The Northern Great Plains, 1880-1920: Photographs from the Fred Hulstrand and F.A. Pazandak Photograph Collections
As the Midwest filled up, immigration to the western United States increased. Students can learn more about immigrants and their impact upon the settlement of the Northern Great Plains in a Special Presentation on Immigrants or by searching Czech-Americans, Icelandic-Americans, Norwegian-Americans, German-Americans, Swedish-Americans, Danish-Americans, Irish-Americans, Canadian-Americans, and British-Americans. In addition to captions and visual content, take note of the summaries that appear below the captions in the bibliographic information. Exploring settlement, students will also get a broader perspective of immigration than is afforded by the traditional focus upon the Ellis Island experience.
While people shaped the settlement of the Northern Great Plains, the environment of the region influenced this process as well. Search sod houses, town, and snow for images that will help students to better comprehend the sheer effort of migration and settlement, especially in a region with little timber and extreme weather.
Students can further study the mutual impact of human societies and the environment by referring to the Timeline in Evolution of the Conservation Movement, 1850-1920. This will help students to relate the regional images of this collection with national events and trends, including Theodore Roosevelt's conservationism as President. Roosevelt once said "I never would have been President if it had not been for my experiences in North Dakota." Search Roosevelt for evidence of his experiences and consider why he felt they were necessary to his Presidency. How far has the impact of one man's experience reached?
Students may understand the demands of settlement upon individuals by closely examining images of men, women, and children, their activities on the frontier, and the places where they learned, worked, and played. Search children, boy, girl, family, play, home, and interior and consider the following questions.
- What would have been involved in building and maintaining a sod house? What would it have been like to live in one?
- What did children do for fun? How would school on the frontier have been different from school today? What chores and tasks did children do at home or on the farm?
- How did parents provide food, shelter, safety, transportation, and clothing for their families? What search words would you use to find out?
The collection is particularly explicit about the many roles women played in frontier society. Many historians argue that frontier women developed a special kind of independence and equality that eastern women did not. Can students support this argument with photographs from the collection? See the Special Presentation on Women or search the collection.