Hello, world. I am the ‘colleague.’ Ashley did a great job explaining what we have done towards the project so far. I will echo her thoughts on Gene, our school’s archivist. He and Colin in the UNCA Special Collections couldn’t be more accommodating and eager to provide support with our research. I can see a network starting to take shape: one that will allow Ashley and me to gain access to information from local and regional archives to less obvious sources from business records to family scrapbooks.
Ashley is correct in describing the Asheville community as an “historian’s mecca.” The people of our community are proud and the community is proud of its people. This is perhaps one reason some private archives tend to be difficult to access, as in the case of the Biltmore Estate. They (understandably) want to preserve the honor associated with their histories. But Ashley and I believe once our mission is presented, it will become clear that we are simply recognizing the memory of such an important force in our town’s development. That is not to say we will be biased in our research or allow our love of the community to conflict with our responsibility as historians to act objectively. We won’t. Transparency is paramount in accurately representing the Asheville community during the first World War. As much as I would like to celebrate the town of Asheville, it is our duty as budding scholars to instead uncover what we can, letting the chips fall as they may.
My partner and I have an initial plan for our research. The early part of the 20th century was a time of enormous growth and development in our town. Ashley will focus on the ‘folks’ of Asheville and its surrounding communities: from farmers who supported the increasing demand for food to the workers who made such construction possible. I will focus more on the uniqueness of Asheville as a resort destination. From health centers taking advantage of the mountain air to vacation retreats catering to the affluent, our town saw an influx of personalities taking advantage of the resources that continue to make Asheville special to this day.
Take a journey with us, and although we cannot promise a smooth ride, we can guarantee a unique experience as we look homeward to the Asheville community in the years during the Great War.