Library of Congress


The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Lesson Plans > History of the American West, 1860-1920
[Detail] Where gold was firs [sic] discovered [between 1890 and 1910].

[Detail] Where gold was firs [sic] discovered [between 1890 and 1910].

Critical Thinking

The time span represented in History of the American West provides users with an opportunity to examine visual evidence of change over time. Illustrations of conflicts between Native Americans and the U.S. military can be analyzed to examine how the press reported these wars, while photographs of the Carlisle Indian School provide a starting point for a research project. Numerous photographs depict Buffalo Bill's Wild West Shows and afford a close look at that historical entertainment, while a few pictures of Klu Klux Klan activity in Denver can serve as the touchstone for a discussion of free speech and hate crimes.

Chronological Thinking: Urban Development

The Subject Index lists photographs of Denver, Colorado chronologically, providing an opportunity to examine change over time.

  • What kind of town do you think Denver was when it was founded? Who lived there? What kinds of facilities, organizations, and services were first established in Denver?
  • What characteristics do you think are necessary for a settlement to qualify as a town?
  • Why might Denver have developed when and where it did?
  • How did Denver change over time? What new features were added to the city? How did the city's appearance change? How did Denver's residents and their activities change? What might account for such changes?
  • How did transportation change over time? How did this affect the city?
  • What things stayed the same in Denver and why might that have been?
  • How might you expect the development of other cities, such as New York, Chicago, and San Francisco to have been similar to or different from Denver's history?
  • What factors determine how or if a city grows?