Teacher's Guide: History

  1. Information about the changing West can be found at the Web site of the PBS series "The West."

  2. Letters should be no more than 250 words long. You might introduce this activity by discussing with students the distinction between explaining an action and justifying it. In this case, someone could argue that the anti-Mormon violence helps explain the Mountain Meadows Massacre but in no way justifies it.


  1. You might also ask students to find out when the First Great Awakening occurred and to compare it with the Second Great Awakening.

  2. If students are uncertain what sorts of personal qualities to consider, you might suggest possibilities such as courage, conviction, flexibility, kindness, and intelligence.


  1. Students should write their footnotes on the assumption that readers know little or nothing about Mormonism. That is, the footnotes should include basic information about the Mormons and about any events related to Mormonism the footnotes discuss.

  2. For smaller classes, you may want to assign fewer than nine students to act as justices, though you should select an odd number to avoid ties. Students may want to review the 1890 manifesto by church president Wilford Woodruff in which he ended the church's support for polygamy, as well as the 1878 Supreme Court case Reynolds v. United States, for relevant information.


  1. Sources of relevant information include this collection of general information about life on the Mormon Trail, this description of the migration based on first-hand accounts, and this collection of diaries and letters by migrants.

  2. In helping students compare the Mormon migration to other migrations, you might ask them to consider the reasons why someone would leave one place for another, and why a religious, ethnic, or other group of people might have different reasons for migrating than individuals would.