Whaleback Boats on the Great Lakes
by Greta Bahnemann, Metadata Librarian, Minnesota Digital Library, Minitex
Think Like a Historian
Observe a Primary Source Item and Record Your Thoughts
- What is happening in the photograph or letter, diary, etc.? What just happened, or what is about to happen?
- Describe the people you see in the image. How do they relate to each other and to the photographer? If there are no people in the image, what is the subject of the photograph?
- Look for details that show when the photo was taken – time of day, season, and year. Do the people in the photograph look different than people today? How are their clothing, shoes, and hair styles different? Also look for differences in things like transportation, housing, equipment, and general infrastructure.
Think about the Creator, Audience, Context, Relationships
- What is the author/creator's point of view? What was the author's purpose?
- Who is the intended audience for this primary source material?
- Explain how the source tells its story.
- What was happening locally, regionally, or nationally when this primary source material was created?
- How does this item relate to other content in this Primary Source Set and/or the rest of the Minnesota Digital Library collection? Compare and contrast two resources.
Finally, using the clues you have observed, try to figure out why the source was created. By asking these questions, you have begun to understand the what, who, where, when and why of the primary source material – and ultimately, the story it tells.
Discussion Questions & Activities
- How difficult would it be to develop an entirely new kind of boat? What would be the steps invovled in developing this new boat? What considerations would you need to make in the boat's design? What might prompt you to design an entirely new type of boat?
- Can you think of other examples of inventions that came and went very quickly? (Hint: zeppelins filled with hydrogen gas and others). What factors determine the success of a new invention?
- Do you think different kinds of freight (iron ore, lumber, grain, etc.) change or impact the design of lake freight haulers?
- Do changes in the demand for goods and products necessitate changes in transportation?
- What are some other examples of animal forms and animal functionality used in modern design?
- Design a boat and plan for where the boat will be used, what it will be hauling, and whether it can also transport passengers. What are the advantages of your boat? What can your boat do that others can't?
eLibrary Minnesota Resources (for Minnesota residents)
1. "Great Lakes." Britannica Academic, Encyclopædia Britannica, 22 Dec. 2008. Accessed 12 July 2017.
2. Jackson, Matt. "Dangerous Waters." Beaver, vol. 84, no. 3, Jun/Jul2004, pp. 36-39. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, Accessed 12 July 2017.
3. "Superior." Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 2 Sep. 2011. school.eb.com.proxy.elm4you.org/levels/high/article/Superior/70395. Accessed 17 Jul. 2017.
Additional Resources for Research
1. Mixter, Ric. "McDougall's Dream." Michicagn History Magazine, volume 97, no. 3, May/June 2013. http://www.hsmichigan.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/McDougall. Access 12 July 2017.
2. Oakley, Janet. History Link.org "Whaleback Freighter Charles W. Wetmore arrives in Everett on December 21, 1891." http://www.historylink.org/File/7362. Accessed 7 July 2017.
3. Wilson, Thomas. Minnesota Historical Society. "Lake Superior Shipwrecks: Whaleback Freighters." http://www.mnhs.org/places/nationalregister/shipwrecks/wilson/wilwf.php. Accessed 7 July 2017.