Jonathan Rees

History 491

Fall 2014


This is going to be a very strange course. Strange for you. Strange for me.  It is an experiential learning class.  That means much of your work and learning will take place at the Bessemer Historical Society’s CF&I Archives. It’s also a hybrid class.  That means much of the meeting, conversing and learning will be done online, both through various programs and an online blog.

That also means that we will not meet every Thursday afternoon at 5:30PM (although I am usually available to talk at that time with advance notice).  You can also schedule an appointment with me using this open Google Calendar.  [If I’m not available (like at 3AM), it won’t let you make an appointment.]

In order to facilitate communication between you and I, having an e-mail is one of many electronic requirements related to this course.  I will be collecting e-mails from you on the first day of the course.  You will want to give me an address that you check fairly frequently because I will use it if I need to get a hold of you for course-related business.  All correspondence with me should go through the university e-mail listed above.  All assignments (including draft papers, but excluding final papers) should be sent to

This University abides by the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which stipulates that no student shall be denied the benefits of an education “solely by reason of a handicap.”  If you have a documented disability that may impact your work in this class and for which you may require accommodations, please see the Disability Resource Coordinator as soon as possible to arrange accommodations.  In order to receive accommodations, you must be registered with and provide documentation of your disability to:  the Disability Resource Office, which is located in the Library and Academic Resources Center, Suite 169.

Required Reading and Technological Tools


Montoya, Fawn Amber, Ed.  CF&I The Making of an American Workforce.

Rees, Jonathan. Representation and Rebellion: The Rockefeller Plan at the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, 1914-1942.


A one-year, student account at Reclaim Hosting ($25).


As this is an unconventional class, it will be graded in an unconventional way.  While it will be graded on an A-F scale, individual assignments will not be graded.  If they are sufficient, you will receive ten points for them.  If you do not complete an assignment or it is not sufficient, you will get a zero.  There are ten “assignments,” worth ten points each.  Get one hundred points and you’ll get an A. Ninety points will bet you a “B.”  An Eighty a “C,” and so forth.

Here are your tasks:

  1. Get Web Site, Start Blog, Join Dropbox.

Each of these tasks should be completed on the very first day of class. You will acquire your own web site (!!! or anything else you desire) through Reclaim Hosting.  One of the plug-ins that come with this blog is WordPress, a common blogging software.  You’ll load Omeka this first night to make your exhibit assignments possible.  Then we’ll go over the basic information needed so that you can begin to post information about your research experience.  Dropbox is a file backup and filesharing program through which he class will exchange files.  We’ll cover that night one as well.

2 and 3. Wiki Entries.

The Southern Colorado History Wiki is at

Your assignments are to research and compose two entries for the Southern Colorado History wiki: One broad entry as a group and one individual entry that would fall under that subject. Group entries might focus on subjects like a single town (like Walsenberg), a region (like the San Luis Valley), an industry (like smelting) or an activity (like baseball). An individual entry should involve something that would serve as a subheading of your larger group entry like the Walsenberg town hall, a smaller town in the San Luis Valley (like Alamosa) a particular smelter or a particular baseball team. You cannot kill two birds with one stone, but the two assignments will be linked on the wiki.

Writing for a wiki is different than writing for a professor. It should be research based, but since it is intended for a broader audience it should be primarily narrative, moving from the very broad towards the very specific. That means that all entries should begin with an introduction to your subject rather than with a thesis. Group entries should be between 2,000 and 3,000 words and contain at least 10 images. Individual entries should be between 500 and 1,000 words and contain at least three images.

Writing a wiki entry requires additional skills not usually utilized in writing assignments. Besides explaining yourself, you need to decide how best to contextualize and illustrate your explanations. Since you have group entries, you also need to learn how to work with others (including the staff who man the depositories where your historical material resides).

4. Omeka or WordPress Exhibit #1 (small groups)

Omeka is a programwhich we will load on the first day of class.  It is an exhibit program to display electronic objects. We’ll be getting ALL our electronic  objects through the Colorado Fuel and Iron Archives. In groups of two, you will plan, create and upload an exhibit about a Colorado Fuel and Iron Company-related subject of your choice.  You can also use WordPress for the same purpose and can do so if we can figure that out easier.

A topic and plan of organization will have to be approved in advance of your work on the actual exhibit.  Those MUST be e-mailed to me one month before the appointed final exam period (November 11th). Before the end of the semester, you’ll need to e-mail me two paragraphs explaining your contributions to the small group project.

5.  Omeka or WordPress Exhibit #2 (Sopris Project)

The Sopris project is a longterm effort to recreate the mining town of Sopris, Colorado online.  On the class blog, I’ll be displaying information and dividing tasks related to this effort.  This semester we’ll be annotating an online map of Sopris (above and below ground) using a program called StoryMap.  We’ll determine how many and which parts to annotate once the semester gets under way.

Before the end of the semester, you’ll need to e-mail me two paragraphs explaining your contributions to the Sopris Project.

6.  and 7.  Book-Related Papers

In a two- to three-page, double-spaced paper, explain the relationship between each of the assigned textbooks and its sources.  How do the authors use their archival sources?  Specifically, what kinds of information do the materials in the Colorado Fuel and Iron Archives provide that the authors probably couldn’t get elsewhere?  The book by Montoya will not be available until September. I’ll note on the blog when the bookstore has copies.

8.  One blog post per week

On your blog, write one post about your work on this course each week.  Those posts should discuss what you’ve done that week for the purposes of finishing these tasks.  I’d also like those blog posts to give me an idea when you’ll be working at the archives during the next week so that I might have a chance to visit you there and discuss your various projects as my schedule allows.

9.  Write at least one comment on other people’s blogs per week.

The class blog will include links to other student blogs along the right column.  You should visit those blogs regularly for ideas.  You are also required to leave at least one comment at another student’s blog during each week of the course.

So that I can easily find and count these comments later, open a new page in your blog entitled “Comments.”  Leave the URLs for all your comments there, number and date them.  I will review those comments at the end of the semester.

10. Present Materials at Celebration at End of Course

During the finals period, we will be sharing what we learned with the members of the Bessemer Historical Society at the CF&I Archives.  You are required to attend and discuss your work there with the community.

Any form of academic dishonesty will result in a failing grade for the entire course. This includes plagiarism, the taking of words and/or ideas of another and passing them off as your own. If another person’s work is quoted directly in a formal paper, this must be indicated with quotation marks and a citation. Paraphrased or borrowed ideas must be identified in the footnotes of the text.


While you must complete all assignments by the end of the semester, you do not have to complete the assignments in any particular order.  You are required to attend all class sessions listed in bold below.  Otherwise, everything else will be done online or at the Bessemer Historical Society on your own time (although the archivists at BHS would VERY much appreciate it if you made appointments).

August 28th: Introduction to Everything (WordPress, Reclaim Hosting, CF&I Archives, etc.)

September 11th: Tech Check

October 16th: Mid-Semester Class Meetup #1!

November 11th: Group Exhibit Topic and Plan must be e-mailed for approval.

November 13th: Mid-Semester Class Meetup #2!

December 11th:  Celebration! [At the Bessemer Historical Society]


1 Response to Syllabus

  1. Pingback: Digital history? Moi? | Doing Digital History

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