Election App – Corey, Jim, Hannalore, Anna

This innovative app, available through mobile devices,  will allow users to look at historic elections in terms individual stances on military support. This app will avoid the traditional blue/red U.S map depiction and will instead offer the opinions of presidential candidates regarding military spending. Users will be given quotes and audio clips from actual presidential candidates and will then be prompted to match the stance to the correct candidate. This decision will be timed in order to discourage users from googling the answer. Research for this program will rely exclusively on primary sources, such as newspapers, video and audio clips and more recently tweets.

The purpose of this app will be to offer users different   perspectives on a continually important issue. It will also highlight how the issue of military spending does not always follow party lines. It will also debunk many of the common stereotypes regarding who supports military spending and why. The expected audience for this app is high school to college aged students and history enthusiasts. We hope that this app will encourage users to ask new questions regarding election issues.

Research Project Plan


The Importance of the Imagined West in American Cultural History


The understanding of the regional history of the American West encompasses both historic fact as well as an imagined story. This history is fraught with tension between truth and myth. No other region in American history has had such a dramatic impact on the retelling of its own history. The West is truly a place where the lines of fact and fiction have been blurred by its own inhabitants as well as by those entities that reside outside of the region. This region’s history is also unique in that it seems to be moving backwards in time. The concept of the “Old West” is seen as a timeless and unchanging place, ridden with images of pioneers, mountain men, cowboys and Indians. In the mid 1980’s, however, the concept of the “New West” was born out of this fictitious understanding of the region’s history. The New Western historians began to debunk many of predominate themes that encompassed western history. They discussed and debated the reality of such concepts as individualism and autonomy in this region. However, as historians continually fought to expose the West as it truly was, the images of “spaghetti westerns,” Clint Eastwood, vast open horizons and blue skies lingered in the public’s mind. Although the arguments of “New Western” historians have produced a wealth of knowledge based in truth, the mythic West continues to be an important part of the American story. Through thorough analysis of primary documents from travelers and inhabitants of the West from the 19th and early 20th centuries it will become evident that inhabitants of the region were equally responsible for the creation of the myth and the false representation of the West. By looking at these first hand experiences thematically, the sources will prove that Westerns aided in the development of the Imagined West in an attempt to amplify and validate their experiences in the region and to firmly establish their place in history.



Section 1: The Experiences and Adventures of Westerners with Native Tribes and Their Impact on the Mythic West.

  • Westerners experienced difficulties with Native Tribes throughout Western American History. The way these events have been remembered, however, support the idea that westerners’ collective memory supported and influenced the nation’s understanding of the Imagined West.

a)      The Homestead Act – legislation that encouraged and institutionalized settlement in the West. Created guidelines that homesteaders needed to follow in order to “improve their land” and create a successful economic entity (usually agriculturally based, but also included ranching) This source is essential to setting up historical context and to explain one of the reasons that travelers decide to move West.

  • Citation: Department of the Interior, Homestead Act of 1862. Statues at Large p.392-1443, 37th Cong., 2d sess., 1862.


b)      Poster of Miss Olive Oatman, a “distinguished lady” captured by “savage Apaches” emphasizes the horrid experiences of being captured, but is displayed as part of a presentation aimed at a public audience. People had to pay to listen to the adventures of Miss Olive, downplaying the truthfulness of the experience in order to turn a profit. Her experiences are depicted in such a way as to provide an aspect of entertainment while amplifying the heroism and bravery of her experience as it fits within the paradigm of the mythic West. Illustrates how westerns impacted and influenced their own sense of a false reality.

  • Citation: Stratton, Rev. P. B. Five Years Among Wild Savages: The renowned Apache captive Miss Olive Oatman. Toledo, Ohio: Blade Print 1859. The Newbury Library, Chicago.


c)      Newspaper article attempting to change the minds of the American Public about the false representation of Indian peoples. Author argues that they are indeed a civil people who are well versed in arts and literature and who want to continue to acquire knowledge. This article would not have been written had the concept of the mythic west not be so boldly planted in the minds of the American public.

  • Citation: John Beeson, “To The American People” Fort Gibson, Indian Territory, Jan. 12, 1874. The Newberry Library, Chicago.


  • By looking at these two pieces of evidence it is obvious that the presentation of grand adventures and encounters with Indians did impact the nation’s understanding of the mythic west. It reinforced the paradigm that there was a mythic and factual West. The newspaper article will then be introduced to illustrate an attempt to dissuade the public opinion.
    • To refer to thesis – emphasize that the effort of western people to knowingly present their experiences in a way that bolstered their bravery/courage etc. against native people for the benefit of solidifying their place within the false representation of the region.



Section 2: The expansion of Railroads and their impact on the perceived image of the West.

  • Railroad enthusiast made significant claims that the West was a wide and open territory inhabited by no one. Maps of this region and time period reflect this understanding.

a)      Map of Railroad – this primary source depicts the rail line for the Pacific Railroad from the 1860s and is void of an Indian presence. Maps of this type would have been used to encourage emigration to the West.

  • Citation: “Map Of The Pacific Railroad” Autographed Manuscript Journal, v. 4, 1866-1875. The Newberry Library, Chicago.


b)      Map of Native Tribes in the West – This map from the 1810s depict an image of a vast western region as it has already been claimed by Native Tribes.

  • Citation: “Map of the country inhabited by the Western Tribes of Indians,” 1809. The Newberry Library, Chicago.


  • By juxtaposing these two images it is obvious that there has been a shift in the way the West was being viewed. Over the course of fifty years overland travelers came to understand the West in very different ways. Travelers and emigrant Americans perceived the West in the early 1800s as a region inhabited by “savage Indians,” resulting in a common fear of the region. Within five decades, however, that understanding had changed in part due to the genius of railroad entrepreneurs. By publishing railroad maps that depicted railroad depots, but were void of an Indian presence, railroad tycoons heightened the sense of safety and security in the region, thus encouraging emigration from the East into the West. This, however, was a false representation of the region. Native tribes in the 1860s continued to inhabit the western lands and they interacted (both aggressively and passively) with the newly arriving emigrants. These railroad maps, designed by western inhabitants, illustrate that Westerns had a hand in describing this region as a calm and serene place, and mythic land, when in reality it was far from perfect.
    • To refer to thesis: Easterner’s use of the railroads validated the success of railroad tycoons thus encouraging more false claims which only heightened the mythic appeal of the region.



Section 3: The Early Western Entertainers: The importance of historical figures and their alter egos in creating the Mythic West.

  • Certain Western figured created a name for themselves in the public’s mind through their unrealistic actions. In most cases this inflation of fact was done either by the figure or by the surrounding Western community. In some cases, inhabitants of the West continued to make outrageous claims about these figures even after their death. It was this inflation of fact by the Western communities that added to the larger-than-life image of many western outlaw and criminals. These falsified stories play into the general acceptance and admiration of these historic players.

a)      The life of Jesse James is remembered in terms of the “Wild West.” Primary source documents, written by James undermine his national and mythic image.

  • Citation: Applar, Augustus, C. The Guerillas of the West or the Life, Character and Daring Exploits of the Younger Brothers. St Louis, Eureka Publishing Company, 1876.


b)      Rare book highlighting the mythic interpretation of such westerners as Buffalo Bill, Will Bill Cody and mythicizing other events and adventures. Over 250 pages of inflated fact.

  • Citation: Triplett, Frank, Col. Conquering the Wilderness: A New Pictorial History of the Heroes and Heroines of America.” New York: N.D. Thompson Company, 1883.


c)      Experiences of Calamity Jane – written in first person, emphasizing the adventurous nature of the West and her place in it.

  • Citation: Calamity, Jane. Life and Adventures of Calamity Jane. 1896.


  • By looking at the factual evidence written by such western figures as Jesse James and comparing those with myth and story about their life as understood by Western Americans, this evidence will illustrate how the nation wanted to embrace criminals as national heroes.
    • To refer to thesis: evidence indicates a desire to create a façade for these criminals. Means of justifying their devastating actions – seen as strong and important people for the West. Reiterate for some cases how these figures amplified their own history and impact on the nation. Acknowledge that some figures tried to prevent this, but their success was limited, therefore proving how strong their mythical images were.



While the history of the American West is vast and all encompassing, there is a distinction between fact and fiction. By acknowledging that this split is consistent throughout the written record of the time it is apparent that the Mythic West is equally, if not more important to understanding the history of that place and time. The primary sources that have survived from the 1800s illustrate that inhabitants of the West were eager to help shape the legacy of their homelands. Westerners inflated fact and exaggerated truth in an attempt to validate their own existence while at the same time creating an essential narrative of the American Story.


Annotated Bibliography

Athearn, Robert. The Mythic West in Twentieth Century America. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1986.

This book will be used in order to look at the West as a geographic region as a whole and examine the environmental history of the West. This source will also be used to examine the responses of Easterners to the presentation of the Mythic West.


Limerick, Patricia, Nelson. The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past Of The American West. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1987.

This book also works to provide historical context. It will be used to explain the dichotomy of the West and help support the concept of the Imagined West. This book will help with the organization of my paper as well, seeing as it discusses the experiences and history of a multitude of people, such as homesteaders, miners, women, etc. Having a solid source that can provide factual evidence will help structure this paper so that the mythic understanding of events will be compared to highly respectable and accurate accounts.


Savage, William, Jr. The Cowboy Hero: His Image in American History and Culture. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1979.

This source will help establish the paradox between the truthful image of the cowboy and the mythic image. This will help set up a framework for talking about other western “heroes” or historic figures. (used especially for section 3).


White, Richard. “It’s Your Misfortune and None of my Own:” A New History of the American West. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991.

This book gives a general overview of Western American History. While the book is broad in scope, it is also riddled with specific details and events. This source would be helpful in writing this research paper since it could be used to set the historical context, but this book also has an entire chapter discussing the concept of the “Imagined West.” This source would be used to define the term and explain the concept.


Reflection on Assignment

I found this assignment to be daunting at first look, however, over the course of finding a research topic, finding a database that contained digitalized primary documents and then putting together an argument, I realized a lot about how technology in the modern world both helps and hinders the ability to do history.

After a primary Google search, I came across a database of purely digitized primary documents from the Everett D. Graff Collection at the Newberry Library in Chicago.( http://www.americanwest.amdigital.co.uk.libproxy.boisestate.edu/Index.aspx)   This collection of documents is expansive, yet the database is extremely well organized. It made doing research incredibly easier. Having documents categorized by theme, but also being able to do simple word searches of the entire database offered two distinct ways to look at and think about these documents. There is, however, a downside to their particular type of organization. I was forced to interpret these documents through the eyes the Newberry Library Archivists simply because I was looking at the sources as they believed they should be sorted and arranged.

As I discovered maps, letters, pamphlets and rare books regarding Western American history I was shocked at the availability of these treasures. In this sense, I found the database profoundly useful. As I examined the documents, however, I quickly noticed a limitation and frustration with the sources. Handwriting is also an issue for historians. With digital sources you have to compete with the swirly writing, but you also are faced with the image quality of the screen, which in turn  impacting the displayed document. Poor screen quality affects your ability to read primary source documents. As you zoom in on the document the image becomes distorted thus further hindering the readability of a source. Using a paper source and an old fashioned magnifying glass would have made reading hand written letters much easier. Also, as a lover of history I missed the “old book smell” that is associated with doing archival research. Without that physical connection to the sources it seemed to undermine the importance of the documents.

Dealing with digital primary sources has both advantages and disadvantages, however, I believe that the advantages greatly out weight any of the disadvantages. Based on this assignment I have realized that working in the digital realm will take some getting used to.


HannaLore and Lucas: Epic Flickr Story

Five Card Story: What an epic date!

a Five Card Flickr story created by HL and LS

flickr photo by bgblogging

flickr photo by Intrepidteacher

flickr photo by DavidDMuir

flickr photo by bionicteaching

flickr photo by cogdogblog

Jane was beyond excited to go out with Bill. She knew that he had planned an unforgettable afternoon. What she didn’t know was that her life was hanging in the balance.

Bill decided to take Jane to the carnival where they only rode the creepy looking carousel. As the ride began to spin, their landscape changed around them. By the time they got off of the carousel, they were in a different realm altogether. The only familiar scenery was the historic movie theater. However, the movie theater looked like it was in its heyday, airing seemingly new movies they knew to be decades old.

In an attempt to find out where they had traveled to, they decided to enter the only familiar site, the historic movie theater. The image they saw on the screen only served to give them further questions about what had happened. They saw tourists running around town square wearing wetsuits and flippers on land! As they are questioning their surroundings, the theater starts to spin and they immediately run out of the theater.

After literally spinning out of the theater, they find that they are being chased by terrifying, monstrous shadows with gigantic weapons. They run for their lives, dashing through the forest where she could have sworn their houses used to be. Jane feels as if they have been running for miles when Bill trips over a tree branch and stumbles into her. She feels the hard smack of the forest ground and shrieks frantically as the shadowed figures come upon them. Just as the shadowed figure lifts his weapon, she wakes up from her nightmare.

She wakes to find Bill sleeping soundly on the picnic blanket in the park, it was a bad dream, but what a date!

Interview with Dr. Shawn Graham

Looking into the field of digital humanities can be a daunting task for a young historian who is just beginning her career. Everything that I have learned related to doing history has involved going to the library and checking out books and printing academic articles. The concepts explored within the field of digital humanities, however, offer young scholars the opportunity to look at sources, evidence, and other academic scholarship in an entirely new and innovative way. As a means of peering into the new and emerging field of digital humanities I had the honor to interview one of Canada’s most knowledgeable digital humanists, Shawn Graham. The information he provided through this interview gave insight into his experiences in the field of digital humanities as well as advice and guidance for scholars who are just beginning to learn about using digital tools as part of their academic career.

As a young child, Shawn always enjoyed tinkering with things and learning how they worked. He gained this valuable knowledge by breaking things and taking them apart, always trying to understand how their mechanisms worked. At age ten, Shawn had an incident with a grand piano which rendered the instrument useless. This experiment, however, turned into a memory that Shawn attributes to his desire to work with technology. Although Shawn had an initial interest in how technology worked it was not until he was in college that he was asked to confront the uses of technology in an academic setting. Only after being presented with an assignment to create a “webography of sites,” did Shawn form an idea of how technology would play into the future of academia. At first, the relationship between technology and academia did not look promising to Shawn. Based on an article he wrote titled “Why the World Wide Web Will Never Be Useful for Academics,” it was clear that Shawn’s initial reaction to technology in the classroom was very pessimistic. On this note, however, he did provide a bit of advice to young people beginning their careers in this field. He believes in “failing gloriously and failing often.” He said that “it’s only through that cycle – and being willing to share what happened – that we move forward.” I find solace in these words, especially considering the fact that the technology used within the realm of digital humanities is new and quickly changing. I know that I will take Shawn’s advice to heart as I continue to explore the opportunities and possibilities that digital history provides.

Although Shawn has a solid footing in the digital world, his real passion lies in the content that he can present through digital means. Shawn is from a family of history buffs and teachers. His sibling, aunts and uncles all work in the realm of teaching in some capacity or another. His particular field of study, albeit related to history, is not history, but rather archeology. Shawn has a true interest in the idea of historical landscapes and the materialism associated with archeology. Being able to touch and see ancient artifacts and work at archeological digs spurred Shawn’s passion to share this content with others in the digital world through interactive and exciting means. An example of such a digital component is presented as a concept of augmented reality. Easily accessible through his blog, electricarcheology, Shawn depicts and then describes how to recreate a “visual 3D pop-up book.” I believe that this concept is incredibly innovative and can be used to draw the public, and especially children, into the wonders of archeology and history.

Being one of the only academics in Canada to have “digital humanist” as part of his job title is encouraging for young scholars. While I find the idea of being one of the first academics to conquer this new field as daunting, Shawn takes a difference approach. He sees this situation as one of freedom. He really does have the ability to shape the field of digital humanities and encourage the academic world to engage in this new technology, or as Shawn put it, “He is making it up as he goes.”

As the world of digital humanities and digital history more specifically continues to grow, I find myself more and more intrigued with the possibilities that these new technologies can offer. And while I consider myself a historian by trade as opposed to a digital humanist, I am not going to limit myself or the projects I want to work on to the traditional methods of academia. I look forward to using multidisciplinary tactics and techniques to further my own education and to share my research. In the 21st century there is no denying that the digital world will offer a new venue and means of connecting with other scholars and providing a new and exciting outlet to share our passions with a public audience.