Scholarship Program and Essay Contest

The Sweetwater County Museum Foundation, the Museum's not-for-profit partner, is sponsoring a Scholarship Program and Essay contest for 2021. The scholarship program is open to Sweetwater County high school seniors attending a college program in the summer or fall of 2021. The essay contest is open to any Sweetwater County student in 10th and 11th grade, and will have a $100 prize for the winner of each grade. BY PARTICIPATING IN THIS CONTEST YOU GIVE THE MUSEUM THE RIGHT TO PUBLISH ANY SUBMITTED ESSAY.Check below for more information.



The Sweetwater County Historical Museum Foundation is sponsoring a scholarship program for Sweetwater County high school seniors who will be attending a college program in the summer or fall of 2021. The winning essay will be published in the local newspaper and will earn a $1,000 scholarship. The essay must be no more than 3,000 words and fit the prompt: "How a local historical event or person impacts my life." BY PARTICIPATING IN THIS CONTEST YOU GIVE THE MUSEUM THE RIGHT TO PUBLISH ANY SUBMITTED ESSAY. Submissions must be sent or postmarked by June 1, 2021. See the specific rules in the document below:

Sweetwater County Historical Museum Foundation Scholarship Program

 Scholarship Rubric

Congratulations to our 2020 winner Celeste Keelin for her essay "The History in Me." She attended Rock Springs Hich School and will be attending the University of Wyoming majoring in Physiology/Pre-Med.



The Sweetwater County Historical Museum Foundation is sponsoring an essay contest for Sweetwater County students in 10th or 11th grade. Each grade will have its own winner. The winning essay will be published in the local news and will earn $100. The essay must be no more than 1,500 words and fit the prompt: "A local historical event that inspires me." BY PARTICIPATING IN THIS CONTEST YOU GIVE THE MUSEUM THE RIGHT TO PUBLISH ANY SUBMITTED ESSAY. Submissions must be sent or postmarked by June 1, 2021. See the specific rules in the document below:

Sweetwater County Historical Museum Foundation Essay Contest

Essay Contest Rubric

 Congraulations to Ethan Bundy our 2020 6th Grade Contest Winner for his essay "A Historical Event that Inspires Me: John Wesley Powell". Ethan Bundy attends Lincoln Middle School


Congratulations to our 2020 7th Grade Winner Allona Brown for her essay "Pioneering Equality for Women" she attends Lincoln Middle School.


Congralutions to our 11th Grade 2020 Winner Jessica Lee Petri for her essay "Cowboy's Cultural Change". She attends Green River High School


Where do I start?

Your first task is to find a topic that relates to the prompt. A good place to start is a period of history, or person, that interests you. Since the prompt relates to local history and YOU, your interest is the important part. Then develop a "thesis", the argument that answers the prompt. 

For example:

Topic: Woman's suffrage

Thesis: Wyoming Territory was the first to allow women to vote, which was the first step in allowing me to pursue my dream of being president.


 Where can I go to do research, I can't visit a museum?

That is not a huge concern, as you can email or call the Sweetwater County Museum if you know what kind of research help you need. But here are some other digital resources to start with:

The "research" tab on this site.-We have indexes for several different formats of our collection, so this can be a good place to start, call us or email us with specific questions.

The Library of Congress-The LIbrary of Congress has many pictures and other digital resources.

The American Heritage Center Digital Collection-Many diaries and other primary sources can be found in this collection.

The National Archives-The National Archives houses many different pictures, documents, and other resources

Wyomingnewspapers-Looking for local newspapers from before 1920? This collection goes back to the mid 1800s!

WyoWyohistory.org-This site is a great place for secondary resources. There are many topics on a variety of sources

Wyoming State Archives-This site contains a variety of resources on many topics

Many other sites listed on the National History Day website

Ask your teacher or contact the museum staff if you have any questions or concerns. 

What the heck are primary and secondary sources?


A primary source is a piece of information about a historical event or timeframe where the creator of the source was involved. These sources capture the words, thoughts, or intentions of the past. Primary sources can help tell us interpret what "really" happened. Examples include: documents (such as diaries), artifacts, historic sites, pctures, songs, or other written and tangible items during the period you are interested in.

Examples of primary sources include: documents, artifacts, historic sites, songs, or other written and tangible items created during the historical period you are studying. For instance a picture of people of students in a band concert in the 1950s would help illustrate the outfits and experiences of students in that era, and shows people actually living during the time. A diary of someone on the Oregon trail would also tell the story from the experience of a person actually living it. 

Some examples of places to find primary sources online are the The National Archives, Wyoming Newspapers, and The American Heritage Center. Museums and archives often have pictures, artifacts, and documents from historic eras for sources you can visit in person.


Secondary sources are sources that were not created by a person during the era you are researching. These are usually done by historians, but based on research of primary sources. These are usually made many years, often decades or centuries, after the event occurred, by people who were not there. The purpose of using these sources is to help you analyze your research from different perspectives and give a historic context to your research. An example might be an article on Wyohistory.org such as "The Diamond Hoax-the Bonanza that Never Was." This source discusses a historical event, but was written by a historian, Dick Blust Jr., who did not live in that era. Blust's article does include sources such as pictures which cound be considered primary sources. This article may be a great place to start research, but tells us what Blust interprets, not the direct experience of the people who lived it.

What does it mean to "cite a source?"

Citing a source is telling people where you found a piece of information. Kind of like telling someone who drew a painting instead of putting your name on the art. It adds a level of authority to your writing, by showing where you got the information and by showing you are respecting someone else's work. NOT properly citing work is a form of plagarism, taking credit for something you didn't do! In general if you are quoting more than a few words you should cite the source. Likewise anytime you saw a fact, such as "Boars Tusk rises 400 feet off the ground and has an elevation of 7100 feet." One easy way to ensure you are citing your source is to make sure to say where it came from such as "According the Bureau of Land Management's website, Boars Tusk rises 400 feet off the ground". For your essays we are asking that you use footnotes, and the Chicago Style of citations. There are many guides online to help you understand how this looks and what it means. You can also check out how some of your sources cite things if you are looking for some examples. (This is also a good place to look for more sources)

An example of a Chicago citation would be:


Blust, Dick. “The Diamond Hoax: a Bonanza That Never Was.” WyoHistory.org. Wyohistory.org. Accessed April 14, 2020. https://www.wyohistory.org/encyclopedia/diamond-hoax-bonanza-never-was.

For this citation it looks like this:

Last name, First name. "Article title." Website title. Website Sponsor/Publisher. Accessed date of access. URL

The important part is to remain consistent, so that someone can easily understand your sources.


Some common mistakes to avoid:

  • Sweetwater is one word
  • Refer to a person you don't know by their last name: for example: "John Smith wrote an article on Wyoming ranch communites. Smith said that there were more sheep than cattle."
  • Make sure to cite images and any other information you find! Put footnotes when you are using that information.
  • Their, they're, and their mean different things.
  • Try to remember that the "past is a foreign country", remember that things have changed. For example, things that we would now find offensive may have been common in the era you are researching.
  • Avoid using Wikipedia and encyclopedias as sources when possible. If you do get as close to the sources as you can, check which sources seem reliable. Websites from museums and goverment agencies are good places to start. Look for websites that end with things like .edu or.gov as well!