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Likely taken by Job V. Harrison near Rock Lake, N.D. 190?

[Detail] Likely taken by Job V. Harrison near Rock Lake, N.D. 190?

The Northern Great Plains, 1880-1920 is an excellent resource for students studying literature and literary themes related to the West and the frontier. Its images also provide starting points for creative language arts projects that teach students about authorship, the narrative form, and journalism, while reinforcing their understanding of frontier culture.

Frontier Literature

The collection is an excellent companion to several literary works on the West and the frontier, including essays by Frederick Jackson Turner, and novels by Willa Cather. Viewing the collection's primary sources while reading such works helps to illuminate and expand the meaning of both. For example, students can read Turner's account of the evolution of the West as the frontier line moved across the country, and fit the collection's images into that chronology. They can also relate images of farm technology to Turner's announcement of the close of the frontier, and with it the "distinguishing feature of American life." Similarly, the importance of a German-American music teacher to Cather's protagonist, Thea, in The Song of The Lark takes on more authenticity and meaning when students concurrently view images that evidence the impact of immigrants upon the settlement of the Plains and its culture.