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Writing Assignment:
Reading Historical and Cultural Landscapes
100 Points
November 19, 2015 at 11:00AM on Moodle
HIST 1118: U.S. History and Culture
Dr. Youngs
Project Description:
This project will give you the opportunity to complete historical research and
landscape interpretation and synthesize the readings and discussions from class
this semester. Students will complete a written assignment that explores U.S.
history by writing a short cultural and environmental landscape evolution for one,
specific location. This assignment offers the opportunity to apply skills learned in
class for “reading landscapes” for their clues to past events and activities that
shaped how they look today. The location you chose is up to you. It can be a
favorite place that you know and have personally visited through your travels or it
can be a local Idaho location such as a neighborhood of Pocatello or Idaho Falls.
The paper allows students to apply the knowledge gained in this course to real
world locations and complete original research as a place-based environmental
Project Goals:
During the course of the semester you will gain direct experience in 1) writing a
cultural landscape evolution and history for a specific location, 2) writing a scholarly
paper that cites primary and secondary sources 3) complete original research.
Project Outcomes:
Students will demonstrate their mastery of the project goals through a written
• There is a 10 point deduction from your total project score for each day
essay submission is late
Paper Format:
• 5- 6 pages (double spaced)
• including in text citations
• + references at the end of the paper
• + 2 photos of your chosen location at the end of the paper
• (1 historic, 1 taken by you this semester)
• + 1 map of your chosen location at the end of your paper
• Each page:
o double spaced
o Times New Roman font, 12pt font
o 1 inch margins – left and right
o ½ inch margins – top and bottom
• Your study must discuss at least 50 years of change at a location. You may
chose a longer time period, but not a shorter one.
STEP 1: Chose a place to study
Where do you want to focus your research? Chose a place that you know
well and that interests you to learn more about it. This could be a place
locally in Pocatello or Idaho Falls such as a neighborhood, park, or canyon or
a place that you’ve traveled to or closer to home.
Your assignment is to write a short essay presenting your interpretation of
the cultural and environmental landscape evolution for that place. What
environmental and cultural forces shaped that location to look that way it
does today? What clues do you observe in that landscape that hint at what
is used to look like historically?
This is a short paper. Spend the first few weeks of the semester considering
possible locations for your study and the scale of your work. Carefully
consider your place and limit your study to an area that you can discuss in
detail given the page limits of this assignment. More detail about a
relatively small area, such as a neighborhood or historic district is better
than a trying to cover too much in a broad overview of an entire city, park,
or state.
STEP 2: Visit your chosen location and record observations about the
This is an exercise in historical interpretation. It is a landscape evolution
study, based on your observations in the field of your chosen landscape and
primary and secondary historical sources about that place. A place can be
read like a book; it is a historical document full of clues and information
about past events that are legible to those who take the time to observe,
consider, study, and research.
Look for remainders and clues about how your chosen place looked
differently in the past. Careful observation will reveal building footprints,
faded road or paths through a forest, fading fence lines, and other
Get to know your place by visiting (or revisiting) it personally several times.
Each time you visit, take notes and try to write a description of the
landscapes you see there. What do the streets and buildings look like? How
are they arranged? If you’ve chosen a ranch, or forest, or park, then
describe the trees, shrubs, animals, and landforms such as hills or rivers
You will also need to complete historical research to better understand and
interpret your chosen location. Here are some suggestions:
– Study historic maps and photographs of your location.
Here are a few locations to find historic photographs of Pocatello:
Bannock County Images (Idaho Digital Resources)
Idaho State University Special Collections
(ISU Scrapbook of campus images)
Digital Atlas of Idaho (maps, information, and photographs of Idaho)
Boise State Historical and Digital Collections (Boise and region)
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (United States)
Library of Congress Map Collections
Urban locations (try searching Sanborn Maps)
or Panoramic (Birds-Eye View) maps
– Read. Find information about your chosen location’s past through
historic research using primary source writings describing the location
at different eras or secondary source histories of the place.
You may wish to visit the ISU Special Collections, in the
basement of the library. Please call ahead and make an appointment
with a special collections librarian before you visit at 208.282. 3608.
Additional information about their collections and location may be
found here: http://www.isu.edu/library/special/
Here are other good sources for historical accounts of Idaho:
Newspapers. Librarians at ISU can assist you in searching local
newspapers for keywords in stories that mentioned your location, a
specific street, a year, people that lived or worked near your location,
and other information.
Link, Paul and E.C. Phoenix. 1996. Rocks, Rails, and Trails.
Waite, Thorton. 2012. The Railroad at Pocatello. Arcadia, Publishing.
Books available at ISU Library:
Mallette, Walter. 2013. Pocatello. Arcadia Publishing.
York, Dorothy. 1955. Early Development of the Pocatello-Fort Hall
Lecourn, Robert. 1943. Early History of Pocatello.
Link to a listing of additional books available at ISU Library:
STEP 3: Visit your chosen location and take photographs. You will use these
as a basis for your historical interpretation of how that place has changed
over time. Compare historic photographs and maps to how the landscape
looks today. How has it changed?
STEP 4: Submit your essay, bibliography, photographs, and map
DUE: November 19, 2015 by 11:00am on MOODLE
Submit your essay as a Word Document
Cite all materials in each paragraph using IN TEXT citation formats. Also
include a full listing of each reference you cite in a Bibliography at the end of
your paper. The bibliography does not count towards the essay length.
Format: Chicago Manual of Style 16th edition (Author-Date) Annals of
the Association of American Geographers Style.
A Format Guide for Citations will be posted to the course Moodle page
Your Name (Your first and last name)
Due Date (date the assignment is due)
Essay Title
Essay Text 5 – 6 pages, double spaced.
(You must cite ANY and ALL documents, essays, books, photographs, maps,
interviews, newspaper articles, etc. that you use in your paper to build your
interpretation. Failure to do so is plagiarism. Remember to use quotes and
cite all references in text.)
+ Bibliography (page 7 onwards)
+ 1 Historic Photograph of your location
(remember to include full citation to the location, date, original photography,
and the location that of the online or historic collection where you found this
Type your citation directly under the image. Attach image at the END of
your paper.
+ 1 photograph of your location that YOU captured.
You may use a digital or film camera. If you would like you may attempt a
repeat photograph using the historic image as a base for a “then and now”
imagery set of your chosen location.
+ 1 map of your chosen location.
Remember to include a full citation of the source where you found your map
including published date, URL or full name of library, and
cartographer/creator’s name

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