Unfortunately I had an extremely busy weekend and was not able to get a head start on getting all the text up on to my website so the bulk of that work will have to be done this week. Luckily, since I have most of my material ready it will just be a matter of plugging things in and making sure they are formatted correctly on the site. My goal is to have the timeline and most of the text and remaining images up and properly formatted on the website by April 10th and have it completed by the 14th. The voices of the great war recordings will be harder to plan for. I have found a couple people interested in helping me record but they haven’t been very good about getting back to me about scheduling etc. so I might just end up recording everything myself. If I can’t pin them down by Thursday I will probably end up going solo. I’d like to have these recordings up on the website no later than the 18th but hopefully well before that. In the mean time it will just be about polishing everything, making sure it all looks right, and possibly seeing if I can find any hidden gems in the archives between now and final due date.
In the past 48 hours I have been from Philadelphia to Boston, from Boston to New Hampshire, and from New Hampshire to North Adams. Now that I’ve had a few minutes to catch my breath I can recap what I found in Philly.
My overall experience at the PMA archives was absolutely fantastic. The archivist was so kind, helpful and very interested and enthusiastic about this project. As for what I was able to find on Marry Curran, it was not as much as I hoped to find. While there was info on her time in North Adams, the bulk of the material had to do with her activities in Pennsylvania. However, I did find a number of interesting items to include on the website. Curran was heavily involved with the National League of Girls’ Clubs (previously the National League of Women Workers) and founded and was the first president of the North Adams Girls’ Club. I found an article on the history of the Girl’s Club in North Adams and a letter from Curran to the League that gives great insight into her goals and motivations.
Now that I’m back in North Adams I can use what I found in Philadelphia to attempt to fill in some of the blanks.
I was in the library on completely unrelated business this past weekend when I spotted a display case of old images featuring the school and town in relation to the Mohawk Trail. It turns out that the opening of the Mohawk Trail in 1914 as a scenic tourist route and the Mohawk Trail Pageant in North Adams was arguably a much bigger deal for the people than the first World War would turn out to be. I knew about this event but it kind of slipped to the back of my mind because at the time I didn’t feel it was relevant and I didn’t realize how important it was for the town. After pursuing further research on the subject I’m excited to devote a significant portion of my website to this event.
The image that caught my eye in the library is a group photo from the pageant featuring faculty and students form the North Adams Normal School
I forgot to mention Mary Curran! I found her name in the city report under leave of absence for military service and googled her name on a whim. It turns out she was a very active figure in the North Adams community as well as the other places in which she lived. She grew up in North Adams and taught at one of the schools here. There is a collection of her papers open for research at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Unfortunately they are not digitized but I am more than willing to make the trip as she seems like an important figure to discuss. I still have not been able to find out the nature of her leave of absence for military service.
As far as the basic outline of my website goes I will definitely be taking a narrative approach. I have a decent amount of materials to work with but it’s still rather on the slim side so I think that would be the most appropriate route to take. Going off of what I have right now, it would make the most sense for me to focus on a few key figures (WWI veterans, students at the Normal School, Teachers, etc.) but have those figures supported by a larger narrative of the city and the school.
I like to think of it as an upside-down pyramid where the information gets more specific as it comes to a point.
I would really like to use the Timeline tool for my site, though I’m not quite sure yet how I would manage it or what information I could use to fill it out. But I think it’s a fantastic, simple tool that would add a lot to my site without being over-complicated or difficult to maneuver. Depending on how much more information I can find on the Influenza epidemic in North Adams I might use it for that. I can’t really think of any other tools I’d like to use at the moment. I’d really like to keep my site as clean and simple as possible, aesthetically and technically.
I think it would be fantastic if all our websites were linked in someway. I think its very important to show that even though we are all doing different schools, this project was is very much a group effort and learning experience. The simplest way to do this would be to have each of our sites link to a page that gives a brief overview of the project and contains links for all the schools.
Sources so far:
MCLA Archives-Local Newspaper, Student scrapbooks, yearbooks, course catalogs, sheet music, and misc. items.
North Adams Public Library-Annual city reports, Hoosac Tunnel Collection, No. Adams Monday Club Collection, Ruth B. Browne Collection, Berkshire Genealogy Index.
This past week I was able to meet with the MCLA reference librarian who has already helped me a great deal in figuring out what kinds of materials are available to me for this project. Unfortunately, there have been a few drawkbacks already. The MCLA archivist left last year, so it has been left up to the reference librarian to keep track of all the archival materials. Luckily, she has been extremely kind and helpful. I also learned that attempts to archive non-administrative documents and artifacts here at MCLA did not begin until about 20 years ago. This means that there is not a great deal available to me, especially in the era I’m focusing on. However, I have already looked through some wonderful photo albums, yearbooks, and course catalogs from the era and have found a number of other documents that will certainly be useful to me. She also directed me to the local newspaper and the city directory, which the library has on microfilm, as well as the City’s annual reports.
I have also started looking at the North Adams Public Library, which recently lost its archivist as well. They have a number of collections, though few that deal with the correct time period. Still, there are two specific collections I’m interested in browsing: The Monday Club Collection and the Ruth B. Browne collection. Both contain some interesting facets of North Adams life in the Early 20th century such as photographs, newspaper clippings, newsletters, clubs and town activities.
Due to time conflict I was not able to visit the North Adams Historical Society and Museum but I plan on contacting them this week. I’m interested to see what they have to share! I have also been directed to the Pittsfield Public Library and Williams College Library, which may hold larger collections that pertain to this project.
I am so looking forward to truly begin working on this project! As I have just arrived on campus I have started contacting the people who will help me access the various archives and libraries so that I can take a preliminary note of what is available to me on campus. I will be looking into these archives later this week. I have just been informed that the night reference librarian has been working on a collection of primary sources from the school’s past! I cannot wait to see what he has put together.