This past weekend attended the Alpha Chi National Convention in Chicago. Naturally I was very excited to attend and present Joseph and I’s research. During the conference I had the impossible task of limiting our twenty minute presentation down to ten minutes. However, I prevailed and managed to successfully limit our research. After my panel finished my fellow Alpha Chi went and explored the town before panel awards were announced. Cristina and I explored the Bean, Navy Pier, and ate one of the best deep dish pizza’s in the world! Shortly after exploring the city, my group then went the regional panel awards. In the meeting, I was honored to receive the award from my panel. From there I was entered into the National Award selection. The final award ceremony announced the winners, where I was pleased to discover that another member of Alpha Chi from our university, Krysta, won the award. The networking opportunity was incredible and I was asked extensively about COPLAC. Unfortunately this conference was over about five days and put me behind on the website. This upcoming week will be busy because I will be playing catch up. This the final month is approaching and I am getting excited!
This past couple of weeks as been really crazy. With getting enough research for an academic paper and working my RA job here on campus, I have been working non-stop. Nonetheless I am progressing which is all I can ask for! Here is my comments on two of the articles that I read.
The first article I read was “Strike While the Iron’s Hot” by T. Kurt Knoerl. This article discussed some field work and experience in blacksmith work. Knoerl was discussing the difference between thinking about the process of blacksmith work and actually attempting to try this laborious work. The author found a way to put his questions into actions and attempting to remodel a hammer (a task that would be a common tasks among British smith in the 18th century). The author reveals that he was not expecting the amount of strength required to preform this task. The experience, Knoerl claimed, enhanced his understanding of the trade.
I truly enjoyed this article because the writing was based on personal experience. There are many experiences that we as historians can not participate in, so to take the initiative and do hands on work was great. The writing was readable and informative. I like more personable articles and naturally was drawn in by the style.
The next article I read was “The Tightrope Called Academia: Women and Work-life Balance” by Maria Bucar. This article was all about the need for supervisors to consider the women in the workplace who have kids or might to start a family. The author wanted her readers to understand the hard working life women face when having children and perusing academics. The author then proceeded to list a number of ideas for tenure professors to consider when handling mothers in the workplace.
I did not like this article mainly because of the content. I understand chaotic home life of mothers but the article is very one side and potentially biased. I personally took offense to the article because of the idea of getting special treatment because of my potential to start a family while perusing a career. I also had doubts about certain concepts the author was suggesting such as ” Women still bear a disproportionate responsibility in parenting young children.” and ” These women are pursuing their degrees at a time when they are most likely to become mothers. That is simply a fact.”. I was not sure if the author was using valid statistics or personal experiences. As a women perusing an academic career I have not yet experienced being a mother so I have not personally experienced having to balance a baby and academic papers, however, the idea of special treatment in the workplace makes me uncomfortable.
The two articles were very different in style and content but I enjoyed reading them both in general. I related more to Knoerl’s work and liked his style a lot more.
Today me and Joe went back to the North Texas Museum to research more into the archives. We had a game plan. Joe would find images of Call field so we could add images to our timeline and conference presentation and I would find newspapers and other information about the Spanish Flu. The archives had a plethora of photos of Call Field. In the collection of photos of Call Field there are several air shots. The photos showed the landing strip and the surrounding areas but we did not find any of modern day photos. I really wanted a compare and contrast photos so I called my dad. My father is a United State Air Force pilot of 30+ years and is friend with a lot of independent pilots. He managed to get in contact with some of his friends who are willing to fly Joe and I up to take some pictures of Call Field! Sometimes being a historian has its perks!
The archives also had some amazing newspaper references that include the Spanish Flu. The public library is willing to let me pick up copies of the full article. I have plans to go down to the public library and find those articles along with the heritage of some of Wichita Falls famous families.
After class on Friday, Joe and I made some necessary decisions in regards to our future website. The first thing we both agreed upon was that our website needed to have a navigation bar on every page of our site. This will avoid the hassle of constantly pushing the back button. We also decided that our main page will have several topics across the navigation bar that include: Call Field, Spanish Flu, Map, Time Line, Famous Families (of Wichita Falls), Oil Boom, and Bloopers. Because Joe and I are writing an academic paper for several conferences and we discussed possibly placing a link to the paper along with a list of names of the cities we went to.
We also decided to go back to the archives before class on Wednesday and get information and resources to start putting our paper together. Because the community has met us with such enthusiasm, almost all the resources we could ever think of is available to us. Joe recently received access to all the newspapers and articles during that era along with access to certain special collection resources. I am being to see this project take form and I am so excited to start putting all the pieces together.
Joseph and I headed out the other day to do some field work. Previously discussed was three locations we were going to hit to film some videos, take some pictures, and start gathering some materials for our website and timeline.
The first place we recorded was at Lake Wichita. This was the location of Wichita Falls night life during World War One along with the first recorded case of the Spanish Flu. We had to climb this giant dirt hill in order to get a clear view of the lake. The dirt hill felt like a mile high hike! But we eventually made it up to the top. The Wichita Falls Lake is pretty dry, here in the Falls we have been in a five year drought. However, this is historically accurate because during the Great War Wichita Falls was experiencing historic droughts as well. The lake is almost the exact same water level today as in back during the 1910s. After recording the videos Joe took some picture which are visible on his blog. We then almost died descending the hill but got our leg workouts in for the year.
The second location was at the last remaining building from the air base Call Field. The building was in the back of a day care. Joe and I were given permission to video out by the building. In order to get outside however, we had to walk by a bunch of sleeping toddlers. The building was used as a stable while in use at Call Field. Every other building around the stable has been torn down and the materials were used to create other things. Call Field is currently the location of several neighborhoods and stores.
The last place we recorded was at the location where the entrance of Call Field would have been. Currently the location is the site of many businesses include a local sushi restaurant know as Wasabi. After recording our videos Joe and I decided to go an grab some sushi for lunch. This was my first experience at fieldwork and it did not disappoint!
This week was a challenge for me. With my semester starting I’ve been adjusting to a new schedule and time. I ended up dropping a class and adding another which is a lot more stressful then I thought it would be. Nonetheless, I looked forward to completing the newest assignment which was to make a Google Maps. At first, I had a mini panic attack because I had no idea how to make a Google Maps and the knowledge of the site was limited to searching for the nearest Chipotle in Arlington. In order to better understand the site I googled how to make a google maps (thank the Lord Almighty for Google!) and found very helpful step by step instructions. The process was fun and as I plugged in important locations in Wichita Falls and added layers and layers of information I began feeling like someone from the Geek Squad at Best Buy. I really liked the bird’s eye visual of all the important locations at the time. Joe and I have been researching and visiting all the sites but never really thought about the locations in relation to one another. I placed in our Google Maps old locations that do not exist anymore as well as newer ones such as where we live and MWSU. I really enjoyed this assignment and think my map will have a place on our website as soon as I update the site and add some other features.
This week I looked into some other digital archives in order to hopefully get some ideas for my website. While looking into the websites and exploring certain features I certainly learned a lot about the importance of simplicity and visual appeal.
The first site I looked into was Valley of the Shadow. The original page was pretty simple and told the reader what to expect from the site. After I clicked on the link to navigate me to the archives the site became separated into three sections, before, during and after the war. Originally I liked the site but as I dove in deeper and explored I became frustrated that there was not a navigation option in order for me to return to the main page. I had to constantly be clicking the back arrow. I did like the pictures of the people and the individual letters that the site offered. I really enjoy the human aspect of history and to read how and what people thought about during this time was very fascinating.
The second site was my favorite out of all the sites. The Gilded Age Murder was amazing. I loved the visual appearance right away. The soft gold in the back ground followed by the darker gold was a good contrast and gave the eyes something interesting to look like. There were several links and interactive maps and options. Another aspect of the website I liked was the navigation bar that followed you where you went on the site so you could easily return home. This site reminded me a lot of what our reading mentioned about being an architect. The designers of the site considered the purpose and audience of this site and did not focus on one aspect in particular. A wide variety of details were considered and the results were an interesting and fun website to visit.
The third website I visited was French Revolution. I did not like this site at all. The harsh red colors overwhelmed my eyes. The website was not updated to fit the modern day computer systems and the links were placed in unflattering areas such as in the middle of people’s head. I looked at the cover page and immediately left.
I learned a lot from searching these archives and I took note of everything I liked and did not like. The one thing that became very apparent however was how much work I want to put into this website. To create a site that is both simply and visual will take a lot of behind the scene work, but I never back down from a challenge!
This past week started my Century America class and my first archival work. My partner, Joe, and I experience first class jitters as we log onto the online meeting. Soon after starting the class my apartment had a power outage cutting us off from wifi and the class. Luckily we were able to get reconnected within a few minutes. The experience of being in a class via video chat was strange because I hardly ever communicate through the computer. However, I quickly adapted and enjoyed the first week of class.
This past week, Joe and I also conducted some archival research at The Museum of North Texas and went to a WW1 flight museum at Wichita Falls Municipal Airport. At the MNTH we were met with enthusiasm and excitement about our project. Because our research is practically at ground zero, we were suggested to look into the Wichita Falls directory from 1916-1919 in order to find some leads. There we discovered the initial jobs of some of Wichita Falls leading families ( and big donors to the local University) such as the Bolin family and the Bridwell family. The directory lead us to some other possible sources of information such as the World War One Flight Museum and the General Hospital Records . Deciding to start with the Flight Museum the following Friday we set out for the Municipal Airport. There we met a local artist name Kim Wood who is painting a mural of Call Field (a World War One flight base that was located in WF) and her partner Mark Zimmermen. Together they want to paint a historically accurate mural of the base and as a result were very helpful in leading Joe and I in the right direction. Not only did they inform of us useful archival locations but also told us where not to go. Mr. Zimmerman show us his collection of photos he has acquired of Wichita Falls and Call Field, layouts of the base, and even a stable that still remains from Call Field. This past week was a great start and I can not wait to see where our research will lead us. Below of some images of the mural Mrs. Kim was painting based on the photos they have found of Call Field.