaching assistant will also assist with the interview portion of the course.

Dr. Amanda Rees, UW Geography and Recreation
Project Title: "Be Our Guest": Dude Ranching in Wyoming

The grant will be used for the course titled "Tourism and Recreation". The class is designed to utilize archival collections at the American Heritage Center relating to dude ranching in Wyoming. Students will be required to write a proposal for research funding to complete the work of the class, uncover the history and experiences of Wyoming dude ranching, and develop materials for a website articulating that history and those experiences.

Michael Lange, Music Performance Major
Project Title: Jazz from the Archives

Michael will research collections of the American Heritage Center containing unpublished music by many jazz musicians. Three of the collections are Buck Clayton, Harry James, and Bob Russell (Duke Ellington's lyricist). Michael will transcribe, write out instrumental parts, and arrange the pieces. During the fall semester Michael will lead a jazz combo and perform the music at the AHC in a concert titled "Jazz from the Archives." The concert would be recorded and copies of the recording and the music would be held by the AHC.

Evelina Vardanyan, Graduate student in the UW Department of Music
Project Title: American Vaudeville and Beatrice Kay

Evelina will research the papers of performer Beatrice Kay, held by the American Heritage Center, in order to study Kay's role in the history of American Vaudeville. Not only does vaudeville tell us much about America's popular culture during the early twentieth century, but it also informs us about the country's tastes, values, and habits of that era. Kay had a long and fruitful career in the entertainment industry in vaudeville and as an actress and singer. Evelina's goal is to use the research about Kay to write a paper to be presented at the Collegiate Music Society, American Musicological Society, or similar conference.

Andrew Grace, Graduate student in the UW American Studies Program
Project Title: Documentary film project about the Little Bighorn National Monument

During 1991 President George Bush signed into law a bill which renamed the Custer Battlefield National Monument as the Little Bighorn National Monument. The bill also called for "the design, construction, and maintenance of a memorial and monument to recognize the Indians who fought, on either side, to preserve their land and culture in the Battle of the Little Bighorn, June 25-26, 1876." The memorial will be unveiled this summer. Andrew will research the collections of the American Heritage Center dealing with the famous battle, including the books in the Toppan Rare Book Library. He will then travel to Montana for the unveiling of the memorial and the annual celebrations in nearby Hardin, Montana, in order to produce a documentary, which will be an effort to investigate the way we remember the past and to better understand the power of stories in shaping our history and identities.


Ryan J. Bench, Student, Art Department
Award $1,500
Project title: Paul and Helen Henderson Oregon Trail Collection Study

Using the Paul and Helen Henderson Oregon Trail collection, Bench will research travel on the Mormon Trail through central Wyoming-specifically focusing on trail routes near Casper and Rawlins. He will produce seven paintings that describe and narrate the tremendous landscape and view that these pioneers experienced while traveling through Wyoming based on the descriptive writings (diaries and manuscripts) in the Henderson collection. The pieces will capture the pioneer's emotions and relate to seven specific sites. Exhibition will begin in the fall of 2002 at venues in Casper and Laramie.

Justin White, Student, Art Department
Award $1,500
Project title: Disappearing Era

Using the Jean London collection, White will create a series of "portraits" of London, a silent film actress who worked in comedy with people like Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy. London's collection contains many of her personal writings and correspondence as well as photographs. Each portrait will portray her in progressive stages of life, and reference journals and letters as "memories." White looks forward to working beyond his own personal life experiences in researching another individual's life and interpreting his findings through a thematically linked series of paintings. He plans to have an exhibition of these paintings on the UW campus in the fall 2002.

Adrian A. Bantjes, Associate Professor of History
Award $1,000
Project title: Fly-Fishing: History, Culture, Society

This new course will use the extensive collections of rare British and American books on fly-fishing from the Toppan Library and the archival collections of the AHC relevant to the history of fly-fishing in Wyoming and the West. This project will develop, within the context of a one-semester UW class, a database of images on the history of fly-fishing covering historical, social, and cultural aspects of the sport, from its origins in Europe to its flourishing in the Western United States. It will offer students the theoretical and documentary tools with which to write a history of fly-fishing in the West and Wyoming that may be published in specialized journals or even as a collection of articles. 

Michael C. Brose, Assistant Professor of History
Award $2,250
Project title: Asia Through American Eyes

Archival collections pertaining to China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam will be used for this one-semester upper-division or graduate level course. Meeting weekly at the AHC, the students will spend the semester working through one of a pre-screened list of collections producing a research paper assessing the view of Asia held by their subject writer. There are approximately 96 individual collections in this area allowing this course to be repeated numerous times before all holdings have been thoroughly investigated.

Alyson Hagy, Assistant Professor of English
Award $500
Project title: The Writer's Attic: Writing and Researching Authentic Fiction

The Advanced Writer's Workshop (ENGL 4050) students will survey AHC manuscript collections to enhance their original fiction writing skills. Students will be required to compose a monologue in the voice of an historical character-either real (F. E. Warren or Nellie Tayloe Ross) or a fictional character who is witness to an identifiable historic event (a WWII soldier or an inmate at the Heart Mountain Relocation camp). Researching AHC archival collections will provide the details necessary to develop a richly textured, well-researched fiction that is not autobiographical in nature. The class is scheduled for fall 2002, with a public reading in December 2002. 

Michael E. Harkin, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Award $2,250
Project title: Teaching Archival Research Methods for Ethnohistory

This graduate course in ethnohistory methodology will be restructured for the spring 2002 session to integrate archival research at the AHC. Collections including the Dimitri Shimkin collection which provides rich ethnographic data from the Wind River reservation in the 1930s and the Joseph O'Mahoney collection relating to New Deal-era Indian affairs will be used to develop students' research skills making them more marketable upon graduation. The use of AHC collections also enhance the quality of the expanding ethnohistory graduate program, the professional success of their graduates, and the ability of the ethnohistory research program to attract external funding.

Mary Lou Larson, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Pamela Innes, Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Award $1,000
Project title: Shoshone Women's Beliefs about Mountain Resource Use

The Dimitri Shimkin collection will be explored during the spring 2002 semester for information regarding Shoshone women's use of mountain resources. Dr. Shimkin's collection includes numerous fieldwork notebooks that contain information on many topics and specifically information from female Shoshone informants about women's movements in the Wind River Range, resource use, and belief about the mountains from the early reservation period to the mid 1930s. Drs. Innes and Larson will interview female Shoshone elders from April to August 2002 regarding women's use of mountain resources. A written report will be presented to the AHC in December 2002 and a paper on Shoshone women's mountain resource use will be produced.

Contact Us

UW American Heritage Center

1000 E. University Ave.

Dept. 3924

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766-4114

Fax: (307) 766-5511


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