Three Questions with Tyler Thompson
Three Questions is an initiative to share the value that our faculty, students, and others in the UNT community derive from using the Unique Collections at UNT Libraries.
How important are Unique Collections in your teaching, learning or research?
The UNT Portal to Texas History has been a crucial aspect of research throughout my academic career. I am incredibly grateful for its wealth of resources including historical newspapers, almanacs, and photographs. The website is simple to navigate and easily accessible for researchers. As an undergraduate student, I utilized the Portal for my senior seminar paper on Native American representations in Texas, and subsequently used this paper as a writing sample for graduate school applications. In graduate school, I turned to the UNT Portal again for a research seminar, and I was lucky enough to have that essay published as a peer-reviewed journal article in the Journal of South Texas. I am currently using the UNT Portal to strengthen my dissertation, “Representations of American Indians in Texas Memory and Mythology, 1875-1936.” The Portal resources have helped develop my primary source base and have contributed to my analysis of how Texans collectively memorialized and represented Native Americans as a justification for conquest throughout the Texas Panhandle.
As a teaching assistant, I assisted in a class project in which the students in a Texas History course drew from the UNT Portal to research and write an essay on an aspect of local Texas History that they found interesting. Many students chose their hometowns, and wrote on diverse topics such as baseball, railroads, Klan violence, bank robberies, and natural disasters. It was enlightening to read their eclectic responses. I witnessed the students develop analytical skills as researchers and gain a deeper understanding of the past through the assignment. I plan to implement a similar strategy in my own classroom as an educator.
How have Unique Collections changed the way you approach your research, teaching or learning?
The UNT Portal has strengthened my primary source base for my dissertation research. The helpful search filters and the substantial amount of material have reinforced my argument as well. The Portal has become a starting place for me when I broach a new angle in my writing and research. One of the first things I now consider is how Texas newspapers represented and discussed specific topics.
I am excited to continue using the Portal for teaching purposes. The digital format is a perfect tool for twenty-first century classrooms, and is very user-friendly for students. I think the Portal material is suitable for independent essay assignments as well as collaborative group projects in which students work together to build a presentation for the class. The Portal encourages creativity, teamwork, and builds useful skills that students will use beyond their course in history, politics, et cetera.
What do you want others to know about your research?
Representations and memories of Native people continued long after their violent removal from Texas. I have found that these representations often centered on representing the indigenous population in ways that justified the conquest of the region. Significantly, these representations changed over time, and Anglo Texans used sites of memory to perpetuate a narrative that placed their actions in a favorable light. I think it is also important to highlight the fact that Native people responded in creative ways to these representations. For instance, I found several newspaper articles in the Portal that referred Kiowa men making speeches after a 1916 Wild West Show. They used this platform to influence Anglo Texans, and participate in the ways individuals collectively remembered historical events.
Tyler Thompson is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at Texas A&M University. He received his bachelors and masters in history from UT-San Antonio. Tyler’s dissertation examines how racial and gendered rhetoric underscored conquest across Texas which was justified in subsequent myths and memories of the history of the state. He was born in Austin, Texas and plans to teach and research for a university when he graduates.