Wyoming Homesteading, Ranching, and Farming
This project was undertaken for the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office as a Historic Context Study to guide the evaluation of resources in the field associated with homesteading, ranching, and farming for their eligibility to the National Register of Historic Places. In fact, however, the project generated several products including a major study of the subject, a guide for evaluators, a discussion of management issues and opportunities, and a small book or booklet summarizing the research findings. Plus, one of the results was the preparation of a website that includes links to all the component parts. The website was prepared by Rebecca Cassity and Russ Anderson and I am grateful for their expertise and work in putting it together. The link below takes you to that website.
Wyoming Will Be Your New Home: Ranching, Farming, and Homesteading in Wyoming, 1860-1960
A major result of that work was the publication of the historic context study as a separate book, Wyoming Will Be Your New Home: Ranching, Farming, and Homesteading in Wyoming, 1860-1960, by the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office. This book examines the transformation of Wyoming agriculture, and related rural social fabric, from its origins as a subsistence, relatively self-sufficient, organization of land use and production, and the land laws that encouraged that way of life, through the competition for the public domain, the mechanization of agriculture, and the ascendancy of market-oriented ranching and farming. It also examines issues of ethnicity, gender, and modernization. Of course, the varieties of land use, including cattle ranching, sheep herding, farming, and the general operations and their variations and economies, are also examined. This is not always a triumphal story, and the years following 1935 document an exodus from the countryside and the decline of small, family farm operations.
The book is available for free viewing and download by clicking on the following link:
Booklet: Lives Worth Living: History Worth Preserving
In addition to the book, the Wyoming SHPO published a condensed version as a booklet to be widely circulated. This booklet, Lives Worth Living, History Worth Preserving: A Brief History of Wyoming Homesteading, Ranching, and Farming, 1860-1960, covers the same territory as Wyoming Will Be Your New Home and also discusses some of the broad preservation issues and opportunities regarding Wyoming's historic resources related to homesteading, ranching, and farming. A copy of the booklet can be downloaded at the following link:
National Register of Historic Places:
Multiple Property Document Form
At the core of this project was the development of a Multiple Property Document (Form) for the National Register of Historic Places. This contains both the historic context study (with some modifications published separately as Wyoming Will Be Your New Home) and the requirements for registering future properties in the state that bear an important association with Wyoming's homesteading, ranching, and farming history. This is not the easiest form to use (and thus interested readers may want to consult the published versions at the links on this page), but it is the form used and approved by the National Register of Historic Places. It can be downloaded at the following link:
Wyoming Homesteading, Ranching, Farming Historic Resources, Management Issues and Opportunities
Some individuals and agencies carry the responsibility for managing historic resources related to homesteading, farming, and ranching and they will use the Evaluation Guide and the Multiple Property Document Form on a daily basis as they approach specific properties that may (or may not) be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. In addition, however, there are larger considerations that they must also keep in mind both to continue to develop an understanding of the resources (history, after all, does not stop and our understanding is never complete or final; issues are never really "settled"). Plus, sometimes there are perplexing questions about how most appropriately and responsibly to manage the resources that have been determined to be eligible. This small booklet provides guidance for continuing the discussion and for understanding the threats to the resources. Click on the following link to download a copy:
Evaluation Guide for Wyoming's Ranching, Farming, and Homesteading Historic Resources
The range of historic resources associated with homesteading, ranching, and farming in Wyoming is wide indeed. To evaluate each of them properly (whether individually or collectively as contributing features in a historic district) requires not just placing them into their historic context but also considering the particular aspects of their function and association that give them significance and also the requirements for integrity. How to apply the criteria (A,B,C,D) also needs to be spelled out. This is not just to guide researchers to consider elements beyond their familiarity, but to help assure that evaluations of similar properties in different parts of the state by different researchers will be generally consistent. The Evaluation Guide attempts to achieve this and is thus an essential element for field work, although an element that must be used alongside the historic context. It is not possible, nor does this Evaluation Guide suggest, to evaluate properties on the basis of their physical appearance alone. Research in the historical documents is critical and indispensable. Download the Evaluation Guide at the following link:
Wyoming Homesteading, Ranching, and Farming Historic Context Website
Be sure to check the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office web page on Homesteading, Ranching, and Farming. You can find links to these same documents but also more, including a bibliography, maps, a timeline, and other links. The page (and its many links) on the website was prepared by Rebecca Cassity and Russ Anderson and I am grateful for their expertise and work in putting it together. The link below takes you to that website.