History of Wyoming

AHC Research Paper Assignment

General Instructions

Fall Term, 2011


1. Each individual will be assigned a collection drawn from the list held in the American Heritage Center. You must write your paper on this assigned collection. Failure to follow this requirement is tantamount to failing the exercise.

2. You will be given a slip of paper at the AHC during your initial visit there. On it, you will find the name of the collection and a specific question about an item in the collection for you to answer in order to complete this assignment. (See below for complete assignment).

3. This assignment requires careful attention to the resources available in the AHC as shown to you during the tour of the facility. Further, the assignment requires doing additional research beyond what may be found in the collection you are assigned.

4. You must locate the collection number before you begin. Once you have that number, look over the inventory of the collection assigned to you and become familiar with the contents of the entire collection. After that, you must gain some knowledge of the general context from which the collection in question came. This exercise is both an exploration of the procedures for using the AHC (an important part of this exercise) and a brief opportunity to become familiar with the use of primary sources. You will be asked to write a coherent essay based around the contents of your assigned item. It may take the form of a biography or, perhaps, a narrative description of an event. This will be determined from your careful reading of your assigned question.

5. The length of this report will be between 3-5 pages, typed, double-spaced. This is a very brief research exercise so you must be careful to highlight only the important relevant aspects of the topic.  Of course, this exercise must be written in coherent essay form with an introduction and conclusion—not as an outline or numbered answers to questions.


1. How does one gain access to the materials in the American Heritage Center?  Describe the process through which you obtain the research materials you were assigned. What are the various steps in signing in, using the inventories, requesting the collection and box?

2. In order to argue your thesis, you will need to reference materials from the primary sources you are assigned as well as to relevant external reference materials. IN ALL CASES, you will need to make a direct citation to the materials you used. This may take the form of a footnote or, in many instances, simply an indication within the body of the text that you are quoting from or have made reference to materials from that particular source.

3. Somewhere within your essay, it is highly probable that you will see one of the themes we have been discussing in class. Where relevant, ensure that specific references are noted.  (For a review of the “organizing concepts,” re-read the introduction in the Readings in Wyoming History).

4. Your essay, in effect, will provide an answer to the specific question from the slip of paper you received at the AHC orientation session. Further, think about how it might be the beginning point for an analysis of a historical question. 

5. The assignment of collections will be done by your discussion section instructor along with the American Heritage Center archivist who will be conducting the workshop on using the facility. No substitutions will be allowed without the express written consent of your grader. (Your professor will handle this only for his own discussion section). 


All papers will be done two (2) weeks from the time the assignment is made. Thus, for the group going to the AHC on Tuesday, Sept. 13, the deadline will be Tuesday, Sept.27; for the group going on Sept. 20, deadline will be Oct. 4.  Don't wait until the last minute because the project involves far more than a simple scanning of the assigned collection.