The Gateway Center is Open

legacy hallOn October 24, 2014, the University of Wyoming dedicated its newest building: the Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center, now home to the UW Alumni Association, Admissions, Career Services and the UW Foundation. It contains office and collaborative space for these units as they support and promote the university.

However, the best feature of the building (in my humble opinion) is the McMurry Family UW Legacy Hall. It prominently features an interactive timeline that tells the history of the university though static and digital displays. I’ve spent the last year curating these exhibits, researching the university’s history in the University Archives and at the American Heritage Center, among many places. The static and digital exhibits are a collaboration between the AHC and the UW Foundation and will continue to be changed and updated. We’ve also collaborated with a design company, which has created the display technology for the timeline. It’s a prime example for how digital technology can enhance historical research and content and bring it to the public in an engaging and interactive way. Furthermore, the partnership with the Foundation has also taught me some interesting lessons in historical perspective, writing for a wide and mostly non-academic audience, and the dramatic differences between marketing folks and historians.

The Legacy Hall also houses a display about distinguished leaders and alumni, and a permanent exhibition highlighting the impact of Wyoming’s energy industry.

Mick and Susie McMurry agreed to pose with me. They are some of the nicest people ever.

Mick and Susie McMurry agreed to pose with me. They are some of the nicest people ever.

Speaking with former Senator Al Simpson about the exhibits

Speaking with former Senator Al Simpson about the exhibits

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Gateway Center Opening Countdown

A couple more days, and the Gateway Center at the University of Wyoming will open. I went to the Legacy Hall today to visit my exhibit, and my colleagues Rick Walters and Holly Wood were kind enough to take some photos. Thank you, Rick and Holly!

My timeline in the background. It consists of fifteen static panels and two monitors, which slide across the wall and display additional interactive content

My timeline in the background. It consists of fifteen static panels and two monitors, which slide across the wall and display additional interactive content

This wall features UW's most distinguished leaders and alumni

This wall features UW’s most distinguished leaders and alumni

The Legacy Hall, which houses the exhibits I've been working on for the past year.

The Legacy Hall, which houses the exhibits I’ve been working on for the past year.

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2014 Western History Association Conference

Featured image  Newport Beach  California!

This year’s conference was held in Newport Beach, CA. I flew out to John Wayne Airport in Orange County on Thursday, Oct. 16, and for the next four days found myself in history heaven. Every year, I am absolutely convinced that it couldn’t possibly be better next year and that I made the absolute most of my time, and then I meet all these wonderful people and find myself at even greater heights of happiness.This year’s conference was fabulous! Not only did I have the opportunity to reconnect with my friends and colleagues from the Cody Papers Project and the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, WY, but also spend some time with my dear friend Peter Blodgett from the Huntington Library and the heroes from my grad school reading list. (Yes, that’s you David Wrobel, Walter Nugent, Glenn Penny, and Carl Abbott!) I also wWHA 2014ent to quite a few interesting and inspiring sessions and tried very hard (and successfully, I think), to engage in the scholarly discussions that followed.  I walked away with a feeling of appreciation and admiration for my colleagues, who have welcomed me with open arms and given loads of advice and reassurance for my future scholarly endeavors. Not only did I garner enough motivation and confidence to finally send my book manuscript off to be edited for publication (Oklahoma Press is going to take me on), but I also have a very promising idea for a new book project. I am also inspired to think about a new public history project that combines elements from the digital humanities with Wyoming history and Interstate 80, which is known as a long, boring stretch of nothingness across southern Wyoming. Now I just need to find me some time to tackle all of this! 🙂

Oh yes, and I went to the beach. And to a couple of awesome restaurants with some wonderful people.

We ducked out of the sessions on Saturday afternoon and visited the beach. What a fabulous afternoon!

We ducked out of the sessions on Saturday afternoon and visited the beach. What a fabulous afternoon!  

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Museum Exhibit Installation

This week, something really exciting happened: the panels for my university history exhibit went up in the Legacy Hall at the UW Gateway Center! It’s so awesome to see all this work come to life in the space! The building overall is beautiful, and the details are stunning. I am so excited to be a part of this project!

Now that the panels are up, we are fervently working to get the digital components up and running. Three weeks to go to the Grand Opening!

Here is a link that talks about the McMurry Legacy Hall in more detail. Click: Exhibits!

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Michael P. Malone Conference

In September, I participated in the Michael Malone Conference, hosted by the Department of History and Philosophy at Montana State University. The focus was on recent scholarship that puts Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show and other exhibitionary forms in transnational context, with special emphasis on the show’s tours of Europe between 1887 and 1907.

We met in Bozeman for a keynote lecture, delivered by Bob Rydell (MSU) and Rob Kroes from the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands. They are the authors of Buffalo Bill in Bologna: The Americanization of the World, 1869-1922, a fascinating study about the process of globalizing American mass culture. Bob spoke about an Italian journal that featured a caricature of Buffalo Bill riding a frog on its front page, and Rob focused on the fascinating history of exhibiting exotic peoples in both Europe and the United States.

The next day we drove through Yellowstone National Park and into Cody, where we visited the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. The curator of the Buffalo Bill Museum and managing editor of the papers of William F. Cody, Jeremy Johnston, talked about both the museum and the papers project to the conference participants, and Jaap Verheul from the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands, gave a fascinating overview of a new digital project he initiated. He talked about how Digital Humanities methodologies can be used to analyze how Buffalo Bill was represented in the collection of digitized newspapers in the National Library of the Netherlands. The day ended with a presentation of MSU faculty member Walter Fleming on “‘Laying Out Ten to See a Dead Indian’: Wild Westing and Those Who were left behind.” And then, of course, I couldn’t let the Europeans try all the local beers on their own. 🙂 The Irma was really the last stop of the day!

We left Cody the next morning and drove through Yellowstone again, ending up near Big Sky, MT at the 320 Guest Ranch. The first item was the Roundtable Discussion with contributors to The Popular Frontier: Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Transcontinental Mass Culture, an essay collection edited by BYU Professor Frank Christianson, who is awesome. Participants were Monica Rico (Lawrence), Renee Laegrid (Wyoming), Robert Rydell, and myself. (Really everybody was pretty awesome!) After an interesting discussion during which I decided to rewrite half my paper (or close to it), we calmed down with a few drinks and a fantastic dinner. I really do like these Dutchies! Dinner was followed by a movie, or better yet, a presentation by MSU faculty member Andrew Nelson entitled “‘I Was Afraid I was Going to Make a Fool of Myself’: Buffalo Bill at the Movies.” This was followed by some more drinks and a really good time. Although, a country barn dance would have been nice! 😉  After a long and cozy conversation with a very smart and pleasant colleague, I went back to my two-bedroom-would-have-shared-with-three-other-people cabin by the river.

The next morning was filled with two panels; the first examined “Cultural Connections” of the Wild West from a local to a global scale, and the second panel examined “American Orientalism in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Pawnee Bill’s Far East.” I left the ranch at 1pm and got back to Laramie at 11pm that night.

Overall, a fantastic experience! Not only did I gain a broader understanding of my own research topic, but also met some wonderful new people and reconnected with longtime colleagues.

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New employment!

In a lucky turn of events, I was able to get myself hired, not for one, but for two jobs. Going from a stay-at-home-mom (more or less, with a public lecture on the side and a dissertation to revise for publishing) to a full-time university employee is going to change life for me and my family dramatically!

From now on, you will find me teaching a German class (!) every morning. I would have laughed obnoxiously at you if you had told me 2 months ago that this was going to happen, but since I am a native speaker and a language instructor for English, I guess I am somewhat pre-qualified for this. I’m looking forward to being back on campus, and even though it is not a history classroom, it will be nice nevertheless to be teaching again.

Secondly, I was hired as the primary researcher and exhibit curator for the University of Wyoming’s new Gateway Center. We will be installing an exhibit featuring the history of the University and its notable alumni. I am excited to be working with a technology company that has already developed an exhibit design that includes over 2 million dollars worth of digital equipment. I will be digging through the American Heritage Center’s extensive archival collections as well as those of the University of Wyoming Library and put together an exhibit worthy of the awesome space that the University of Wyoming is building for its students!

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Welcome! Here’s what I’ve been up to:

Thanks for visiting my page. I am primarily a historian of the American West and particularly interested in the ways in which the West has been linked to the rest of the world. My current research focus is the transnational West in a broad, global context.
I am also a Public Historian, an associate editor for The Papers of William F. Cody, an amateur fiction writer, and a mom to two kids, who are three and five years old.

 

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October 20, 2013 · 9:04 pm