Section One is a discussion of Erwin E. Smith, Cowboy Photographer. Because of painter Charles M. Russell’s influence on Smith’s photographic vision, a brief section on Russell’s work correlates his paintings to Smith’s photographs. “Compare and contrast” questions and activities follow.

Section Two on Cowboy Life contains explanations and diagrams of the gear, clothing, and seasonal work of the cowboy. The information is divided into five subsections, including Cowhand Clothing, Animals and Gear, The Day’s Work, Seasonal Work, and Cowhand Relaxes. Corresponding lesson plans relate to the sections.

Section Three on the History of the West features a timeline to place Erwin Smith’s photographs of cowboy life into historical context. Also included is a discussion of the myth versus the reality of life in the West.

Section Four Teaching Resources offers:

  • lesson plans;
  • Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) correlations to social studies;
  • printable diagrams of a saddle, chuck wagon, and cowboy riding his horse;
  • activity pages for students;
  • glossary of terms found in the guide;
  • bibliography of related books.

Encourage your students to look closely and study the images in this guide. Both Smith’s intentions and the student viewers’ interpretations are important. A discussion of the students’ insights can lead to exciting revelations for the whole class.

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