Emails Sent to 469 Class List Server

This page contains an archive of major emails sent to the 469 list server during Fall 2016.

Note sheet for Color Lines (Part 1) Lecture Posted, with Links, Sent on 12/6/16:

Hi, everyone. I wanted to let you know that I've just posted the fully revised (!) note sheet for Monday's lecture. It includes links for downloading many of the census maps I showed during lecture, so if you're wanting to peruse any of those, you're more than welcome to do so. 

Most helpful of all, as I indicated in Monday's email, is the 2000 Census Atlas, which you can access here:

Many of the maps in Monday's lecture came from Chapter 3 on "Race and Hispanic Origin":

You should also download the equally helpful maps in Chapter 9, on "Ancestry":

Enjoy! See you tomorrow.


Details for the Final Two Weeks of Class, Sent on 12/5/16:


(I tried to send this message yesterday, on Sunday, 12/5/16, but it failed to be forwarded by the list server. My apologies. I've added some additional details about the final exam based on some decisions that Ben, Daniel, and I made today, so please read extra carefully.)

I have a variety of miscellaneous announcements and updates to pass along. Please read carefully:

1) Note sheets have now been posted all the way through this past Wednesday's lecture on Zoning. Most are still DRAFTS, but Ben Kasten has revised the note sheet for his lecture and I've added some images to it, so that one is in final form.

2) At the request of a number of students, I've added to the library e-reserves list a PDF copy of Erwin Raisz's classic 1954 outline map of U.S. landforms, so it's now there for your to access whenever you want to review it. The PDF should be suitable for printing so you can use it for studying.

3) I've also added to the e-reserves a copy of the famous chapter of Jane Jacobs's The Death and Life of Great American Cities in which she critiques modernist urban planning by describing life on the sidewalks of her Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. It's a remarkable piece of writing and a brilliant example of "reading the landscape"--she'll change the way you think about cities and neighborhoods and sidewalks--so if you can make time to read it, I don't think you'll regret it. But I also know what a busy time of year this is, so if you're not able to get to it, that's OK too.

4) We're now in the final two weeks of the semester, and Daniel, Ben, and I have been thinking about how to make the best use of our last two section meetings. We're inclined to think that section this week should be devoted at least in part to helping you prepare to study for the final exam, since sections during the last week of classes will be held at most a day before the final, if not just a few hours before it. For that reason, we urge you to give serious thought to what would be most helpful for us to do together during this week's section. Please come with any and all questions about the course that you may have, and any suggestions you may have for your classmates about how best to prepare for the final.

5) On that score, don't forget that our final exam will be held during our last class meeting in 2650 Humanities (our regular room) from 2:30-3:45pm on Wednesday, December 14--which has the huge advantage for all of us that we won't be holding our final during our allotted exam slot on December 23 (!!). We will hold a review session for the final from 7:00-8:30pm on Monday, December 12, also in 2650 Humanities. Please mark these dates and times on your calendar and plan to attend the review session if you possibly can. As you know, Ben, Daniel, and I are big fans of group studying for exams like this one, so you might want to start talking with your classmates sooner rather than later to find a good time to schedule group study sessions.

6) After extended discussion, Ben, Daniel, and I have decided *not* to include an objective map ID section on the final exam. This means that the exam will consist of a single blue book essay. That said, we *will* include a copy of Raisz's 1954 landforms map on the back side of the exam, and all of the blue book questions (you'll have three or four of these to choose among) will ask you to write an interpretative essay on some aspect of landscape history, for which we'll ask you to label on the map key locations you decide to discuss in your essay. So you should still review for the course with the map in mind, but you'll be much more in control of the places you choose to write about that you then identify on the map. We'll talk more about how this will work in section.

7) Don't forget that there are assigned readings for this week's discussion section, all related to planning, zoning, and the color line. We'll use these readings as part of our conversation about preparing for the final, so please be sure to have read them before section meets. Of this week's readings, we've decided to focus especially on Mark Fiege's "The Road to Brown v. Board: An Environmental History of the Color Line," in Fiege, The Republic of Nature: An Environmental History of the United States (2012), 318-57, which is downloadable from the library e-reserves. Please be sure to have read it carefully before we meet. Your section leader will send additional suggestions about things to think about as you reflect on the piece.

8) We'll devote the last discussion section of the semester--the one that will occur shortly before the final--to reflecting on the course as a whole and the many themes and perspectives we've explored for thinking about the history and "reading" the landscape of America. How has the course changed the way you think about history, landscape, the United States, and your own life? Please be thinking about this question so you can share thoughts about it during that last section. We're pretty sure that that a wide-ranging conversation of this kind will be helpful for the final exam. 

9) Finally, since I messed up with the racial dot map of Milwaukee that I tried to show in lecture today, I've attached a copy for you to peruse for yourself. It comes from an extraordinary website where you can see a racial dot map for every person counted in the Census of 2010: well worth exploring if you're so inclined: Also, if you'd like to download the superb 2000 Census Atlas that I used for many of today's maps, you can obtain download it (chapter-by-chapter) from this page of Census website: Most of today's maps came from Chapter 3, on Race and Hispanic Origin. The most convenient collections of racial briefings from the 2010 census (with a number of useful maps) are linked from this page:

That's all for now. Enjoy the weekend, and I'll see you Monday afternoon.


Wikipedia Assignment on Mining Landscapes, Sent 10/24/16:


As I explained today in lecture, we're adding an extra reading assignment to the four readings about mining landscapes that are already listed in the syllabus and that are available for download from the Library e-reserve collection. For your convenience, here's what the syllabus already asks you to read:

Thomas Andrews, "Dying with Their Boots On," Killing for Coal: Americas Deadliest Labor War (2008), 122-56.

Kathryn Morse, "The Nature of Gold Mining," The Nature of Gold: An Environmental History of the Klondike Gold Rush (2003), 89-114.

Robert Service, "The Trail of Ninety-Eight," Ballads of Cheechako (1909).

Martha A. Sandweiss, "Prologue: An Invented Life," Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line (2009), 1-10.

We hope you'll find all of these texts lively and engaging. They aren't long, and each offers a very different perspective on themes we're discussing in section next week. That said, none of them offers a very broad or integrated perspective on mining landscapes in North American history. That's where Wikipedia comes in.

For next week, to put these readings in a wider context, please spend at least an hour (longer, if you’re so inclined) browsing Wikipedia entries that seem to you in any way relevant or interesting relating to the history of mining and mining landscapes in the United States and Canada.

Although I'll offer below some suggestions you might want to peruse, it’s very important that you let yourself head off in whatever directions seem to you most intriguing.

The purpose of this Wikipedia assignment is for you to experience for yourself the serendipity of browsing ... wandering. The directions you choose to wander are your own, but your goal is to look for contexts and connections that will broaden and deepen your understanding of this subject. Landscape history (and history in general) rewards wandering. What we're explicitly asking you to do in Wikipedia this week is in fact worth doing for almost all the topics we're exploring in this course.

To maximize the serendipity of your browsing experience, it will help to remember that encyclopedia entries (especially in Wikipedia) are often conceptually and geographically nested, which is to say that you can approach a topic at different levels of generality.

To get an overview of major topics covered by Wikipedia, it's often helpful to start with the pages that list some of the most significant entries on a broad topical area. Wikipedia calls these "Category" pages. For mining, these might include (but are not limited to)

Category: Mining:

Category: History of Mining:

Category: Mining Disasters:

Category: Economic Geology:

(You might try rummaging around for other category pages that feel especially relevant to this course.)

I often open pages like these in one tab of my browser, and then click on entries of interest to open additional tabs to see if they might interest me.

Please remember that you should never rely on an encyclopedia (whether it's Wikipedia or the Encyclopedia Britannica) as your main source, and you should not generally quote a source like Wikipedia. By their nature, encyclopedias synthesize what's found in other sources; they are never the original source for the information they contain (Wikipedia insists on this). They can be superb tools for orienting yourself to a topic you're exploring, but you should then use them to point yourself to other, more authoritative sources. You should not, for instance, rely on them as your main source of evidence for the place paper you'll be writing, except perhaps to confirm ancillary points that aren't central to your main research.

In my own perusal of Wikipedia entries relevant to the next couple lectures, the following all seemed like they might be of interest. I'll list them here just to get you started, but remember: these are NOT required readings. Please approach them as invitations for your own explorations of what Wikipedia has to offer about mining landscapes. You're the one discovering what you want to learn. You're the decider. You're the wanderer.

That's the spirit of play and serendipity that usually yields the best, most insightful, and most productive browsing ... even though, paradoxically, it doesn't initially seem like it's pointed at any very "productive" goal at all.

Here's my list of pages that might be worth perusing, but it's just my list. I do recommend that you read several entries that are fairly broad in their focus (e.g., "Mining" or "Gold Rush") and then begin to drill down conceptually or geographically or historically toward topics and places that are more focused (e.g., "California Gold Rush" or "History of Coal Mining in the United States" or "Copper Mining in Michigan"). After that, just let yourself go sideways toward anything that catches your fancy.


Gold Rush:

California Gold Rush:

Sutter's Mill:'s Mill


Placer Mining:

Silver Mining:

Comstock Lode:

Sutro Tunnel:

Hydraulic Mining:

Klondike Gold Rush:

Butte, Montana:,_Montana

Western Federation of Miners:

History of Chinese Americans (includes significant section on Chinese role in the Gold Rush):

General Mining Act of 1872:

History of Coal Mining:

History of Coal Mining in the United States:

History of Coal Miners:

Timeline of Mining in Colorado:

Uranium Mining and the Navajo People:

Hydraulic Fracturing in the United States:

History of the Oil Shale Industry in the United States:

Mining Accident:

Pendarvis, Wisconsin:,_Wisconsin

Copper Mining in Michigan:

Calumet and Hecla Mining Company:

Iron Ore:

Iron Mining in the United States:

Mesabi Range:

Diamond Hoax of 1872:

Clarence King

I could go on for quite a while longer -- Wikipedia truly is a treasure trove -- but this should be enough for now. Have fun!!


P.S.: You may have noticed that I've inserted .m. as the second element in many of the Wikipedia entries I've given you. The general Wikipedia entry on "Mining" looks like this:
But if you add .m. to convert it to
you'll force your browser to format the page as if you were reading it on a mobile phone (hence ".m."). The mobile-formatted version of these pages omits the HTML frame that typically surrounds Wikipedia content, making it easier to copy and paste that content if you're gathering material for your notes.

Long Email Exchange re Story of How Minneapolis Got Its Name, Sent on 10/20/16


I thought you might enjoy reading an exchange I've just had with one of your fellow students, Sanober Mirza, who noticed while reviewing for the midterm exam that there appeared to be a factual error to something I said toward the very end of my lecture on place names. You may remember that I told a story about how Minnesota's largest city got its name. Here's what I said as summarized on our class note sheet:

One of the best-known examples [of Americans inventing place names using the Greek suffix -polis, meaning city] is Minneapolis: which originally derived from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s much-loved poem “Hiawatha." The name of the woman that Hiawatha loved in that poem was Minnehaha (a name from the Dakota name for river, Mnisota, “clear or cloudy blue water”). So, in 1852, the local citizens of the new city at the Falls of St. Anthony on the Minnesota River proposed that their town be called Minnehahapolis, which was then shortened to Minneapolis.

I derived this account from a 1972 book by C. M. Mathews called Place Names of the English-Speaking World, which is generally a useful, reliable, and wide-ranging survey of its topic.

But Sanober noticed a problem with this story. Here's what she wrote me:

Hi Bill,

I was studying lecture notes and decided to do a little research to learn more about Longfellow’s “The Song of Hiawatha.” Upon searching it, I saw that it was published in 1855. However in the lecture notes, it says that local citizens of Minneapolis came together in 1852 and had the conversation about “Minneahaha-polis.”

Could you clarify this confusion? An answer after the midterm is fine; I’m just purely curious about the city’s name origin.


I was taken aback by Sanober's question, because of course I don't want to be promulgating erroneous information to all of you ... but place names are notorious for false or folkloric etymologies, so I knew I should check to see whether Mathews' account might be inaccurate. I checked the publication date of Longfellow's poem (which was indeed 1855), just as Sanober had done, and tried quickly to check when Minneapolis was named--and 1852 was the right date for that as well. So Sanober was exactly correct: the name of the heroine in Longfellow's poem, Minnehaha, could not be the source of Minneapolis's name.

That much I had confirmed when I taught my discussion section on Wednesday morning (the one Sanober is in), so I spent a few minutes (with her permission) using this as an example of how important it is to check the accuracy of historical dates and interpretations. While doing so, I offered an alternative hypothesis for what might have happened when Minneapolis was named, a hypothesis that occurred to me while walking to class. I knew that Longfellow had heavily depended for his story of Hiawatha on the writings of Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, who wrote several highly influential accounts of Indian life and legends in the upper Great Lakes. Perhaps the citizens of the soon-to-be-named Minneapolis had gotten the name not from Longfellow but from Schoolcraft. I told the class I hadn't checked this, but that I would do so before I accepted it as a solution to the riddle.

After class, I retreated to my office to do some more sleuthing, and quickly learned that my on-the-fly hypothesis couldn't be right either. Although Longfellow had relied heavily on Schoolcraft for his story about Hiawatha and Minnehaha, Schoolcraft's version of the legend used a different name for its Indian hero--and the name Minnehaha didn't appear in Schoolcraft's version at all. So I knew I had more work to do.

Two hours later (!), I sent Sanober the following email, which may interest some of you as an example of what historical sleuthing sometimes looks like. Don't feel you need to follow all of the links if you're not so inclined (though some are pretty interesting). But it turns out to be a fascinating example of how places get their names and then stories build up around those names over time. In this case,

  • a Euroamerican misinterpretation in 1849 of a pair of Dakota words...
  • led to the creation of a place name in modern-day Minneapolis called "Minnehaha Falls," which Americans believed meant "laughing waters," and...
  • it was that false etymology that led Longfellow to choose this word as the name of the heroine in his famous "Song of Hiawatha."
  • The same waterfall (not Longfellow's poem) was in the minds of the city's residents when they chose Minneapolis for its name...
  • but the poem was so famous that it was forever after associated with Minneapolis,
  • even though the events it described had no historical basis relative to that city.'s what I wrote to Sanober about how I figured this out. Enjoy!


Dear Sanober--

Well, I've just come out of the deep rabbit hole you sent me down with your email, and I now know that the hypothesis I offered in our discussion section--that Henry Rowe Schoolcraft and not Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was the source of the Minnehaha name that played a role in the creation of the place name for Minneapolis--isn't correct either.

I'm pretty sure of this because Schoolcraft's story that Longfellow used as the basis for his poem "The Song of Hiawatha" gave a different name for the main character, Manabhozho, and Schoolcraft had no character named Minnehaha. Only after Longfellow's poem was published did Schoolcraft revise his original 1839 book (entitled Algic Researches) to foreground the name Longfellow used.

If you're interested, you can read Schoolcraft's original version here: on page 134 of the first volume, or, more conveniently, as the newly rearranged first chapter in the revised 1856 version, renamed "The Myth of Hiawatha" to link his book to Longfellow's already famous poem: Longfellow's poem is conveniently online at Project Gutenberg:

The verse in which Longfellow explains that Hiawatha's lover, Minnehaha, was named for a waterfall in what is today Minneapolis (a satellite view of that waterfall is online here:, runs as follows:

With him dwelt his dark-eyed daughter,
Wayward as the Minnehaha,
With her moods of shade and sunshine,
Eyes that smiled and frowned alternate,
Feet as rapid as the river,
Tresses flowing like the water,
And as musical a laughter:
And he named her from the river,
From the water-fall he named her,
Minnehaha, Laughing Water.

Schoolcraft and Longfellow's versions of these supposed Indian myths were highly romanticized by both writers, a fact that Wikipedia does a good job of discussing: and

Longfellow's poem was hugely popular in its day, and you may know that there's a famous statue depicting Hiawatha and Minnehaha which you can still see in Minneapolis's Minnehaha Park:
So residents of Minneapolis undoubtedly do now associate Longfellow's poem with their city, and many no doubt believe that there is some historical connection between the events depicted in the poem and their local landscape. But those are consequences of Longfellow's decision to name his heroine after a waterfall in Minneapolis whose name Longfellow incorrectly believed meant "laughing waters." The story of Hiawatha and Minnehaha had no factual basis in local geography or history before the poem was published.

Bottom line: you are absolutely correct that Longfellow's poem (published in 1855) could not have been in the minds of Minneapolis's citizens when the name for their city was proposed (in 1852), so the story I told in lecture (which I accurately recounted from what turns out to be the false etymology described in C. M. Mathews' Place Names of the English-Speaking World, 1972, which is generally pretty reliable) is clearly false.

I did some rummaging, and can now give you a more accurate version of how Minneapolis came to be named, though even here there are problems of false etymology at work, as is often the case with names derived from native languages.

The most reliable source for Minnesota place names is Warren Upham's Minnesota Geographic Names, which first appeared 1920. You'll find Upham's account of how Minneapolis got its name on pp 223-24, which, happily, is online at
Also worth reading is Upham's entry for Minnehaha, which you'll find on pp 230-31, here:
For an additional early account of the discussions leading up to the naming of Minneapolis, see:

Most concisely and relevantly, George R. Stewart's American Place-Names dictionary (1970) does a nice job of summarizing the various issues associated with these place names, which can serve as case studies for how problematic Euro-American names based on Indian sources can be.

Here's what Stewart says about Minneapolis:

Minneapolis MN From a combination of Minnehaha and the Greek polis, 'city'; the 'a' is a remnant of the original name, which was coined as Minnehapolis.

And here's Stewart's even more interesting entry on Minnehaha (which, again, is the name of the waterfall in Minneapolis for which Longfellow named his heroine, visible on Google Maps here:

Minnehaha Siouan water-falls. A romantic misinterpretation in 1849 gave the meaning 'laughing waters,' and on this basis Longfellow chose the name of the heroine of 'Hiawatha.' In fact, the actual coupling of the two genuine Siouan words [Stewart here refers to mni, "water," and ȟaȟá, "to fall"] was probably done by the Americans, beginning in 1849. The interpretation 'laughing' was apparently done under the misapprehension that haha was, as it might be in English, an attempt to imitate the sound of laughter. The whole jumble is a good example of the way in which romantically inaccurate interpretations have confused the situation with Indian names. Minnehaha Falls MN: the name is still maintained on the 'original' falls, which thus is tautological, i.e., water-waterfalls-falls. The name has been transferred to the creek, and under the influence of 'Hiawatha' appears in Minnehaha Springs WV, though this is not in Siouan territory.

Anyway...this is more than you ever wanted to know in response to your question, but an excellent demonstration of how hard you sometimes have to work to figure out the origins of certain place names!

Thanks for taking the trouble to check about this. I really appreciate it. Would you object to my sharing these emails with the full class in case anyone else is interested?


Reminder re Wisconsin Historical Society Tours, Sent on 10/20/16


This is just a quick reminder to make sure you've made plans to take the tour of the Wisconsin Historical Society Library and Archives either yesterday, today, or the first three days of next week. Our remaining tour slots are as follows:

Wisconsin Historical Society Tours
Thursday, Oct 20, 4:00-5:00pm
Monday, Oct 24, 4:00-5:00pm
Tuesday, Oct 25, 9:00-10:00am
Wednesday, Oct 26, 4:00-5:00pm

These tours will be very helpful to you for the final place paper assignment, not only because the Historical Society is one of the best libraries in the world for researching this paper, but because many of the best sources there are not available online. Learning to do physical searches in the physical library will give you access to some amazing sources, as you've already experienced at the Map Library. Please do make time to take this tour.

Have a good weekend, and we'll see you on Monday!


469 Note Sheets Posted, Further Exam Details, Sent 10/15/16


Well...I got my MacBook back late yesterday afternoon, and after nearly a full day of restoring and rebuilding its hard drive, I'm finally fully back up and running and able to proceed again with a whole series of tasks for our course. What a nightmare...whew.

Please read the following carefully, since it includes some new details about the upcoming exam that the TA's and I only resolved in the past couple days.

1) I have just posted the note sheet for the lecture on transportation. You'll find it, along with all the other lecture notes up until last Monday, on our course web page at

2) Ben, Daniel, and I talked about the material we'd like to cover on the midterm and we've decided that the material starting with the lecture on Indian Country this past Wednesday, as well as Monday's lecture on comparative empires, is much more linked to the material we'll be covering the post-midterm portion of the course, so we've decided that we will NOT include anything from those two lectures on the mid-term. (You're of course welcome to include any details from those lectures that feel appropriate to whatever blue book essay you choose to write, but you will not be formally responsible for that material until the final exam.)

3) I'll try to get Wednesday and Monday's note sheets posted as soon as I can, but given my computer crisis and the decision we've made not to draw on those two lectures for the exam, I may not complete them for a while; writing Monday's lecture has to be my priority from now until Monday afternoon.

4) Please remember that our big review session for the mid-term exam will be this coming Monday evening, October 17, from 7:00-8:30pm in 2650 Humanities. It should be quite helpful in preparing you for the exam, so please try to attend if you can; and if you cannot, it would be helpful to talk with one of your classmates who can.

5) In discussion sections this week--which are meeting--we'll talk further about the exam, and will bring along a sample question to discuss and brainstorm about together. Please come to section with any and all questions you may have that would be helpful to talk about as you prepare.

6) Remember too that we strongly encourage you to study with one or more of your classmates for this exam. Doing so will almost certainly amplify the effectiveness of your review.

7) We will be returning your first paper in section the week after the exam; given how close this section is to the time of the mid-term, we didn't think it would be helpful to turn back a graded assignment just before some students will be taking their first exam.

8) The mid-term itself is in class during our regular time from 2:30-3:45pm on Wednesday, October 19. Auditors should take note and do NOT need to attend that day.

9) Finally, remember that we're planning to talk about the final place paper assignment in section next week, so please come to section prepared to describe the place you've chosen, what most interests you about the history of its landscape, and any indication you can give of the kinds of sources you think will be available to you for researching it.

That's all for now. Good luck with your studying, and we'll see you on Monday!


Note Sheets for 469 Lectures to Date Are Now All Posted, with Important Downloadable Files, Sent 10/9/16


I'm writing to let you know that I've posted the remaining note sheets for all lectures from 469 through this past Wednesday. My apologies for taking so long to get them prepared for you.

Because so many of the graphics and images in my lectures are copyrighted, I'm not able to share actual PowerPoint files with you, but I've tried when I can in these notes to supply links to images on other websites so you can peruse them for yourself. So although the note sheets may look very text-heavy from your point of view, if you work through them carefully and click on the active links, you'll find visual material that should help consolidate your memory of what happened in lecture.

In most cases, I've supplied the actual URLs right in the note sheet, but in a few cases (where the URL was very long and complicated, posting formatting problems for the web page), I've created a hot link under the name of a particular image. (That's true, for instance, of Thomas Cole, "View from Mt. Holyoke, or The Oxbow," 1836 and John Mix Stanley's, Oregon City on the Willamette River, 1850-52 in last week's lecture on "Telling Tales on Canvas.")

You'll also want to notice a couple larger downloads that are available to you from two of these note sheets. I've given you a link to the original published article on which "Telling Tales on Canvas" was based: William Cronon, "Telling Tales on Canvas: Landscapes of Frontier Change," in the book Discovered Lands, Invented Pasts: Transforming Visions of the American West (1992). If you're interested (it's *not* required), you can read that original essay here: PDF

Also, I've created a PDF of the portion of last week's "A Path out of Town" lecture in which I used a sequence of historical aerial photographs to analyze suburban development in the vicinity of West Towne Mall near the Beltline in southwestern Madison. You can access that PDF here: PDF

That's all for now. Please be sure to have read Christopher Wells's Car Country for this week's discussion section. It will be an important part of the midterm exam, and is likely to be very helpful for many of your place papers as well. See you Monday!


Additional Reading Assignment for Next Week's Section, and Reminders about Upcoming Sections, Sent 9/27/16


I wanted to send along written notice for those of you who might have missed it in lecture that we have decided to add an assigned reading for next week's discussion section: an essay of mine entitled "A Place for Stories: Nature, History, and Narrative," Journal of American History 78:4 (March, 1992), p.1347-1376. As you'll see in tomorrow's lecture, it addresses a series of issues that are at the heart of this entire course, and I'm quite sure you'll find it helpful not just for understanding the lecture, but for other materials we'll be covering later in the semester and maybe especially for your place papers.

You can access the essay from our online HTML course syllabus, from the Downloads page of my website at, or directly from this link: It's only 29 pages long, so you should also start reading Christopher Wells's Car Country, our first book-length reading assignment, which we'll discuss in sections two weeks from now.

I've added some links to our course page for supplemental materials that should help with your reading of Car Country, including:
1) A link to Chris Wells' web page for the book, including a brief video about it;
2) A study guide written by Kate Wersan, a former TA, with lots of great tips for how to approach the book; and
3) My foreword for the book.
You'll probably benefit from looking these over *before* you start working your way through Car Country.

Finally, remember that we'll spend much of our time in next week's section discussing your first paper assignment, which is due at the beginning of lecture this coming Monday, October 3. You'll find full details describing it in our syllabus, so please be sure to read those carefully if you've not recently done so. Please come to section next week prepared to spend three minutes or so describing the photo(s) and place you chose to write about, what you learned from the exercise, and what most surprised or intrigued you about comparing a present landscape with old photo(s) of that place. Please be sure to bring to section a copy of any photographs or images you discussed in your paper so you can share them with your classmates.

See you tomorrow!


Email Reminder about Course Web Page, Sent 9/20/16


Some students are apparently still confused about how to access the course web page for 469. We are NOT using Learn@UW in this course (though you can access library e-reserves via that route if you'd like). Instead, almost all of our content (other than e-reserves, which you must reach via Learn@UW or via the library's e-reserves page) is linked from this one master page:

You should be sure to study its contents carefully (along with the syllabus!) so you'll know the various links it contains--links that will literally be changing from week to week as new lecture notes and other materials are added.

Please bookmark this URL, but remember too that you can always reach it simply by Googling "cronon 469."

If you discover problems or errors on this page or others related to the course, please let me know. We're making this up as we go along, and although we're trying to get everything right, there will inevitably be errors that creep in, and we'd like to correct them if sharper eyes than ours find them!


Email about Note Sheets, a New Historical Atlas of UW-Madison Campus, and a Reminder about UW Archives Tours, Sent 9/18/16


After a lot of work on the part of Spring and myself (as well as some very able helpers at the UW Cartographic Laboratory and Map Library), I'm happy to report that I've just finished updating our course web page with two important sets of materials:

1) The note sheets have now been updated through last Wednesday's lecture. Editing the "Introduction to North America" took longer than usual because I wound up adding a lot of links to a number of the maps I showed in lecture so you can explore them on your own. Please don't feel overwhelmed by these! You will NOT be required to remember vast quantities of cartographic minutiae from these maps. Instead, we want you to spend some time reflecting on the broad geographical, topographical, geological, ecological, and physiographic patterns that we explored in last Wednesday's lecture. Perusing the links on the note sheet is one way to do that. At the bottom of the note sheet, I've also supplied a number of key places and concepts that you should try to locate on a map, a number of which will prove important as the semester unfolds. You can review these lists occasionally as a kind of study guide for places for which you should be on the lookout as we proceed.

2) I've also finished compiling a resource that should be helpful to you for the first assignment, and also, more generally, for beginning to think about a landscape you know well--the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus--relative to the historical changes that have shaped it. At the bottom of our course web page, you'll now find a link to a brand-new "Historical Atlas of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Campus": It offers aerial photographs of the campus in four years 1937, 1949, 1976, and 2015 (the latter in both color and black & white to help you get used to viewing the earlier ones only in black & white). By opening these different photos and comparing them, you can learn a great deal about how the campus has changed since the 1930s. At the bottom of the page are links to other resources for exploring the landscape history of the campus, all of which should be helpful as you prepare to do your first paper for the course.

Finally, please remember that there are still two opportunities for you to tour the wonderful collections of the UW Archives in Steenbock Library if you haven't already done so:
Mon Sept 19 4-5pm
Tues Sept 20 3-4pm
Please go if you possibly can!

See you Monday afternoon at 2:30pm.


Email about Campus and UW Archives Tours Sent on 9/12/16


This is a reminder that we'll be spending time touring the eastern part of campusduring sections this week, so please don't be late. We'll leave our classrooms right at the start of section, so if you're not there on time, you may have trouble finding the rest of your group (though checking in the direction of Library Mall may help you find your group).

Also, please be aware that there's rain in the forecast at least for Tuesday's sections. Hopefully it won't interfere with our tours too much (we'll try to move more of the tours indoors if precipitation gets too heavy), but please dress appropriately for a rainy (and possibly cool) hour spent outdoors. A rain jacket and sturdy shoes would be a good idea, and if you have an umbrella it might make it easier for you to look at your surroundings as the rain comes down.

As I announced in lecture today, we have also arranged this week with the University Archivist, David Null, to offer a special tour of the UW-Madison Archives designed to help students in 469 both with their first paper, as well as their place paper if they decide to write about a campus subject. The Archives is a real historical treasure trove, and you won't regret getting to know it, especially given the kinds of documents David is planning to show you. So please try if at all possible to attend one of the five tours scheduled at the following times:

UW-Madison Archives Tours, 4th Floor, Steenbock Library Wed Sept 14, 9-10am, 4-5pm
Thurs Sept 15, 3-4pm
Mon Sept 19 4-5pm
Tues Sept 20 3-4pm
(these are the times in the syllabus, and have now been confirmed).

If you've never been to Steenbock Library before, here's a link to its location on the Campus Map: It's about a 15-minute walk from the Humanities Building, so you should be able to get there right after Wednesday's and Monday's lectures if those are good times for you.

See you soon!


Introductory Email Sent on 9/5/16


Welcome to History/Geography/Environmental Studies 469, "The Making of the American Landscape," in which you are currently enrolled. We're delighted you've decided to join us for the semester!

This is a brand-new course, never before taught at UW-Madison and with few models at other colleges or universities, so it's taken longer than usual to nail down all of its details. I've just updated the course webpage at
where you’ll find links to the full syllabus in both HTML and PDF format. Please bookmark this page, since we’ll be posting lecture notes and other course materials on it as the semester unfolds.

Our first lecture meeting is this week on Wednesday, September 7, from 2:30-3:45pm in 2650 Humanities. PLEASE NOTE: We will ALSO be holding discussion sections this week, so please plan to attend section as well, even though most will take place before the first lecture.

Here are a few more details that may be helpful for you to know as you prepare for the new semester.p>


Because we drew a truly awful final exam slot this year – December 23! – we’ve opted not to hold a comprehensive final exam on that date. Instead, we’ll hold an in-class final exam on the day of our final lecture meeting, December 14, covering only course material from after the midterm. (The mid-term exam is in class on October 19.) We will hold special evening review sessions for the midterm and final on October 17 and December 12, both on Monday evenings from 7:00-8:30pm. Please mark these dates on your calendar and plan accordingly.


If you are currently registered for a section in the course that you cannot actually attend, you must drop that section and register for another section that you *are* able to attend. You cannot simply switch sections informally, and you can only change to a section that has openings available. Be forewarned that being registered in a section you cannot actually attend gives you NO claim on any other sections of the course, so there is no incentive to remain registered in a section you know you cannot attend. Remaining in such a section prevents other students from registering for it, so you will be doing everyone a favor if you drop that section as soon as possible. If you're still trying to find a section that will work for you, you should check the Registrar's website for 469 as frequently as you can between now and the end of registration to see if anything opens up; if it does, you should grab the open slot that works for you as quickly as possible. That is the only way you'll be able to take the course. Section leaders will NOT permit students attend sections in which they are not actually registered.


If you are an Honors undergraduate or a graduate student not already registered for Section 301, which I myself teach from 8:50-9:40am on Wednesdays, and if you would like to be considered for permission to transfer into that section, please send an email to me at at your earliest convenience (and no later than right after the first lecture) so I'll know of your interest and your reasons for being interested in the Honors/grad section. I'll make decisions about admitting a few more students into that section sometime next week shortly after the first lecture. The sooner you can be in touch with me if you're interested in transferring, the better.


Again, we have a course page on my personal website at which you'll want to get to know well. Handouts will appear on it with outline notes for each individual lecture, along with many other resources relating to the course. I've just uploaded and provided links to the full syllabus, which you'll find formatted both for printing and for on-screen viewing. The HTML version of the syllabus can be accessed at
which I'd urge you to read carefully as soon as possible (but remember that this is NOT the best version for printing). It gives a comprehensive overview of all assignments, including the three required books that are on sale at the University Bookstore in case you want to try to acquire copies at more favorable prices. Printed copies of the syllabus will be available for everyone at the first lecture. A PDF version is available from the course web page as well. The online version linked above has the advantage of including many active (clickable) links to web pages, so do take a look at it in case some of those links might be of interest to you.


Pay special attention to the very detailed section of the syllabus describing written assignments for the course. These include the final "place paper" (moved to this course from History/Geography/Environmental Studies 460) that you'll be turning in at the end of the semester, which counts for 30% of your grade. We encourage you to be thinking about and working on your place paper all semester long. The sooner you can identify the place about which you'll be writing, the better able you'll be to integrate material from the course into what you have to say about it. You'll soon find many samples of place papers written by past students accessible via our course page, and those will give you a better sense of the kinds of places you might wish to write about.


As you can probably already tell, we rely heavily on email to communicate with students in 469, so please get in the habit of checking email regularly for communications like this one. (Most won't be nearly as long as this one!) We archive all of the most important of these emails on the course website at
which is accessible along with everything else via the course web page at ... another good reason to make sure you bookmark this last link and visit it regularly. Give it a try now and you'll find this email already there.

That's all for now. We're looking forward to seeing you in the next couple days. Welcome aboard!

Bill Cronon and the rest of the 469 Team,
Daniel Grant
Spring Greeney
Ben Kasten