The Northern Great Plains, 1880-1920: Photographs from the Fred Hulstrand and F.A. Pazandak Photograph Collections
The collection supports an exploration of the nature and role of community on the frontier. What is community? What was the significance of community on the frontier? How was a sense of community created? How do modern day communities differ from frontier communities? Students can browse the Subject Index or conduct searches for images of neighborhood gatherings, weddings, churches, and soda shops that will help them understand how people socialized and supported each other, and what events and places drew people together. Teachers can challenge students to find as many different examples of frontier community as possible.
One element of community well represented in the collection, and highlighted in a Special Presentation, is schools. What do the many photographs of school houses in the collection suggest about the people of the Northern Great Plains? What does the multitude of these images suggest about the photographer? Many of these schools were public institutions. Why might the Government have set aside so much money to establish schools on the frontier? What other roles did State and Federal Government play in the frontier? (Students might want to explore Prosperity and Thrift, 1921-1929 and Evolution of the Conservation Movement, 1850-1920). What do these roles suggest about attitudes toward the frontier and its communities?
Political organizations such as the Nonpartisan League also contributed to community and can be studied in this collection. Students should refer to the Special Presentations of the "Golden Age of Agriculture" and the "Nonpartisan League in North Dakota Politics" to learn about the growth of corporate, mechanized farming in the West and the mobilization of small farmers against big businesses. Images of the landscape, cultivation, and frontier life can help students understand why small farmers might have felt deprived of the benefits of the nation's economic growth and disaffected from the two party system that represented big business and corporate farming. Students can relate this to other political movements and other geographical regions by searching granger and socialist in Pioneering the Upper Midwest, 1820-1910.