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The Grand Canon, Yellowstone...

[Detail] The Grand Canon, Yellowstone...

Lesson Overview

These lessons introduce students to historical perspectives of nature and the environment, drawing on the American Memory collections, other digital resources, readings, and writing exercises. Students examine materials in a variety of formats to understand the contexts of America's concern for the environment.

In "The Photographer, the Artist, and Yellowstone Park," a short lesson which requires one ninety-minute or two fifty-minute class periods, students use American Memory and other digital collections to recognize the impact photographer William Henry Jackson and artist Thomas Moran had on the creation of Yellowstone National Park. They explore and analyze images of the area along with legislative records and maps and produce an essay on the relationship between early images of the American West and subsequent ideologies and stories of the West.

In "Resource Management: Local and Historical Perspectives," which requires ten weeks, students use both digital collections and those of an academic library or historical society to get a full perspective on historical and literary sources and how they might connect local history with larger national trends. Students produce a research paper addressing the history of a local environmental issue. The unit may be extended with students performing their own historical research in the community.


Time Required

  • Unit One: Two classes
  • Unit Two: Ten weeks

Recommended Grade Level

  • 9-12
  • 6-8


  • Science, Technology & Business
  • Arts & Culture


  • Rise of Industrial America, 1876-1900
  • Progressive Era to New Era, 1900-1929


Marta Brooks & Jodi Allison-Bunnell