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[Detail] The David Hilton family near Weissert, Nebraska. 1887.

Chronological Thinking: Pioneers and the Seasonal Cycle

The lives of pioneers on the Great Plains were greatly affected by the seasonal cycle. Activities in spring, summer, winter, and fall were largely dictated by the weather and the growing season.

Create a poster that shows the four seasons and their effects on Nebraska pioneers. Your poster should show two photographs for each season, as well as two letter excerpts describing seasonal activities. You can include work-related activities, as well as leisure activities, such as ice skating. Using such words as winter, summer, spring, harvest, plow, and school in a keyword search of descriptive information will help you locate photographs that show seasonal activities. You can browse the index of letters by date to locate letters written in each season.

Consider the evidence on your poster as you answer the following questions:

  • Which season seemed to offer the greatest challenge to Nebraska pioneers? Why?
  • Which season was most important to pioneers? Why?
  • Did you find any evidence of how the seasonal changes affected children differently than adults?
  • Do you think people living in the Great Plains today are still affected by seasonal changes? In what ways might they be less affected by seasonal changes than the settlers in the late 19th century?