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If History Teachers Had a Time Machine

Fall 2018
Read Time: 4 minutes

Jay BuckleyA man wearing a leather-fringe jacket from the Rocky Mountain fur trade era

Associate Professor of History
Director of the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies
Teaches courses in American West and American Indian history and directs the American Indian studies minor at BYU

If I had a time machine to take me back in time to participate in a historical event, it would be hard to narrow it down! An event I would have liked to have attended was a Rocky Mountain fur trade rendezvous. The 1825 rendezvous occurred just a few miles from my family’s ranch near Lonetree, Wyoming. The 1826 rendezvous culminated in William Ashley selling his company to Jedediah Smith, David Jackson, and William Sublette, with Robert Campbell as clerk. Ashley’s journal that he kept en route to this rendezvous was discovered about 10 years ago, and Andy Hahn at the Campbell House Museum asked me to transcribe, interpret, and publish it. It is the first recorded account of east-to-west travel along what became the Oregon-California Trail. It is pretty cool to uncover and unravel the mysteries of history.

A woman wearing a red flapper outfit.Wendi Nelson

Teacher and alum, ’09
Spanish Fork High School, Spanish Fork, Utah
Teaches U.S. history, AP U.S. history/history 1700, U.S. government and citizenship

If I could be part of any period in history, I would choose the 1920s. The ’20s were a time of monumental change. New inventions like the automobile and the radio connected people and dramatically increased possibilities for Americans. The end of the Great War and a booming economy would have made for a happy home life. The ratification of the 19th Amendment, fashion that pushed boundaries, and activities that challenged social norms paved the way for a century of progress toward equal rights for women. The 1920s would have been an exciting time to be alive.

Jeffery D. NokesA man wearing a green jacket and brown hat.

Associate Professor
History Department
Research interests are history pedagogy, historical literacies, history teacher preparation, democratic education

I feel pretty lucky to live in the time and place that I do. But if I were to choose a different era to live in, I would probably choose the early period of westward expansion in what is now the southwestern United States, when the Santa Fe Trail was first being blazed. It seems like a time period and place that was full of opportunities, with trade between the United States, Mexico, and Indian nations gaining momentum. The ongoing exchange across the borders would be appealing to me—with language, food, people, and cultures moving back and forth in interesting ways. I could see myself and my family living in one of the villages along the trail, trading with the caravans that passed. Or it might have been fun to be one of the traders passing through the villages. I am thankful to live in Utah today when we still get to experience echoes of the exchanges of that era.


Photography by Bradley Slade