The American Heritage Center and the Cowboy Coalition from Natrona County School District recently collaborated on a three-day teacher workshop designed to demonstrate the use of primary documents in the teaching of American history and government in grades 4-12. The workshop for teachers incorporated research in collections documenting a number of topics including the Heart Mountain (WY) Japanese Relocation Center, Oregon Trail, Hollywood 10, and Project Wagon Wheel (a 1969-74 plan by the US Department of Energy to detonate thermonuclear devices underground in Wyoming’s Sublette County for the purpose of releasing natural gas trapped in rock formations). Participants were able to earn continuing education credit along with transcript credit from the University of Wyoming.
Workshop participants also heard presentations by Dr. William Moore of the University history department, Dr. Carol Bryant from UW’s department of secondary education, and Rick Ewig, assistant director of the American Heritage Center. Dr. Moore spoke about the context in which the blacklisting of the Hollywood 10 took place. Dr. Bryant demonstrated various strategies for using primary documents in the classroom, and Rick Ewig talked about fact and fiction and the misleading nature of some primary sources in the historic bio-pic, Hildalgo.
Workshop participants toured the AHC and were introduced to the reference department and reference archivists at the Center. They learned how to access the collections housed at the Center, online and in-person. Several teachers scheduled research visits for their classes. The participating educators came away with a new appreciation for the resources that are available to them, and they all indicated a strong interest in having the opportunity to particpate in other workshops hosted by the AHC. As one of the teachers said in her evaluation, “This may have been the best workshop I have ever had to pleasure of attending.”
–Dick Kean, Wyoming History Day Coordinator