Category Archives: resources

State Normal School and WWI: Outline

After a long 2 hours of brainstorming, Julia, Jack, Candice, and I finally came up with a rough outline of our site that we are pleased with! It was much more difficult than I had anticipated, but I think that was a good thing, because it gave us a lot of time to consider potential problems with our future site. One of the most difficult aspects of the planning was to decide how we wanted to split up the content of the site–originally we thought of splitting it into War, School, and Flu. However, “War” is much too broad and really crosses over into the School category. We went through several other permutations of categories before settling on spatial separations: Fredericksburg and SNS. What we struggled with the most in creating the categories was what to do with the Influenza Epidemic. We wanted to make it a third category, but it doesn’t fit the spatial theme, and in fact crosses the spatial boundaries since the epidemic hit SNS and Fredericksburg. But, for readers interested solely in the flu epidemic, we worried that they wouldn’t want to look on two separate pages for information regarding one topic. However, we ultimately decided that because the experience of the epidemic was different enough in both places, it would be logically acceptable to have it on separate pages.

The following is the rough outline of our website: 

Landing Page/Home Page: Brief introduction to project/site; “About” link for more information; Search bar, etc.

∙    General timeline for WWI and Fredericksburg/SNS

∙    2 large image links: one to Fredericksburg main page and one to SNS main page

Fredericksburg Main Page: Brief overview of WWI homefront experience in the city; Image links to focused categories/resources

∙    Eastburn War Diaries Page: Detail parts of the homefront experience as evidenced by the diaries, in a larger narrative about the city; accounts for international events as well as local issues like prices and material shortages

  • § Bring in other Fredericksburg sources like singular photos and military records to flesh out media and experience, MW Hospital records
  • § Possible timeline

∙    Knox Family Page: Tell part of the homefront narrative through the Knox family’s experience; one son went to Europe and died over there; husband died in flu epidemic

  • § General timeline
  • § Narrative with images from collection
  • § Link to Fredericksburg influenza page

∙    Rowe Family Page: Tell part of the homefront narrative through the experience of Josiah P. Rowe, Jr. (an aviator); mentions meeting “Fredericksburgers” in Europe during war and receiving a care package; can’t wait to come home at the end of the war

  • § General timeline
  • § Narrative with images from collection

∙    Influenza Page: Describe how the 1918 influenza epidemic affected the city of Fredericksburg, not including SNS

  • § Sources: Fredericksburg Daily Star newspaper articles
  • § Link to SNS influenza page

State Normal School Main Page: Brief overview of WWI homefront experience at the State Normal School; Image links to focused categories/resources

∙    Administration Page: Describe administrative issues and changes made during the war; worker shortages, requests for salary increases

  • § Sources: President Russell Papers, other administrative collections

∙    Academics Page: Describe changes and adaptations made to curriculum during the war; ex. Food Conservation class

  • § Sources: Academic catalogs and bulletins

∙    Student Life Page: Discuss student life during the war and how it was/was not affected; especially focus on Clubs

  • § Sources: Battlefield Yearbooks, Academic catalogs and bulletins
  • § Photo galleries with photos from Battlefield Yearbooks and student scrapbooks

∙    Influenza Page: Describe the impact of the 1918 flu epidemic on the school; ex. Number of students ill, closing of school, death of Virginia Goolrick

  • § Sources: President Russell Papers, Accounting records

Storming the Archives

After agonizing weeks of waiting, we finally made it to the Central Rappahannock Heritage Center! All four of us made it, and we found some excellent resources–as we had hoped we would. We looked through many items, some of them useful, and some of them not. We started with Battlefield yearbooks, because they were the easiest items for the volunteers to pull. The CRHC has a very strict policy about copies and photos, but luckily the Battlefield yearbooks are digitized and available on the Internet Archive. The yearbooks had cool tidbits of information here and there that we can hopefully incorporate into the project about the homefront experience, and the ones before US entry into the war give us a good picture of how SNS was relatively unaffected by the war until 1917. I got to look through the 1915 Battlefield yearbook, and the Alumnae Pages had an interesting (and amusing) quote from an SNS graduate, Kathleen White: “She is much excited over the European War, and being a patriotic Canadian, she expresses a desire to enlist if worst comes to worst.”

Image copyright Central Rappahannock Heritage Center.

Image copyright Central Rappahannock Heritage Center.

Candice got to look at some postcards, and one of them is amazing! It depicts soldiers lying on the ground, holding their weapons and says “On The Firing Line.”  It is from a man named Emmett to his Grandma. He writes: “Dear Grandma. Am at Fort Oglethorpe, Ga. Saw Dr. Pratt today. I don’t know where I’ll go from here. Love to all. Emmett.”

Image copyright Central Rappahannock Heritage Center.

Image copyright Central Rappahannock Heritage Center.

Image copyright Central Rappahannock Heritage Center.

Image copyright Central Rappahannock Heritage Center.

Candice also went through a collection of items from the Knox family and put together an awesome Google doc for us with lots of information about them! It contained personal letters, newspaper articles, a family history, photographs, recipes, and more. Another item that we were looking forward to getting our hands on was the homefront diary of Mary Eastburn–Jack got to look at these diaries and they are absolutely amazing! They are an excellent source of information about the homefront, like prices for goods and material shortages. We definitely want to construct a homefront timeline, and these diaries will most likely form the crux of it. Jack has already set to work entering the information into the Timeline tool that we learned about earlier this week. I’m so excited to see how everything turns out in the end! We would like to get digital images of the diary, but unfortunately that will have to wait for a little while, due to the CRHC’s policies and the expense of actually getting the digital images ($2.00 per image). Candice and I looked through several letters from the Stearns sisters, but they didn’t seem to be relevant to WWI. They made no mention of the war, but it is possible that other letters in the collection do–the collection is quite large and has not been cataloged yet. However, unless we end up with ample amounts of time to go through this collection, it doesn’t seem like the letters will be useful to us.

The last item I looked at before I left the CRHC was a book of minutes from the Mary Washington Hospital Association. It ran from 1913 to 1919, so I actually started at the back of the book first, thinking that I would come across mentions of the war sooner from that direction. The January 21, 1919 entry mentioned Liberty Bonds that the association purchased, and several entries from 1918 mention the “question of coal,” which may have been related to war shortages. Interestingly enough, the books of minutes skips almost an entire year–it goes from October 6, 1918 to October 15, 1919. This jump in time startled me, especially because the fall of 1918 was when the influenza epidemic hit Fredericksburg in full force, so I was expecting to find some entries making mention of the virus. It is a very conspicuous absence of information, and Jack and I are wondering if the association kept a separate book of minutes during the time period that is missing. We shall see! We didn’t finish looking through the book, so when we return to the CRHC I would like to skim over the rest of it.

I’m very pleased with our progress and really looking forward to seeing what more we can find!

Interesting Finds in the Archives:
“The time has come” the Walrus said, “to talk of many things.” (1915 Battlefield Yearbook)
A woman at the Mary Washington Hospital caused a large controversy when she gave birth to a child and then put it into the hospital’s furnace, unbeknownst to hospital staff.

Special Collections and the Masonic Lodge

photo 2 It has been another exciting week for us at UMW! Our group found more items in the Special Collections here at UMW that will be really valuable for our project.  Jack, Julia, and I went back to Special Collections yesterday and spent 2.5 hours looking through President Russell’s papers.  I was hoping to find speeches given by President Russell that are mentioned in the October 1917 Normal School bulletin, but the papers held by UMW seem to deal more with administrative matters like reports to school boards and hiring teachers.  However, we did find other very valuable resources.  It seems that many teachers and employees who sought reappointment in 1918 asked for salaries, and several of them cited the much higher cost of goods and their inability to afford such on their current salaries.  Presumably, these high prices were a direct effect of the war in Europe, and these requests are great examples of not only how World War I affected the economy in general, but also how it affected daily life for people at the State Normal School in Fredericksburg.  We have all also been extremely eager to find documents that address the effect that the influenza epidemic had upon the school’s population.  Julia found a 1918 list of students who had missed a significant number of days, and many of them were listed as having had an “illness.”  Later I found what at the time appeared to be a gold mine of information on the influenza at the State Normal School…until I realized that it was a report for the State Normal School in Harrisonburg (there were four State Normal Schools at this time: Fredericksburg, Harrisonburg, Farmville, and Radford).  (It was very interesting to see, though, that the SNS in Harrisonburg was so afflicted with influenza that it turned one of its residence halls, Jackson Hall, into a temporary hospital because the infirmary was so overcrowded–it could only fit 12 patients.  The school suspended classes for at least two weeks!)  After some more digging and locating a seemingly lost folder of President Russell’s papers, we finally found the Fredericksburg school’s report that mentioned influenza!  Huzzah!  It seems that, comparatively, the SNS in Fredericksburg was not as severely affected by the epidemic as Harrisonburg was–we only closed for 8 days.  Still, a significant portion of the student body and faculty/staff came down with virus.  Unfortunately, Death came to Fredericksburg: Virginia Goolrick, the Head of the History Department, succumbed to the disease and died within a few days of contracting it.  While I was reading the influenza report, Jack was looking at financial records, and found that he could corroborate the dates of the epidemic, and from a monetary standpoint we could see how heavily the virus affected the school.  During the months of the epidemic (fall 1918), the spending of the infirmary shot through the roof, approaching $500!  We had a very productive day in the Special Collections, and marked down what we wanted to go back and digitize for the project.  At this point, I’m not quite sure how we will incorporate everything into the site, but I think at the very least a timeline would be a good feature for the site.  I would definitely like to work in document images as well.

This evening (Thursday, January 29) we continued our archival work, this time venturing to the Masonic Lodge in Historic Downtown Fredericksburg.  We were very excited to visit the Lodge because the Freemasons have a rich and complex history, and we hoped that they would have some good materials for us to look at.  The Masons were delighted that we sought them out for help and are eager to help us with our research–they want a copy of the site/research once everything is completed!  The historian at the Lodge is fairly new (he took on the position in December), and the archivist was not at the Lodge to assist us.  However, as we talked with the historian and the Grand Master, we got some great preliminary information about the Freemasons and their involvement in society, prominent Masons of Fredericksburg at the time.  The Grand Master graciously gave us a copy of their history, written by a Brother, which has a page discussing the Masons’ activities during WWI.  They didn’t have many archival resources for us to look at tonight, but it was more of a preliminary meeting, so that we could meet with them and explain our project in-depth, to give them a better idea of what kind of resources we are searching for.  The Lodge is in the midst of cataloging and digitizing its archives, which will be beneficial to our project.  Once the secretary and archivist are apprised of our project, I am sure they will have some interesting resources for us to look at, like photographs and meeting minutes.  I’m very excited to see what they can find for us!

photo 1

Archival Survey–Great Finds!

My colleagues and I at UMW have compiled a (lengthy) list of archival resources that will be valuable for this project.  Jack and I went to UMW’s Special Collections this past week and found some great items!  One is a student scrapbook, which contains pictures that show us what the State Normal School was like during WWI.  In addition, several of these pictures show female students posing with males dressed in uniform.  Our initial thought for this scrapbook is to create a digital image gallery or scrapbook.

Another excellent resource at our Special Collections is the collection of academic catalogs and bulletins.  (As luck would have it, almost all of the catalogs and bulletins from the WWI era have been digitized and are searchable!)  These bulletins are excellent windows into what the State Normal School experienced during WWI.  For example, from these bulletins we know that SNS offered a special class during the war on food conservation, and we also know that two faculty members served in the military during the war.  (I am particularly excited about these bulletins–I think it’s so amazing to be able to see in such detail what the school was doing during WWI and how it adapted to new and different demands!)  We can also look through the President’s Papers of SNS and the school’s yearbooks, both of which should give us a further view of the school’s homefront experience.

The Central Rappahannock Heritage Center is another place that holds promising resources.  Using its online catalog, Candice located oral histories from the WWI era, two diaries that recount the homefront experience in Fredericksburg, and photographs and documents of Fredericksburg’s Washington Guard.  We are heading to CRHC this week to get a personal look at these resources–I’m excited to see what they have for us!

The Central Rappahannock Regional Library contains promising collections of postcards and oral histories.  The Virginiana Room contains special collections, several items of which pertain to the WWI era.  We are hoping to visit the Virginiana Room within the next week or so, in order to get a clearer picture of what resources it has to offer.

Although not necessarily local to Fredericksburg, the Virginia Historical Society is local to my home location and hold the Goolrick Family Papers, spanning from 1896-1927.  The Goolrick family was a very prominent family in Fredericksburg, so this collection may contain some valuable documents relative to our interests. I am hoping to visit the VHS soon to see some sections of the Goolrick Papers.  Other potential resources in Fredericksburg and Virginia exist, and we are in contact with people at these places, but for this post I have just highlighted what seem to be our most promising resources thus far.

First Progress Report…Only Just the Beginning!

I am very excited to be a part of this digital history experiment, and so far it is going very well for my colleagues and I! Julia, Candice, Jack, and I have found some great resources to start looking at.

Jack and I went to UMW’s University Archives on Tuesday to take a look at the collections that the archivist thought would be good places to start. Our University Archives have several items pertaining to WWI, but only a couple of them will be good sources for the homefront experience. One is a student’s scrapbook, and it contains pictures of female students with males dresses in military attire. Another resource that I think will be very helpful in elucidating the homefront experience is the academic catalogs and bulletins of the school (at that time it was called the State Normal School). The first one that we found that made a mention of the war was the October 1917 Bulletin. It is entitled “Patriotism Through Local History Conservation in War Time Reorganization of English School Activities”–we struck gold!

Luckily, many of the school’s academic catalogs and bulletins have been digitized and are available on the Internet Archive, and we can search these digitized sources for key terms like “war” and “crisis,” in order to assist our research. We are going to look through these sources more, as they seem to hold promising information about the homefront experience of the State Normal School during WWI.

We also have a list of other local resources and organizations that we are contacting in order to find more research materials. This upcoming Thursday we are taking a trip to the Central Rappahannock Heritage Center to look at the WWI resources they hold. I can’t wait to see what is in store for us–this is only just the beginning!