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Professor Martha Sandweiss’s course “History of the American West” asks students to engage with primary resources in two assignments. The first, a transcription assignment, requires students to think and write like a historian as they try to make sense of an original nineteenth-century western manuscript. The second assignment asks students to select a photograph from the twentieth-century American West and approach the image as a historian approaches literary documents, requiring them to think about the special challenges of visual evidence.

Assignment One: Transcribing the West

Example of Student Work: Transcription Website

Assignment Two: Photographs as Historical Documents

Example of Student Paper: Reading Family and Community Histories