Liz and I visited the Western Regional Archives (WRA) on Thursday for our first real session at the archives. There are a couple different collections that we are interested in, but we spent Thursday going through the Blue Ridge Parkway photograph collection. This collection consists of somewhere around 15 boxes or so of images of the construction of the Parkway. We saw more rocks, dirt, and felled trees that we could ever want to see. Some pictures were literal just dirt… no indication of what was going on or where the images was taken. We also found plenty of pictures of random objects placed on the gravel-covered ground. This was for a size comparison, I’m sure, but it was bizarre how many size comparisons the photographer felt was necessary. Liz and I now have a great idea about the size of the gravel in comparison to coins and pens. While it wasn’t quite what we anticipated, we still found some materials that we believe we can use! Liz will be creating a section on the website that discusses the construction of the Parkway, and I will also briefly visit the topic while researching locals who helped with construction. We found plenty of images of men working on the BRP that will fit in nicely as illustrations of our narrative. We also found some nice scenic shots to use as background images and on the home page. Heather South at the WRA also gave us a couple of really useful secondary sources to look at. We are happy with the progress that we made, but needless to say we will be going back soon.
I did make some personal progress on the website. I finally completed my timeline, footnotes and all! I may go back and tweak the description on the individual newspaper articles, but for the most part it is finished, although it’s a week later than our personal schedule of milestones indicated. It was a relief to complete the timeline, especially since I continued to experience difficulties right up until the very end with getting images to load. Other progress that we have made on the website is actually a regression in some of the ideas that we had. We initially had all these wonderful pages laid out but have since realized that we may not find enough information on each individual subjects to warrant a separate page for each, so we will most likely end up combining some pages. This wasn’t completely unexpected—we even indicated in our contract that our “subtopics” may change depending on the sources available. While slightly disappointing, this is both a setback and a blessing. We would have really loved to develop this website to its fullest extent, but given the time that we have to complete everything and the possible lack of resources on some topics, we simply will not be able to create all the pages we wanted. However, this is probably best for us since it takes a lot of pressure off our shoulders to find enough sources to support every single topic to the extent that a full page can be created for it. We will also be able to give more attention to the pages we do have, meaning we can make sure these pages are top notch. We aren’t sure exactly how this will play out quite yet, but we are prepared for the possibility of topic changes/combinations.
I plan to spend the next couple of days looking through all the documents that Jack Holt (curator for the Blue Ridge Parkway) gave Liz. I have already uncovered an interesting report on African Americans and their interaction with the Parkway, including how their use of the Parkway was shaped by segregation laws. Liz and I have also set up a time to meet with Jackie on Tuesday to possibly view some other primary sources that are of interest to us. We may or may not be in class on Tuesday, but regardless we will be spending this time focusing on the website!