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Marking 100 years of Grand Canyon National Park history

Ahead of Grand Canyon park's 100th anniversary, explore photos from its past.
July 31, 2018

ASU Library partners with park, NAU to make thousands of archival photos, historical documents available to public

For the first time ever, thousands of high-quality archival materials — photographs, documents and correspondence — chronicling the early history of Grand Canyon National Park (1890–1940) have been made digitally available to the public through a partnership between Arizona State University Library, Northern Arizona University's Cline Library, and Grand Canyon National Park.

Coined "100 Years of Grand," the project commemorates the upcoming centennial of the legislative creation of Grand Canyon National Park in February 1919, and aims to enhance public understanding of the park’s history by weaving together several decades of cultural, geospatial, entrepreneurial, documentary and administrative archival history.

ASU Now sat down with University Archivist Rob Spindler, the project’s director, and ASU librarian Ed Oetting, the senior archival researcher, to discuss the project and the centennial’s significance.

Question: How can the public gain access to these materials, and what can they hope to find?

Spindler: Photographs, ephemera, maps, correspondence and original manuscripts comprise the majority of the digital materials that are now available through three online repositories belonging to Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and Grand Canyon National Park. Together, they weave a unique tapestry of primary resources of unparalleled depth documenting the seminal early years of the development of Grand Canyon National Park, specifically from 1890–1940. The public can gain access to the repositories through various ways, but the easiest would be through

Q: How do these archival materials help illuminate the history of Grand Canyon National Park?

Oetting: Through these materials, letters and documents, we learn critical information about the establishment of one of America’s premier national parks, including the balancing of public and commercial uses of public lands and the complex interplay between the federal government, the state of Arizona, and the interests of numerous localities and businesses. The ongoing and persistent irony of the American West is that for all its independence and frontier resilience and perseverance, it is the region of the country most dependent on the federal government and its representatives in U.S. Congress. This was particularly true for the newly minted state of Arizona in the first quarter of the 20th century.

Q: How will this project benefit park visitors and the general public?

Spindler: Materials made accessible through this project will be of benefit to visitors to the park who may want to enhance their experience and historical understanding of the Grand Canyon. Students, teachers and historians at all educational levels will be able to acquire and reuse these materials for class lectures, assignments and related writings and research. Arizona businesses that rely on Grand Canyon tourism will also be able to use these materials in the development of their advertisement and marketing efforts. Many of the materials in the digital repositories have rarely been seen since they were created. These amazing artifacts tell a bigger story about Grand Canyon National Park. 

Top photo: A mule and rider cross the Kaibab Suspension Bridge in 1930. This image, from the Henry G. Peabody Photographs, is one of thousands now available online to the public through the project. Photo courtesy of University Archives

Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist , ASU Library

NSF Graduate Research Fellow engineering solutions to big data challenges

July 31, 2018

For the past six years, first as an undergraduate and now as a doctoral student, Logan Mathesen has used industrial engineering to find solutions to big data problems. His hard work and dedication are paying off, as Mathesen was recently selected as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow.

Mathesen arrived at Arizona State University with the intention of earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial engineering through ASU’s 4+1 program. However, his strong work ethic and genuine interest in the field prompted his professors to encourage him to apply for the doctoral program directly from the undergraduate program. Headshot of Logan Mathesen Logan Matheson was selected as a recipient of the 2018 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. The program supports outstanding students considered to be potential leaders in science, technology, engineering and math. These students are contributing to the high-impact research, teaching and innovation needed to maintain the nation’s technological strength, security and economic vitality. Download Full Image

“I actually had no clue what industrial engineering was until about five years ago,” Mathesen said. “But the more you learn about industrial engineering, engineering processes and flow factories or service systems, the more you start to see it everywhere in the world.”

His interest in the field could not have come at a more opportune time. In the age of big data when information is being captured at nearly every turn — from online shopping behaviors to the data collected from robots on a factory floor — Mathesen is working to build the algorithms, data analysis and modeling techniques that will help manage these large data sets and aid in decision-making. 

“I want to influence how the next generation interacts with data and information,” the Tucson native said.

As a participant in the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, Mathesen is one step closer to fulfilling that dream. Graduate Research Fellowship Program scholars earn an annual stipend and a cost-of-education allowance to support their graduate education. Mathesen is one of 2,000 students accepted out of 12,000 applicants nationwide, and one of just three industrial engineers selected during this year’s award cycle.

Mathesen believes his past research contributed to why he was chosen for the NSF fellowship program. While a student in ASU's Barrett, The Honors College, he designed pivoting regression analysis techniques to help quantify and understand the relationships of various city and social systems in dense urban areas.

During the first year of his doctoral program, he developed algorithms for black-box stochastic optimization and descriptive statistical modeling techniques over irregular response surfaces to support real-time decision making when exhaustive decision analysis is not feasible.

“It’s cool to have a formal language for understanding and modeling what happens in our random world, and then being able to take that model and enable smart, data-driven, objective decision-making,” Mathesen said of his research.

While acknowledging his research was a deciding factor in attaining the fellowship, Mathesen also noted, “NSF does an amazing job of taking a holistic view of GRFP applicants.”

Matheson grew up in a home where neither of his parents had college degrees, but they worked tirelessly to support him and his brothers in all their pursuits. He said being recognized by his professional peers through the fellowship validates not only the hard work he has put forth academically, but also the support his family has provided over the years.  

The young data scientist is growing in his current leadership role as president of ASU’s INFORMS student chapter, his new status as an NSF scholar and, in general, as a representative of ASU and the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

“I chose ASU because I knew that I had a support network here. I knew that I enjoyed the people and that there are people who genuinely care about my well-being both as a student and a person,” Mathesen said.

“Plus”, he added, “I feel that ASU’s engineering program has some of the best young faculty in the country, and there is really a sense of community.”

More about the 2018 NSF Graduate Fellow from the Fulton Schools of Engineering:

Brendon Colbert combats cancer with math

Lexi Bounds aims to improve lives with synthetic biology

Alisha Menon sets her mind to research brain-inspired computing

Scott Freitas wants to use computer science to solve society's toughest problems

Lanelle Strawder

Assistant director for marketing and communications, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering