Resources and Research Part I

Amy and I  have taken major steps to exploring Stevens County resources and through the University as well as the community, we have ran into many sources! Who knew that there was so much about such a small community? Originally we didn’t even know where to begin but knew that we wanted to make an impact on the people that have been and are currently here.

We have a large variety of archival resources at UMM and even more at the Stevens County Historical Society. There is also more information at the Minnesota Historical Society that I am excited to explore when back in the Twin Cities. Probably most important to our current research, are the primary sources available through the Apostolic community in Stevens County. Amy even called me after she discovered that a Church historian will be visiting Morris to talk about the history of the Apostolic Church. Amy even has a book that he has published!

Along with a meeting with the Church historian, we will also be having more meetings with the Director or Archives at the university and the historians at the Historical society. We have talked about using our connections within our community to contact and form stronger ties with potential resources! I love learning from individuals who have been around Morris and Stevens County for a long time and I am very grateful that Amy and her family have a rich history here. Between the two of us we have connections in the community, the school, the churches, and even in the Twin Cities. We have been reaching out to more and more people while also doing research online through our archives. There is most definitely a lot of information and I am excited to dive deeper in order to better understand and better represent our community!

Keep Calm and Archive On

As we continue to move forward with our project, we (María Peña and I) are honing in on the topic we want to pursue. Up to this point, I have felt as though I was an overly excitable puppy trying to chase too many rabbits at the same time, allowing them all to escape into their burrows. However, after taking a step back, calming down, and refraining from chasing everything that moved, we close this week with far more concrete plans and a more focused vision for our project.

The Comanche play an important role in Texas history. Wichita Falls lies well within the Comancheria, and the present-day headquarters of the Comanche Nation is located in neighboring Lawton, Oklahoma. The impact of these people upon the region, both as they moved in and again when they were pushed out, has left an indelible mark and has shaped what this area is today.

We fully expect there to be plenty of archival information on the Comanche, from multiple sources. However, we believe that this will be fertile ground to cover, as their history and impact on the region has either been overlooked or tied up in the prevailing mythology that surrounds the “old west.”

There are numerous sources of information that we are beginning to explore. Tomorrow morning, we will be meeting with Cortny Bates, the librarian responsible for Special Collections at Midwestern State. Additionally, we have been exploring other archival options, such as the Wichita County Archives, the Wichita County Historical Commission, and the Museum of North Texas History. The Comanche National Museum and Cultural Center should also be an invaluable source of information.

Our topic may require some further refinement, but it is great to no longer feel like my head is spinning from too many great topics. This project is now coming into focus, and it is becoming clear what we need to do. Let’s do this!

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Let’s get down to business: finding resources in our community.

— End of Week Two —

As the end of the second week of our class comes to a close, I would like to take the time to reflect on how things have been going for Brad and I as we get closer to a centralized topic. At first, as most of my classmates may or may not remember, and you as a reader may not be aware of yet, we considered venturing into two different topics and see how we felt about it for the research project. Here in Wichita Falls, we of course have so many groups of people who we could study; opportunities to determine the patterns of migration that have either changed recently or even decades ago. We have the ability to take advantage of our Sheppard’s Air Force Base, the Midwestern State University Community, the Oil Industry, and much much more.

Of course the problem with having so many ideas is that sometimes too many ideas tend to distract us from the main goal, or as Brad mentioned it when we discussed for quite some time after Tuesday’ 3:00 – 4:15CT class period ended, all of these appear as a “shiny object”. Naturally, after hashing out our concerns and sharing what we thought would work best, we left each other with the task of doing a bit of research and coming back together to meet this week and see how things play out.

But all is now well on this side of our small little town!

We have selected a topic and group of “migrants” (since the point of this project is to track and research a groups migration) for this semester! We have agreed to see where the research and resources in Wichita Falls takes us with the Comanche. Here at Midwestern State (the institution we attend) provides a huge amount of resources for us to use such as archives, documents, memorabilia, photographs, special collections, and so much more in the Moffett Library on campus. We have set an appointment successfully with Cortny Bates, the Special Collections / Associate University Librarian this upcoming Friday, September 1st at 10:00pm in the special collections room. This of course is an excellent resource for us to have access to since we know they have so much information available at hand.

We additionally have done some research and reviewed some local Museums that we think may provide additional information about the Comanche as well such as the Wichita County Archives.

Of course we plan on using articles and documents we find, such as a very interesting one Brad shared with me about the Comanche in Texas in general (I will provide a link) that details how the Indian reservations were handled here in Texas.

All in all, I am very excited to get the ball rolling! I look forward to sharing more of our findings in class, and with all on this blog, and see where the research takes us.

Until next time, Maria.

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Where do I begin?

When Joy and I began talking about the direction we wanted to go with our digital history project, the main concern was, “Are we going to be able to find the type of information we need?” and “Where do we begin?”.   Before we decided on focusing on the migration of the Apostolic church, I started sharing the prospective idea with various people in the Church to get their reaction.  Based on their answers and suggestions I realized that:

  1. There is information out there.
  2. There are people local people we can reach out to.
  3. Much of the information is not going to be publicly available.

Joy and I visited our local historical society, the Stevens County Historical Society.   For being such a small town (approximately 5500 people), I was surprised at how well organized the historical society is and how much information they have archived.    After our visit, however, it was evident that, although we will be able to use them as great resource, we will need be creative in our research.

Some general archive resources available include:

I believe some of our greatest information is going to be found within the Church itself.   Interestingly enough, we were just informed this  week that a Church historian will be visiting our town in a couple of weeks to give a talk about the history of the Apostolic Church.   I have already reached out to him in hope of securing a personal interview and the names of other local church “historians”.   Within the Church there are also birth, marriage, and death records and a church-wide publication called the The Silver Lining.  

I have provided a good physical list of resources in which to jump-start our research, but I feel like the question, “Where do we begin?” is a question that goes a little deeper.    I believe we begin with people.  We begin with relationships.   We begin with open minds and open hearts.

For when this research begins, the stories of the those in past and present will become a part of our life stories forever….

The joy of working with librarians

Libraries are rife with contradictions. Imposing, grand, and even somber from the outside, they have a personality full of the solid satisfaction of hard-back books; physical, tangible knowledge; and most importantly, kind librarians.

In attempting to figure out what kinds of knowledge Kirksville’s local resources could offer, I asked the front desk of the library, slightly bemused as a student worker called her professional staff member, who called an expert researcher to my aid. I scheduled a “RAP,” or Research Assistance Program session for the following day, with the librarian. I could see the wheels in her head turning as she brainstormed what seemed like 1,000 potential resources with me.

However, the following day, an unexpected emergency had called her away from work. But another librarian tried to help my research partner, Alex, and me with the same zeal as the first. She raced to research local resources, showing us our school newspaper’s archives, which date back to 1909; the university’s special collections, which include Harry H. Laughlin’s, a Truman alumnae, Eugenics Collection; as well as more general information, such as census data in

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In Which Life Laughs at Our Best Laid Plans

Ready to explore the archival records and other resources concerning migration to Kirksville, I left my house this morning to meet my partner, Maggie, at Pickler Memorial Library for our Research Assistance Program (RAP) session. Eager to speak directly with a librarian who is a specialist in history and sociology who could provide us with some valuable resources, we arrived to find that our session would have to be rescheduled, because this particular had to leave work to deal with an emergency.

C’est la vie.

Luckily, another librarian was there, and she provided us with some good resources to kick off some research. She pointed out local history and genealogy databases on Truman’s library server as well as census records that we could look through to identify patterns of migration in that way. We concluded our impromptu yet informative meeting by deciding to check the Special Collections section of Pickler to see if we could uncover any information there.

Upon arriving at the Special Collections area, I was immediately informed that the head librarian there was off to a webinar and wouldn’t be back until later. I left my name, email, and search query (“Migration to Kirksville throughout history. Any groups at any point in time”), feeling slightly guilty for the vague request but eager to see what they might find.

Another resource we have available at our disposal is Adair County Historical Society, though the hours of operation are working against us a bit. The museum, where I have worked for the past two years as an archival assistant, is only open Wednesdays through Fridays from 1:00-4:00pm. For Maggie and I, our class schedules aren’t exactly compatible with this small window of time, but we are certainly going to stop by at some point soon.

All in all, we have plenty of resources available to us, and I am excited to begin delving into Kirksville’s past. As the archival assistant for the ACHS, I have spent a significant amount of time poring over old newspaper clippings and photos that the society has collected. I can’t wait to put my interests towards the study of migration here and to then share our findings with anyone who desires to learn.

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A Stroll Through the Mountains

Today we ventured to the Western Regional Archives and sat down with an archivist, Heather South, who gave us more information than we were ready to receive. She took us back to early exploration of Western North Carolina, specifically in an area known today as Morganton. There is currently an archaeological site there where they uncovered the Fort San Juan from 1567. She told us about other early explorers and we spoke about the Cherokee population that was forced out of this area and came back. This area of focus interested us slightly and Heather pointed us in the direction of the Museum of the Cherokee and their website as well as the Western Carolina University digital archive on the Craft Trail.

Another group that Heather recommended we take a look were the Scotch Irish clans that came to this area and the Highland Games which have been going on for well over 50 years. An interesting thing about the Games is that one of the original organizers is still alive and participating today so if we decided to work with this group we could talk to someone who was there when the Games began.

Hot Springs, NC is a small town that was built by German ‘enemy aliens’ who were basically prisoners of war, which is something I had no idea about until today. There were internment camps there during WWI which forced thousands of Germans to this small town. Once there they created a village and influenced the architecture of the town. When the war ended most of the Germans were transported to Georgia but many came back with their families and made Hot Springs their home. There is an event there in the second week of September commemorating the centennial of this internment camp and community, which we will definitely be making our best efforts to attend.

At this point, the conversation turned slightly. We asked Heather what brought people to this area. The mountains of North Carolina are beautiful, but there is no land for plantations, and getting here before the railroad was no easy task. So why come? As we talked we realized that tourism has always been a huge draw to this area of the state and so we brainstormed ideas to bring that into this project.

The first idea was the Alexander Inn. There are boxes of visitor logs and their sales records as well as family photo album in the archives that we were able to look through a bit today. Below is a picture of the Inn from the early 1900s. This inn was a stopping point in Swannanoa for those who did journey up the mountain pre-railroad. They could rest there, feed their horses, send mail, and buy goods. The Inn is now a private residence where the family still lives to this day, and a member of the family who was around when it was still functioning is still alive to this day as well and gives tours of the area.


Another idea that we had related to tourism in WNC was to look at the Blue Ridge Parkway. Construction of the Parkway took place during the 1930s and brought new people to the area to cut into the mountain and construct the miles and miles of roads. We were thinking about comparing it then and now, potentially looking at the types of people that visit the Parkway every year and how that has changed since its completion. Looking at the cultural impact of the Parkway would also be fascinating. Heather told us about the Teapot Museum, an idea proposed to bring people off the Parkway and into a small town. Also important about the Parkway is that the land was, in some areas, being used prior to construction. What happened to those people? Where did they go? Resources on the Parkway are plentiful in this neck of the woods and taking a dive into them and looking at the Parkway from a different perspective would be fun.

The last idea that we discussed, also related to tourism, were summer camps. Church camps have been coming to this area for decades. Many churches have archives about the camps and the folks who attended them. An option for a project could be to go through those archives and see if people who came for camp were enticed to come back later in life and park themselves in these mountains.

All in all, we got so many ideas from Heather today. Ideas on where to go to do research and who to talk to, as well as ideas on what groups to focus on and what angles to come at them from. There is so much to consider now and deciding on what to research is going to have to do a lot with guidelines for the project. Will we be allowed to study an area instead of a people?

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Exploring Asheville’s Archives

The assignment for this blog post was to find out what we could about our local archive that may have information about migration or immigration in our locale. Asheville, North Carolina is home to three locations that we needed to look into: University of North Carolina-Asheville’s own Special Collections (housed at our university), the Pack Memorial Library, and the Western Regional Archives of North Carolina. I investigated the first two online while visiting the third. UNC-Asheville’s Special Collections contains a couple of different collections that I found particularly interesting. The Agudas Israel Synagogue Collection pertains to the Jewish Synagogue located in Hendersonville, a town not too far from Asheville. I was not aware of a sizable Jewish population in this area even though I was born and raised here. Special Collections also has two related collections that I would like to explore: the Black Highlanders Collection and the Heritage of Black Highlanders Collection. Both of these collected works concern African Americans in Western North Carolina. Finally, perhaps the most sensitive, is the William Dudley Pelley Collection. Pelley was a pro-Nazi individual who was a member of the Silver Shirts, a pro-Nazi organization that was present in a few states. Pelley also founded the Galahad College in Asheville, a short-lived institution that espoused Pelley’s beliefs. I had no idea that such a thing existed within my city! What is even more surprising to me, Galahad was founded in 1933… the same year that Black Mountain College (BMC) was founded in the neighboring town of Black Mountain. BMC could not have been more different from Galahad. Where the latter supported racist ideology, the former believed in complete equality. Where Galahad was pro-Nazi, BMC took in refugees from Nazi occupied countries. The fact that these two establishments existed so close to each other is very interesting.

I found the Pack Memorial Library’s collection size to be absolutely intimidating. There was over 400 pages on the website containing information on collections! I did find some content that could be used as supplementary information to support collections housed elsewhere. Pack Memorial houses Buncombe County Pamplets, some of which advertise Pelley’s Silver Shirts and his Galahad College. Others information that I located supported a topic that we came across at the Western Regional Archives, and so could be used to support researching concerning this subject, the Blue Ridge Parkway, which I will explain more detail below.

In the end, however, Liz and I visited the Western Regional Archives (WRA for short) and, after speaking with lead archivist Heather South, unearthed multiple subjects that fascinated us. We are particularly drawn to three of them. Heather suggested we look into the German internment camp that was located in Hot Springs, North Carolina. German migrants came into this area prior World War I. After war broke out, these individuals were rounded up and placed into an internment camp located in Hot Springs. Because of this gathering and placing of so many Germans into one area, the town of Hot Springs was created with a strong German influence. This year is the centennial commemoration of WWI and the internment camp, so Hot Springs will be having multiple events happening from September 15-17.  These events include documentaries, guest speakers, panels on relevant topics, exhibits of internment camp and military memorabilia, and tours of homes and locations related to the camp. Heather believes there may be a sizeable collection with which we can create a robust website.

The second topic that we were interested in was the Alexander Family Collection at the WRA. The Alexander Family settled in Swannanoa (another nearby town located in between Black Mountain and Asheville) and opened up an inn among many other things. They were entrepreneurs whose businesses acted as one of the few stopping points for travelers before roads and railroads ran through the area. Anyone coming across nearby mountains would need to stop for a rest and to replenish supplies. Liz and I felt that the Alexander family played a big role in enticing those migrating to or through the area to stop. In addition to the substantial amount of materials at the WRA, Alexander Inn is still standing and inhabited by the Alexander family! This could give us a chance to talk to descendants of these entrepreneurs who helped to alter the local economy and culture. Perhaps they could give us special information that no archive could have, such as personal stories that were passed down generation to generation. This collection also had some really cool guest lists from the inn as well as ledgers from the other Alexander businesses. The guest lists even included where each guest traveled from. So… pretty awesome.

The third and final area that we considered focusing on was perhaps my favorite—the Blue Ridge Parkway. Although the Parkway is an inanimate object, its very presence here has and continues to change the local economy, politics, and culture in so many ways. To begin with, the creation of the Parkway displaced many locals (some of who are still unhappy about having their family’s land taken away…). It brings in thousands of tourists each year (including leaf-lookers in the autumn, cyclists, runners, bikers, and water/land conservationists). It is the filming location of more than a few commercials and movies and serves as a conduit that connects various towns, parks, and points of interest. The Parkway plays an instrumental role in local music, architecture and crafts. Basically, it is a place where all migrants—regardless of whether they remain or just pass through, of whether they are new to the area or their families settled here long ago—can gather regardless of ethnicity, interests, culture, background, or beliefs. This one particular road has completely altered how migration takes place in Western North Carolina and it is for this reason that we hope to focus on the Blue Ridge Parkway for the website we will be creating. Also, full disclosure, we have already begun looking at other histories of the Parkway. For the most part, they all focus on the Parkway itself and not on the people that the Parkway brings to the area.

So. This blog post was a little longer than the required length. In my defense it was a really exciting day! I love the feeling that I get once the initial overwhelming sensation of a new project has worn off and I begin to find a sense of direction. I am utterly enthusiastic about the rest of the semester and confident that Liz and I will turn out a great project.

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Local Archives

“North Adams Historical Society Logo.” Museum of History and Science. Accessed August 29, 2017.

The Freel Library, located on the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts main campus, houses special collections which offer a range of ledgers and logs of day to day business dealings of the North Adams’ economy from the mid eighteen hundreds through the early to mid nineteen hundreds.It does not seem like they have a lot to offer in the way of personal information about the cities population however.  Once we are actually able to sift and search through the records in person we may find something fruitful though.   The North Adams Public library seems to have many good sources that we can use to narrow down our topic on interest.  So far it seems to be likely that we will focus our attention on the inhabitants of North Adams during the civil war and the turn of the century. The Census Bureau also has very helpful records depicting the ethnicity’s of those who called Berkshire County home from 1790 until today. This might prove to be very helpful in determining which migration group we will dive deeper into looking at.

North Adams does have a Historical Society, which one of our very one professors in connected with so we will use not only the society but him as well for information.  The Historical Society founded a museum in the late nineteen eighties which displays many exhibits on the how the industrial revolution played such a huge role in the success of North Adams and how it continues to shape everyday life.  They do not seem to have many resources or archives online but once again going through their tangible collection will certainly aid in our research.  The museum is open Thursday through Sunday in the afternoons through October so it is a perfect place to start.  Online archives will most likely also provide a large amount of information for us to gather.


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Local Resources

My task for this week is finding out what local archives exist.

I discovered that my college library is home to an archive of information about the college’s history, and it is also home to The Hoosac Valley Collection for Local History. I believe that the Hoosac Valley collection will be the most useful.

I also made the delightful discovery that I know the archives supervisor, Linda. I worked at the library last year so I feel quite comfortable speaking with her. This also made me remember that I have done some archival work at my job for the library. It was mostly some sorting, organizing, and relabeling, but any experience is helpful.

Some quick internet browsing led me to discover that there are several other local history archives located in the North Adams public library, which should be easy enough to access.

One collection in particular caught my eye as it pertains to the Hoosac Tunnel. The Hoosac Tunnel was a (for that time) prodigious construction project involving many explosions and deaths that eventually led to the tunnel’s completion and use as a major rail line through the Berkshires. This tunnel and the creation of it, featured prominently in the economy and local history of the area from around 1800 and onward, which is why I feel that this archive may be helpful.

I also found that the library keeps a lot of genealogy information on site, which may be helpful if we need or want to research individuals.

As I opened my archives search up to the state level, I found this interesting site that has links for several archives in each state and descriptive details about the type of information one can expect to find there.

I found the state level archives. Their website is very basic and just plain weird looking! I tried searching for North Adams specifically, but only found some area maps. I did find that they have a collection of ship passenger manifests that may be useful. Overall I don’t think I’ll be able to use this archive very much because it’s in Boston, which is about two hours from my college.

My archive search has been fairly successful, and now I’m better aware of the historical resources in the area.



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